Most days, Seward County Community College business instructor Lisa Kennedy keeps her focus local and personal.
During the spring of 2015, however, the professional who teaches students to be professionals traveled far from home to New York City. She attended the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters. She could hardly wait to soak it all in, then bring fresh ideas back to the classrooms in SCCC/ATS’s business division.
Kennedy earned a $1,000 scholarship from the Kansas Council of Instructional Administrators (KCIA). SCCC/ATS Dean of Academic Affairs Cynthia Rapp presented her with the check just as the new semester got off to a start.
Kennedy said the Commission was to focus on the current challenges to gender inequality and the empowerment of women. Talk of the challenges women face is no textbook exercise. Kennedy sees the struggle daily in her classes, which often include students who are the first in their families to attend high school and college.
“Our population has an extremely high multi-ethnicity rate, and I am learning about the challenges that women face within each specific culture,” Kennedy said. “That specific demographic of students faces a unique set of circumstances as they navigate through the educational process."
As she teaches aspects of business, from keyboard to marketing and entrepreneurship, Kennedy pours her passion in helping students connect good business concepts to everyday life, down to such details as dressing for success at job interviews. Along with her students in the Enactus business club on campus, Kennedy helped establish the E-Boutiqe, a combination retail shop and wardrobe closet for women re-entering the workforce.
“As an instructor, I want to empower these students to take advantage of the opportunities they have to make a better life for themselves,” Kennedy said. “I knew the Commission would provide me with networking opportunities with other women who are empowering students from across the United States. We will be able to collaborate with professionals to share success stories, and encourage each other as we seek to empower the youth in our educational systems.”
As she set out to explore the Big Apple for the first time, Kennedy was keenly aware that she, like many of her students, would be learning on the fly, encountering a slightly foreign culture, and making her way through the unfamiliar. She said the experience would help her to understand her students, and inspire her as she returned to campus. The big goal, she said, “is teach them ways to give back to their community and ethnic groups while paving the way for those who follow in their footsteps.”