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April 17, 2015 : Annual Women’s Conference Delivers Inspiration
When more than 100 women of all ages gathered at the Ohio University Proctorville Center for the 5th Annual Women’s Conference, it was a dream come true for Center director, Stephanie Burcham. After attending a similar event at the Lancaster campus nearly a decade ago, she was inspired to bring the concept to Proctorville. “I still remember the feeling I had after attending that event. There’s just something very rewarding about bringing together women of different backgrounds to share in a day filled with learning and networking opportunities,” she said.
The day’s agenda was chock full of interesting workshops designed to acknowledge, empower, support and enrich the lives of women. From tips on cyber safety, business etiquette, and volunteerism to Muay Lao Boxing, benefits of the Paleo Diet, Tri-State day trips and many more, it was truly a day of celebration.
The unique blend of young and older generations was none the more evident that with Ella Jones, an associate professor in accounting technology and applied management at the Southern campus who hosted a workshop on the basics of golf. After entering the sport at age 50, she now shares her love of the game with her 12-year-old granddaughter and 84-year-old mother-in-law. However, in today’s business world, she is quick to remind us that golf is about more than the mechanics of the game. “It’s about discovering the connections we have with other people. Sometimes, the conversations on the golf course lead to other, more relevant relationships that carry over to other aspects of our life, career and family,” she said.
The Women’s Conference was filled with plenty of special moments. Thanks to the generosity of a local bank that provided scholarships for high school girls to attend with their school counselors, a younger generation experienced the value of the workshops. “It’s really important for young ladies to broaden their horizons as they prepare for the next phase of life. They represent the future leaders of our community,” said Jodi Rowe-Collins, executive vice president for Citizen’s Deposit Bank and a longtime member of the conference planning committee.
Delores Johnson, a retired high school English teacher and former creative writing instructor from Huntington, West Virginia, hosted a workshop on journal writing.  As a newcomer to the conference, she was enthused by the level of interest in the class. “I have an entire closet dedicated to my journals. It’s a way for us to put our thoughts and feelings into words, even if we’re the only ones who see them,” she shared with the roomful of ladies.  
One of the high points of the conference came during the luncheon. The guest speaker was Ohio Representative Dorothy Pelanda from the 86th District.  She shared her humble beginnings of growing up on a farm and the inner conflicts she faced while pursuing an early career in law and starting a family. “As women, we often try to be all things to all people all the time, but sometimes we fall short of this.     I came to the realization that I could have it all, just not all at once,” she said.
Dr. Kristi Barnes, associate professor of psychology and chair of this year’s conference planning committee, emphasized the importance of understanding the various roles that women occupy at home, work and within the communities they live. “It’s great to be in the company of people that we may not otherwise encounter in our daily life. As women, we often have many passions and it’s wonderful to be able to share that with other women,” she said.
Among the workshop presenters and those who attended, everyone seemed pleased with the way their day was spent. For at least eight hours, the focus was on ways that women can live an even more fulfilling life and take time for themselves.
In her closing remarks during the lunch, Representative Pelanda offered some words of wisdom to the crowd. “Dream big, accept failure as a necessary consequence of learning, and value every interaction with another person as an opportunity for growth and insight.”