It was just about 10 years ago that Linda's life fell apart. Up until then she had spent 25 seemingly happy years as a pastor's wife, volunteering at the church and home schooling her four children. Then, quite unexpectedly her husband left the marriage, and suddenly she was on her own, facing a devastating personal crisis with no marketable skills. "I knew I would have to go back to school so that I could develop skills in something and support my family, but I was in a panic."
Throughout her entire life, Linda had been intrigued by medical information. She'd been exposed to the hospital while her son had a childhood illness and she was fascinated. She always thought that if the day came she had to support herself, she would do it via nursing, so she came to Lakeland. "Lucky for me, a staff member at the Women's Center nabbed me while I was wandering in the hallway and that is what made all the difference."
Linda started with just a few classes, and participated in the Student Mother's Achieving Real Triumph (SMART) program, a supportive network for women who face the challenges of balancing college, parenting and a job. At the end of the first year, Linda got a grant enabling her to get STNA training, which provided employment in the medical field for the rest of her college years. She worked hard and was lucky that her kids were good students and were on board with her goals. She says, "My kids learned early. I told them, ‘I have my homework and you have yours,' and that's just how it was."
There were many twists and turns in Linda's life during her education; two of her kids got married, and she got remarried – very happily! – and moved. That caused her to leave Lakeland and transfer to Kent State Ashtabula. In 2018, after years of persistence, she was awarded an Associate's Degree from KSU and became a Registered Nurse. She continued her education and earned her BSN in February 2020. Incredibly, she has just started working at her dream job as a hospice nurse. In her excitement, Linda explains, "I tell my patients I am an old new nurse. Some nurses my age are tired and ready to retire, but not me. Things are fresh and different, and I feel called to hospice."
When looking back at her time at Lakeland, Linda says, "I can't imagine how I would have gotten anywhere without the Women's Center. I went there nearly every day! I used to say they should have a padded place where we could go and bang our heads against the wall! I was so overwhelmed and had no confidence but the Women's Center was such an anchor. You always knew you would find a hug, great support and hopefully some good candy. There was so much I didn't know, and I had to ask. The Women's Center is where I went to ask, over and over.
"For me, transitioning from being a pastor's wife and being the person who took care of everyone to being a person who needed support and care, well, that was difficult. I was a fish out of water, at a loss, terrified. I was so green when it came to any kind of electronics! How would I type a paper? But bit by bit your confidence builds. You do well on an assignment, you have a supportive teacher and you find that you ace their class. It gets better."
Linda's large family was supportive, but she told her kids, "You can't make me a grandmother until you throw me a graduation party." Sure enough, at her party on the night she graduated, her son and daughter in law made that special announcement; she would, indeed, be a grandmother!
"It was a long road, and so many times I thought I would quit. But you can't because you want so much to believe in yourself. And then that starts to happen and you do begin to believe in yourself. The Women's Center helped me do that." She wraps up by saying, "my 40s were hard but so far the 50s are pretty good! I'm in my happy place now."
Clotilda graduated this (2020) with a degree in human services. She also earned a certificate in Chemical Dependency and Case Management. Clotilda has been working in her dream field for 8 months already. She feels well-matched and loves her position at New Directions, which she plans to continue, while pursuing her bachelor's degree with Lakeland's Holden University Center at Youngstown State University. Clotilda, originally from Africa with a rich heritage of equal parts Zimbabwean and Zambian, is passionate about all students, especially international students. She urges everyone to embrace the "new world" of education and proclaims that "You have got to do what you've got to do" during the pandemic and online schooling. Clotilda also insists that alertness, awareness and involvement will help support new students as they find their own, right path. Of course, she also encourages students to become involved in the Women's Center, which she calls her home away from home.
"I never thought I would get there, but here I am, a butterfly, who has escaped the cocoon, and I am now onto my next chapter in life. I can never say enough about the Women's Center, or what they have done for me. They made me who I am today, and with that I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I leave Lakeland with a little piece of everyone who has crossed paths with me, and I will be forever grateful for the encouragement, empowerment and positive support I received from the women of Lakeland."
The Women's Center first met Erin when she joined our FEMM program (Female Empowerment Through Merging Minds). When this tall, poised young woman walked in we were amazed that she was a high school student. She continues to impress us to this day, when we can proudly state that she graduated with a 3.97. Erin will be attending Cleveland State in the fall where she will be studying political science and pre-law. Erin says, "Lakeland and programs like the Women's Center have made it possible for me to succeed as a high school student in college."
"As a student who has encountered a fair share of bumps in the road, I would tell other students not to be discouraged by setbacks or failure-- learn from them instead. Remember that the present moment is the only time and space where we truly exist. So wherever you are, be fully present, make the most of it, and don't wait/wish for a more convenient opportunity (because it may or may not come). We often allow self-doubt and the thought of possible ‘worst-case scenarios' to stop us from achieving goals. Likewise, we brood over setbacks that cannot be changed, like delays or interruptions in attaining our college degree. But exactly where you are is where you're supposed to be. Don't stop 'till you're proud!"
"Something I learned from my father; you cannot reach perfection while you are stressed. It is a pretty tough moment for everyone now, during the covid 19 pandemic. My advice for women new to challenges would be ‘Always remember to be grateful, stay positive, and keep a smile on your face no matter what the situation.'
