Booker T. Washington said that “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” For some people, there may be many obstacles to overcome on the road to attaining a college degree. Lone Star College-Kingwood recently opened a new “Women’s Center” to help women (and men) overcome obstacles, attain goals and resolve personal issues. Diane Blanco, the Women’s Center administrator, said, “We are an empowerment center. We have a lot of displaced homemakers and single mothers who are trying to balance school, home, maybe a job as well, and there may or may not be someone there encouraging them and guiding them toward resources to help them. According to Blanco, the Women’s Center will connect women with available resources in the community. “We have many nonprofits that have resources available to those who live in the service area and a lot of our students are not aware of the resources. Sometimes they have not been in the situation before, and do not know to whom to turn. There’s food, clothing counseling services, assistance with rent, utilities and job assistance.” Blanco added, “We also hope to help women to connect with mentors and encouragers and also to connect with each other through support groups, informal gatherings and programs at the Women’s Center.” Dr. Katherine Persson, president of LSC-Kingwood, noted, “We have found that when a student is engaged, not only with their faculty member and with other staff, but also with other students, they are more likely to persist and to successfully complete a course and then go on to the next semester.” One student who has already benefitted from interacting with Blanco and the Women’s Center is Keyatta Crews. Keyatta established She Fights Back, a nonprofit organization for domestic violence victims. “Diane has been an incredible resource for me and since I met her, things have really been great, so many doors have opened for my organization,” said Crews. “Diane’s kindness and passion for helping others is so inspiring. She welcomed me with open arms. She’s a great person and is very inspiring. She motivates you to do your best, regardless of your situation. She tries to help in any way possible. She’s wonderful. “Diane has been vital with helping me with many things,” added Crews. Among them, Crews, with the help of Blanco, will be putting on workshops and group meetings for survivors of domestic abuse (and anyone else interested) at the Women’s Center on a variety of topics, including self-esteem improvement, life coaching, financial issues/budgeting and empowerment.” Next fall, Blanco is planning to roll out a mentor program. The goal is to find mentors “who are on their way, successful in their careers, who are willing to spend some time mentoring a student who may not have anyone encouraging or supporting them.” Blanco estimates the time commitment for mentors will be a few hours per month. Blanco noted the Women’s Center “is also a great place for women in the community to connect with the college and to see what resources are available. Any women in the community are welcome to come to the Women’s Center. Right next door to the Women’s Center is the Career Center, which can help members of the community with job placement. The Career Center will also complete Vocational Interest Testing, which is free to members of the community. Picture: Diane Blanco encourages students Shamiravon Ross, Jessica Lonclor and Crystalann McAnally to participate in activities at the new Women’s Center.

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