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Empowered Women in Education Conference: The Spirit of Resilience

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“Healing • Growing • Achieving: The Spirit of Resilience” is the theme of this year’s Empowered! Women in Education Conference, a free annual Pasco-Hernando State College event. And on hand to celebrate this spirited event, part of the campuswide It Takes Us initiative and presented with the support of PHSC President Dr. Timothy Beard, will be a full roster of luminaries known on the local and national stage, including nationally syndicated advice columnist Dr. June Hall (aka Dr. June).

This is the third women’s Empowered conference. Associate Dean of Retention and Student Life at Pasco-Hernando State College Jessica White, MS, said, “We want to praise and recognize the work of women all around us. Empowered is a recognition of women’s achievements at all levels, professional and personal, and of the camaraderie and unity we need to succeed.”

It was in fact a prominent former PHSC Administrator, former Senior Vice President of Technology and Distance Education and Chief Information Officer at Pasco-Hernando State College Melissa Harts that conceptualized and originated the Empowered conference. Now it’s coordinated by Dr. Davina Jones, a 24-year veteran professor of interpersonal and rhetorical communication studies who currently teaches public speaking at the PHSC Porter Campus in Wesley Chapel. Jones’ administrative service includes roles as the former director of the master of arts in media & communications at Adler University in Chicago, Illinois, and assistant campus director for Rasmussen College in Ocala. Jones has presented at several professional conferences. Her community outreach includes a history of programs on mental health, parenting, relationship choices, and most recently the GREAT Camp, which is designed to expose teens and pre-teens to the power of intention.
Jones stated, “This conference and its speakers tell a story not often told. It is befitting to continue, as through the generations we always strive to get better and better; As a family, a community and a nation.”

This year’s Empowered conference will feature PHSC’s own Senior Vice President, Institutional Technology, Marcia Austin, Ed.D., Associate Vice President, Alumni and College Relations/Foundation Lisa Richardson, Ed.D., and Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, Marketing and Communications Sonia Thorn in its Wednesday, March 23 session. “These are our three leading ladies. They’ll talk about creating opportunities for the community, and share their own stories of healing, including the mentors and books that inspired them,” stated Jones.

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Speaking at the March 30 session will be Camesha Whittaker, Ph.D., who is an award-winning academician, faculty developer, and business communication consultant who currently serves as director of the BJ Moore Center for Faculty Innovation and Associate Professor of Communication at Bethune-Cookman University. Dr. Camesha’s biography states she is a veteran educator and leadership development coach. She is passionate about advancing the principles of civility and global citizenship as espoused by Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt. She earned the B.A. in Mass Communication from Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, FL), the M.A. in Public Communication from American University (Washington, DC), and the Ph.D. in Communication Studies: Organizational Communication from Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA).

Also appearing March 30 will be Dr. June Hall, affectionately known as Dr. June, who has been an educator and facilitator for more than 20 years and is a nationally syndicated advice columnist. Dr. June’s biography states that she founded Time to APT (Accentuate Positive Thinking), which facilitates programs to help others personally and professionally. As a speaker she has been the keynote for Mental Health Association of Broward, CARE Foundation, Girl Scouts of America, colleges, churches and more. As a media personality, Dr. June has been an expert panelist on syndicated and local TV talk shows such as Bloom, Black News Channel, and Daytime. She has received the EPIC (Exceptional People Impacting the Community) Award and started the APTacious Network for the personal/professional development of women and small business owners.

Dr. Hall says that she plans to speak on the issue of “Filling your glass with something good, whether it’s half full or half empty.” She states, “I want to help women, especially younger women who are adolescents or going into college, to be stronger and use their voice. To go forward.”

Jessica White believes that the issues addressed at the Empowered conference are beneficial to all audiences.”They’re just conveyed through a women’s lens,” White states. And the ultimate message of Empowered is to be better to each other and to be better together. White states, “Together we can do anything.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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