The day that I found out that all my classes were going to be online, I had mixed feelings. I was happy because I did not have to wake up early and drive around with school responsibilities. I was also sad because I did not know how my Chemistry class was going to be online. My teacher is a very nice person and he expects quality work. I did not realize how serious the shutdown was until I received a call from the Women's Center. Mary called me and said to me, ‘Hi Alta, how are you doing? You are on my support list, so I called to make sure you are doing okay with the transition.' I started to ask her lots of questions and she answered all of them. She also informed me about all the help that is available on campus. I want to thank the Women's Center for their support since the first day I walked into Lakeland." Alta is a native of Haiti and is heading toward the Lakeland nursing program.
Teevi Tasane Champa and Kristel Champa are a mother and daughter duo enrolled at Lakeland. They would both like to encourage other women who are enrolled this semester and have been forced into an all on-line curriculum. Teevi says, "Don't give up! Be positive! We only have two weeks until the end of the semester and I believe in you all. Give your best!" Kristel reminds us, "Like they say in cross country, finish strong." Both women credit the Women's Center with helping them stay positive, and providing needed support and resources. Teevi enjoyed visiting the virtual office hours. "The Women's Center gave me such positive energy during the web call. We had such a great laugh!" Her final message is, "If the end gets hard, call the Women's Center or reach out to me. We're all in this together."
As a young high school graduate, Tracey Schveder was unable to move away and embrace a "traditional" college lifestyle. Rather, she stayed home to take care of her father who was ill with cancer. This is when Lakeland first came into her life. She earned a couple of certificates in Accounting and Business Management, but stopped there to get married and raise three daughters. When her youngest one started school, and Tracey was 39, she headed back to Clocktower Drive.
"I was so glad that I was approached by Mary from the Women's Center when I went back to school," Tracey said. "The WC was so supportive of me and they gave me a sense of belonging as I went through 3 years as a student."
Tracey earned an associate's degree in 2010 and went on for a bachelor's. "I was happy for the Franklin University partnership that allowed me to get my bachelor's degree while I did my studies from home. Without these programs I would not have been able to get my education."
These days, Tracey is using her education to follow her passion, which is health insurance. "I have always had an interest in our health care system, since my Dad grew sick with cancer. I am very passionate about improving our health care in the USA. My dream is to assist in creating a health care system that is excellent for ALL Americans." Tracey is getting a head start on that dream as a Licensed Health Insurance Broker in a new Health Plan Superstore at the Great Lakes Mall. As an advocate, she guides people through our very complex system, at no cost, and helps them obtain insurance plans via the Affordable Care Act or Medicare.
But going back to when Tracy was a student… at that time, the Women's Center offered Saturday potluck luncheons for students who were enrolled on the weekends. Tracey attended and brought her daughters on occasion. As Kim, Tracey's middle daughter, approached her high school years, Tracey encouraged her to attend Lakeland through the PSEO (now CCP) program. Kim was already comfortable on campus and considered the Women's Center to be her on-campus home. Additionally, she couldn't wait to take math classes here.
It turns out Kim LOVES math. She cites Calculus 1 and 2 as the best Lakeland classes she took. She was so gifted that she became a tutor for other students in math. After two years, Kim got her AA and AS just weeks before receiving her high school diploma. She stayed at Lakeland one more year and joined Phi Theta Kappa which resulted in scholarships for Cleveland State. By taking every possible class she could at Lakeland's lower prices, and applying for all the scholarships she knew about, Kim was able to walk the stage for bachelor's degree with money in her pocket!
At Cleveland State, Kim was a part of the McNair Scholars program, which empowers low income and first-generation college students in the sciences. This got her noticed by the University of Akron who offered her a teaching assistantship, which meant she got a master's degree in statistics for free. With that checked off her list, she is taking a "gap" year while searching for a PhD program. What is she doing during her gap year? Teaching math at Lakeland, of course! Amazingly, she has accomplished all this by age 23!
"It feels great to be back," she says. "I liked my other schools but I missed Lakeland daily."
Although only a few weeks into the semester, Kim is enjoying her teaching job here (two sections of Math 0850.) She also looks forward to continuing her passion with a PhD in bio statistics or data science. She loves encouraging students and says, "If you went through problems in your childhood or teen years, the grit and determination that got you through will also help you succeed in college. Those qualities will help you grow and become a better person!"
It seems all the women in the Schveder family are following their goals and passions. According to mom, Tracy, "When I graduated from Franklin University, I passed my Lakeland book bag on to my oldest daughter and she is now a teacher at Cleveland Heights School District and working on her master's degree. I then inspired my second daughter Kim to try the high school program at LCC and she journeyed through Lakeland, Cleveland State University, and Akron University. She is now starting her professional career at Lakeland as a math professor. My youngest daughter attended Auburn Career Center and she is now my favorite beautician. I love seeing how my daughters are persevering and growing into strong young women."
Isn't it amazing how education can impact a family!
Lake County Silent Witness Project Memorial Ceremony shines light on domestic violence
via The News-Herald
"It's important to have a place to go to reconsider certain options and to talk things over."
"If it was not for the Women's Center, I would not still be attending Lakeland."
"In my opinion, at Lakeland I have found the most support, encouragement and community at the Women's Center. I could not have done this without them."
"I love you guys! You all are very helpful and make my day every time I come through that door."