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Exhibit honoring female veterans unveiled during Women’s Center event at Joint-Use Library

Tidewater Community College President Edna Baehre-Kolovani celebrated leadership, community and philanthropy at the Women’s Center fall donor “thank you” reception that also served as an unveiling for a photography exhibit recognizing the role of female veterans.

Therese Hughes’ “In a Heart Beat” photography exhibit highlighting 98 female veterans from World War II to the present will be at the Joint-Use Library on the Virginia Beach Campus through Jan. 30.

“This exhibit provides an historical and pictorial overview of women’s roles in the United States military,” Kolovani said. “This exhibit graphically details the struggles and achievements of female armed forces members and the crucial roles they played in making our military a remarkable force for justice and peace in our modern world.”

Keynote speaker Vanessa Christie, a former F-14 Navy aviator who is featured in the exhibit, spoke on the importance of giving back in the community. Christie is vice president of Prevailance, Inc., a Virginia Beach defense contractor that sponsored Hughes’ exhibit, and Prevailance Aerospace, a flight safety academy in Chesapeake. Prevailance, Inc., also has established a scholarship at TCC.

“We often talk at Prevailance about contributing to things that are greater than ourselves,” Christie said. “TCC does that same thing, and I think that’s why there’s a natural synergy between the college and our companies.”

From left, Felicia Blow, Therese Hughes, Vanessa Christie, Edna Baehre-Kolovani, Ingrid McGowan and Jeanne Natali
From left, Felicia Blow, Therese Hughes, Vanessa Christie,
Edna Baehre-Kolovani, Ingrid McGowan and Jeanne Natali.

Christie introduced Hughes, who shared some of the stories behind her framed black-and-white  photographs hanging on the walls of the Joint-Use Library. Each features a story of a female veteran, ranging from Alyce Dixon, one of the first African-American women in the Army; Lt. Col. Mae McGrath, stationed in Germany in 1948; and Hughes’ own mother, a dispersing officer in the Army.

“The seeds started with my mother and I went from there,” Hughes said. “I know my mother served for the willingness to serve a larger cause, and all of these women I met have done the same thing.”

Following Hughes, Felica Blow, TCC’s vice president of institutional advancement, shared the story of student Ingrid McGowan, a beneficiary of emergency assistance from the Women’s Center. Despite being homeless for three days and battling serious health problems, McGowan completed her Associate of Science in Social Sciences last spring and is working on a second TCC associate degree.

“Whether it was through their encouragement, providing me with a calculator to help me be successful in my math class, serving as a place of respite or cheering me on when times are tough, the Women’s Center helped me to keep going and finish my degree,” McGowan said.

Jeanne Natali, coordinator for International Programs, concluded the program by thanking many in the audience whose contributions allowed the Women’s Center to provide programs and services to more than 10,000 students. Private giving enabled the Women’s Center to provide $9,000 in emergency assistance, allowing nine students to remain in college.

“As Ingrid’s story illustrates, even the smallest amount of monetary support can empower students to thrive in the classroom and beyond,” Natali said.

Kolovani also lauded TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education, a one-stop shop serving military related students and their families with academic and career planning. In addition, she read from a Certificate of Recognition sent by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in honor of Veterans Day.