By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer
Volunteer State Community College hosted the annual Women’s History Tea Wednesday, March 23, in the Mary Nichols Carpeted Dining Room.
The Women’s History Tea is an annual event that welcomes guest speakers to come to Vol State to speak on the importance of women’s roles in society and how to better include the diversity appreciation as a whole.
The event was coordinated and created by Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.
This year, the event was decorated as a Parisian-themed ambiance with Eiffel Tower figures with black, white and red table decor.
An assortment of teas decorated each table and volunteers from Virginia Rockwood’s French class waited to serve everyone.
The keynote speaker at the tea was Dr. Heidi Leming, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents.
Leming’s speech was titled “What Do You Believe?” and she engaged the audience to join with others in similar action to help revolutionize the push for equality.
“Beliefs are so important in shaping not only our individual actions, but how to foster a healthy democracy,” said Leming.
Leming spoke about the issues and milestones in women’s history, including the literacy gap between men and women in the 1700’s and later coeducation.
“Women have struggled with living up to the promise of their education and at the same time fulfilling a female role,” said Leming.
Leming urged the audience to pay attention to the critical role women play in the world of higher education.
“I can say that one area we need to do more work in is supporting women from minority populations to achieve their goals in getting a degree or higher education,” said Leming.
Leming closed her speech with a challenge for her audience to become activists like the women before to help pave the way for the opportunities women have in this day and age.
“Join with others in the continued pursuit of joy and happiness.
“We aspire to have these democratic ideals as Americans. To be an ordinary American, but with extraordinary dreams,” said Leming, in her closing statement.
Dianna Johnson, a non-traditional student at Vol State, said she enjoyed the message from Leming’s speech.
“I thought she said some very interesting and inspirational things.
“As women, the odds have usually been stacked against us and I think she [Leming] touched on subjects that we all feel pretty strongly about,” said Johnson.
Johnson is not only a student at Vol State, but she works for the city of Gallatin, Tennessee.
Johnson is a recipient of the Vol State Foundation Scholarship and will be speaking at the annual Educate a Woman Luncheon at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee on April 22.
Approximately 30 people attended the Women’s History Tea event and only a couple of them were men.
“That is something we have to think about in terms of how we can attract more men to this particular type of event,” said Yarbrough.
The lunch menu for the event included deli spirals, popcorn chicken, salad, vegetable platters, and Cheesecake cubes.
As attendees enjoyed the food, Rockwood’s volunteers served guests hot tea and spoke simple French phrases for guests to respond to with the help of the event pamphlet.
After lunch servings, Vicki Dretchen, Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee Chair, announced the award recipients for the event.
The recipients were Kay Dayton, Dr. Kimberly Caldwell and Dr. Carol Bussey.
Yarbrough awarded Leming for being a guest speaker at the Women’s History Tea, and Dretchen for her all of her efforts as a Committee Chair.