Women in Higher Education Eastern Region Drive-In Workshop

By Riley Gentry, Staff Writer—

The Women in Higher Education in Tennessee, or WHET, hosted their annual eastern region drive-in workshop Friday, Feb. 22, at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“Everything is about relationships…it’s important to have women who have other women who support them,” Bonny Clark, program liaison for engineering, music, nursing, MBA, and computational science at UTC’s graduate school, said.

The workshop was an all-day event that consisted of a welcome ceremony, activities, a keynote speaker, Q&A with UTC’s experimental learning program, and door prizes.

The welcome ceremony kicked off with a short greeting from Patricia Burks-Jelks, first vice president and American council on education chair for WHET, and Dr. Joanne Romagni, vice chancellor of research and dean of graduate school at UTC.

Their greeting was followed by the keynote speaker for the event, Dr. Lori Mann Bruce, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Tennessee Tech University.

Bruce spoke of the importance of having mentors, allies and advocates within the workplace and personal life. 

“If we set ourselves accountable and set positive goals it sets us on a positive trajectory, so even if we hit little setbacks, we stay on that course,” Bruce said.

She discussed the importance of rewarding one’s self for reaching a goal. Bruce made it clear that those rewards can be as small as a walk around the office or as big as going out to a nice dinner.

“I think some of the things she [Bruce] talked about is stuff we hear all the time, but it’s nice to hear it from someone else,” Billie Norton, assistant regional director for premiere partnerships at Bellevue University, said.

Bruce also stressed how crucial it is for women to have advocates in the workplace that will stick up for them when they are not around. She explained how performing at her highest work level gained her advocates.

“No one’s going to advocate for you unless you perform at your highest level,” Bruce said.

“I think this is good information for students to hear, because I think women have been taught all their lives to work hard, and unless someone notices how hard you’re working it’s not going to gain you anything in the system you’re working in,” Mary Andrews, clinical instructor in the social work program at UTC, said.

After Bruce spoke, the women were joined by UTC’s Experimental Learning Coordinator, Bengt Carlton. He introduced Matthew Brown, assistant director of student outreach and support, who talked about Scrappy’s Cupboard.

Brown explained how Scrappy’s cupboard worked and how people can make donations online.

The event finished with door prizes handed out to lucky women whose names were drawn out of a bag. Prizes included draw string bags, notepads, books and UTC gear.

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