By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer
Volunteer State Community College will be hosting the annual Women’s History Tea Wednesday, March 23, in the Mary Nichols Carpeted Dining Room.
The event will include food, a guest speaker from the Tennessee Board of Regents and an award recognition.
Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, has been coordinating this event every year since the Spring 2013 semester.
“I created the Women’s History Tea to bring awareness and recognition and to celebrate the accomplishments of women to the Volunteer State Community College Community and to society as a whole,” said Yarbrough.
Yarbrough said he wants women to feel empowered to accomplish whatever they choose and for all, male and female, to respect the strides that women have made.
“I hope our students will become more open and respectful that each gender brings something to the table and the accomplishments and contributions of women are equal to that of men,” said Yarbrough.
Yarbrough has invited Dr. Heidi Leming, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents, to be the guest speaker for the event.
“Because of her [Dr. Leming] position, she has insight on what is happening in our state with respect to Higher Education. I’m confident that she will be able to motivate and inspire the attendees at the Tea,” said Yarbrough.
With diverse events like these, Yarbrough said he hopes to move the campus toward a direction of inclusion and not merely tolerance.
“Our celebrations of various cultures and gender aren’t meant or intended to cause division but rather to celebrate our differences.
“Our differences make us appreciate the subtle nuances. That’s what I want the community to understand,” said Yarbrough.
Dr. Heidi Leming’s speech is titled “What Do You Believe?” and it will focus on how beliefs shape action and the role that women have played in education to advance those beliefs.
“I hope to challenge students to think about the importance of identifying your core beliefs, taking action, and honoring the legacy of those who have gone before us to make our personal journeys possible,” said Leming.
Leming said she has close working relationships with several Vol State staff including Dr. Kenny Yarbrough.
This will be Leming’s first Women’s History Month presentation.
“I love being able to connect with students and inspire them to take their college experiences to improve not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them,” said Leming.
Leming said she believes activism is one way to shape a more positive campus environment that transcends to a greater local community.
“If a student has never thought about why we have ‘history months,’ take a moment to reflect on how a better understand of the past can shape our future actions,” added Leming.
The Student Life and Diversity Initiatives are having the event set up with a Parisian theme this year.
Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, said she enjoys this event because it is a nice change of pace.
“We try to get new decorations to add to the event each year.
“We also always ask the French class if there are any volunteers that want to serve hot water at the tea and speak French phrases to the guests so they can join in on the fun,” said Sherrell.
With the past success the Women’s History Tea has had, Dr. Kenny Yarbrough said he is very elated about the event this year and is proud that the Vol State community recognizes the accomplishments of women.
“I’ve had so many people share that they enjoy our events because it raises awareness.
“There are some who wonder why we take time to celebrate different groups, but I feel that it’s our differences that strengthen our similarities,” added Yarbrough.
The Office of Student Life and Diversity and the Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee are accepting nominations for the Women’s History Month Tea.
Any woman who has made outstanding strides or contributions at Volunteer State Community College is eligible. This includes students, faculty and staff. Submissions must include the reasons why you are nominating your candidate for this recognition.
The Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee will be selecting the winners who will be awarded at the Women History Tea.
Submissions must be sent to Vicki Dretchen, Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee Chair, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 17.