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PHSC Empowered! Conference

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The whole idea behind the Empowered! Women in Education Conference, a presentation by Pasco-Hernando State College, is to celebrate women from all walks of life. This conference recognizes women who have something brilliant and empowering to bring to the table.

“Explore leadership, confidence, empowerment, and engage in networking opportunities as we discuss women in education!” read an event description. “In addition, we will be celebrating Women’s History Month at this empowering event.”

The Empowered! conference, happening Friday, Mar. 15, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at PHSC Instructional Performing Arts Center, 8657 Old Pasco Rd., Wesley Chapel, is an annual event delivered in an expanded and renewed form this year.

“We’re so excited to be hosting a live, face-to-face event this year for the first time since COVID,” said Jessica White, Associate Dean of Student Life and Leadership at PHSC. “And while our focus remains on women in education, we are expanding our focus this year.”

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“This event is about empowering all women, no matter what business they’re in. We’re contacting the chamber of commerce and local government,” said White. “They bring all different kinds of experiences. Our speakers this year were amazed by their diversity.”

Magical things happen when these powerful women gather in one place to share their ideas and experiences. “This is an event where we make connections, build bridges,” said White.

Marilyn Pearson-Adams Century 21 Alliance Realty BROKER/Owner
Marilyn Pearson-Adams
Century 21
Alliance Realty
Photo provided.

Among the event’s featured speakers will be Marilyn Pearson-Adams, a prominent Hernando-based businesswoman and PHSC board member. “In business and education, many women often need extra support,” she said. “Empowered! is about building confidence, personal branding, assertiveness and defining one’s purpose—the mix of factors that can determine future satisfaction and success in the lives of women.”

Camesha Whittaker, Ph.D.

This year’s Empowered keynote speaker is Camesha Whittaker, Ph.D., the Senior Vice President of Innovation and Design at the Propel Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Under her leadership, the Propel Center launched its inaugural tech product, Propel Learn, with over 1,000 users in 2023. This mobile-first virtual learning platform is now accessible to over 300,000 historically black college and university (HBCU) students. In addition, Dr. Whittaker leads Propel’s virtual campus, overseeing product development, instructional design, curriculum development, research and development, faculty and consortia development. She earned a B.A. in Mass Communication from Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, FL), an M.A. in Public Communication from American University (Washington, DC), and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies: Organizational Communication from Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA).
“She is amazing,” said White. “She brings so much positivity and importance to our event, and aside from delivering the keynote address, she’ll be conducting one of our breakout sessions.”

PHSC student leader Emmalise Feliciano will also lead a breakout session. Taking dual enrollment classes at Zephyrhills High School empowered her to continue her education at Pasco-Hernando State College. As a full-time student, it has been her pleasure to attend. At PHSC, she has held prestigious leadership positions, including serving as the college-wide Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President and Vice President of Future Business Leaders of America. She has built meaningful relationships, grown alongside fellow leaders, learned the importance of completing scholarships to compete, and has actively served in her community. After graduating with her Associate of Arts degree this spring, she intends to further her education as an undergraduate to complete her Bachelor’s in Business Management.
“She is an empowering student leader,” said White, “inspiring in how she gets students involved.”

Dr. June Hall

June Hall, known as Dr. June, has been an educator and facilitator for over 20 years and is a nationally syndicated advice columnist. She founded Time to APT (Accentuate Positive Thinking), facilitating programs to help others personally and professionally. As a speaker, she has been the keynote speaker for the 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. She will be leading a breakout session at the conference. “Her message is so positive and empowering,” said White.

Rebecca “Becky”

Rebecca “Becky” Schulkowski, BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel’s first president, will also lead a breakout session at the conference. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her to the Pasco-Hernando State College District Board of Trustees in March of 2021. Previously, she served as director of operations and director of surgical services at BayCare Health Systems, director of surgical services at Riverside Health System in New Port News, Maryland, and director of pharmacy at Cardinal Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Schulkowski earned a Master of Business Administration from Wilmington University, Delaware, a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. White stated, “She is a true leader, in both education and leadership.”

Hernando County will be represented in fine form, as Marilyn Pearson-Adams of Brooksville will participate in a panel discussion at Empower and help deliver greetings and introductions for the day. She was elected to serve as chair, the PHSC District Board of Trustees (DBOT) for the 2020-2021 academic year. Pearson-Adams is the president of Century 21 Alliance Realty, a director with the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, and previously served as a Pasco Hernando Workforce Board member. She has served on several professional committees and organizations, and holds relevant real estate industry certifications. Pearson-Adams has served on the PHSC DBOT since 2014.
“Marilyn is an excellent board member,” said White. “She is also a great businesswoman and an inspiration for our community.”

The conference also will feature a performing arts presentation, a Women by Women Special Performance featuring Francesca Arnone, Flute; Amy Collins, Oboe and Andrea Feitl, Piano. “We are so pleased to make music a part of our celebration,” said White.

The agenda for Empowered! is:
Arrival and Networking–9:30–10 a.m.
Welcome and Greetings–10–10:10 a.m.
Women By Women Special Performance by The Amici Trio–10:10–10:45 a.m.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Camesha Whittaker: Audacious Innovation: A Future-Focused Invitation for the Empowered Woman–10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Stretch Break–11:15–11:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion, Empowered Women in the Modern World–11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Lunch–12:30-–1:15 p.m.
Breakout Sessions–1–2 p.m.
Camesha Whittaker–Ph.D., Audacious Innovation for YOUR future
June Hall, Ed.D. Confidence—Ally Speaking
Nicole Newlon, Esq: Workshop: Balancing a Successful Career and Personal Life
Becky Schulkowski, Pharm.D., MBA, The Challenges and Rewards of Leadership
Closing Session and Departure–2–3 p.m.

Trustee Nicole Newlon

For more information and to register, visit https://phsc.edu/about/events/campus/empowered-women-education-conference.

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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