July Updates

Jul 20, 2021

Career Launch spotlight: Melissa’s path to restored confidence and paying it forward

Star Scholar Melissa has overcome significant, devastating obstacles on her path to completing her degree and creating a brighter future – trauma that has caused her to struggle with her identity, self-worth, and personal safety. Throughout these challenges, she has maintained hope, resiliency, and determination, as well as a deep sense of compassion and a personal drive to help others.

“My goal is to use the difficulties I’ve faced in life to help others navigate their own struggles without losing their identity. I feel that God has pulled me through some unimaginable circumstances, and I see how hope and faith are opening doors. WWIN helped me start trusting in others again and helped me repair my broken confidence. I cannot wait to pay it forward!”

With support from WWIN, Melissa graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management. She has channeled her passion for helping others into a new position with a large mental health agency, where she provides counseling and support to individuals in crisis. In just the past six months, Melissa has continued to build on her new skills by becoming a Certified Peer Counselor and completing a course in suicide prevention through the University of Washington Psychiatry Department.

Melissa is one of the first women to participate in WWIN’s Career Launch program, which provides personalized support from a certified coach to graduating Star Scholars. Through a series of 18 sessions over six to nine months, women work one-on-one with their coaches to build the skills and confidence to successfully transition from completing their education to beginning their new careers. All Star Scholars who meet their scholarship requirements are eligible to work with a coach at no personal cost, thanks to generous philanthropic support from our community.

WWIN created the Career Launch program in July 2019 in response to feedback from our Star Scholars, who, like many new graduates, often walked across the graduation stage and found themselves asking, “What now?” The program has already helped nine Star Scholars move forward with confidence after graduation – and another six, including Melissa, are currently enrolled. Melissa feels supported by her coach, and she credits her coaching sessions with helping her build the confidence to succeed in her new career and continue setting and achieving her own goals.

Each woman’s experience in coaching is unique, tailored specifically to her needs. Coaching sessions focus on a variety of hard and soft skills: from creating a resume, interviewing, and negotiating a job offer to learning to advocate for oneself, set personal and professional goals, and navigate work and family responsibilities. Women who have completed the Career Launch program all report that they feel more confident and empowered to make the most of the next chapter of their lives and careers. WWIN knows that graduation isn’t the ultimate finish line for our Star Scholars – it’s the beginning of a lifelong journey of continuous learning and personal growth. We are so excited for Melissa and all our Star Scholars as they achieve their dreams and shine a light for others in their communities.

Welcome, new Board members!

We are delighted to announce the expansion of our Board of Directors with nine new members in fiscal year 2022. Please join us in welcoming Amy Barnes, CFP, CIMA (Firebrand Wealth Management), Ana Foy, MPA (Northshore School District), Bindu Sutaria, MBA (Parametric), Britni Babington (Heritage Bank), Ciera Graham, MEd, PhD (Pierce College), Jenna Lange, MBA(Lange International), Jiawen Shi (Metia), Michelle Terry, MD (University of Washington and Seattle Children’s), and Yvette Moy, MPA (University of Washington). These outstanding individuals bring diverse experience and insight to enrich our work and benefit our community.

Guided by the belief that every woman is worthy, WWIN’s mission is to empower women in Washington State to achieve economic stability through higher education and living wage careers. Through their strategic guidance and fiscal oversight, the Board plays a crucial role in advancing our mission.

We are also pleased to recognize the members of the Executive Board for their extraordinary leadership, including incoming President Elizabeth Sholander, CRC (Columbia Bank), Vice President Adrien Zeumault, MBA (Community Volunteer), Vice President Nickie Smith (Microsoft), Treasurer Shawn McCord, MS, CPA, PS (CPA), and Secretary Bindu Sutaria, MBA(Parametric). Your thoughtful guidance throughout an exceptionally challenging year have made all the difference for WWIN and for our Star Scholars.Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Lori Cummings, PHR, SHRM – CP, our outgoing Board President, for her six years of visionary leadership and her tireless dedication to changing the lives of women in Washington State.


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