Nadia Summers likes the idea of being first.
When she graduates from the Forensic Science program this week, she will be the very first EmpowHER graduate to earn an associate degree at Fox Valley Technical College.
But if you were to rewind to fall of 2018, Nadia would tell you she felt like she was bringing up the end of the line more than anything else.
“When I started at FVTC, I lived in the dorms and that didn’t work out for me,” Nadia said. “I’m an introverted person and it didn’t feel right, so I had to get an apartment. I was also working full time and dealing with major depressive disorder. I felt like everything was falling apart.”
Before her college career completely fell apart, Nadia sought help from the FVTC Counseling and Advising Office and was eventually connected with the EmpowHER program. Between EmpowHER and a grant from the Women's Fund for the Fox Valley Region, Nadia was exposed to resources and workshops that helped her navigate the college process. Help ranged from mental health and coping skills to practical measures like planning a budget and time management.
“This program helped me become more secure,” Nadia said. “It helped me to successfully transition from high school to college and better handle my classes and my work. I felt like I had an advocate.”
Return now to present day, Nadia already has the next step in her educational journey lined up. In May, she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB).
“I always liked Forensics so I never changed what I was studying at FVTC,” Nadia said. “Now I want to continue at UWGB and study Psychology with a mental health emphasis. The next goal is to become a licensed therapist.”
EmpowHER is a 12-week workshop designed specifically for women ages 18-29 who do not have children and meet other eligibility requirements. The program is offered on the Appleton Campus and Waupaca Regional Center.