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First-ever Women to Women Conference held at HCC

The Halifax Community College Women of Excellence (WOE) mentoring group held its first-ever Women to Women Conference, April 15 in The Centre. Keynote speakers were Miss Black North Carolina USA RaSheeda Waddell and HCC Department Head of Humanities/Social Science and Instructor of Psychology Dr. Julie Dilday.


Waddell talked about competing in pageants and the toll it can take on a person. She described making changes to her hair and overall appearance in order to get ahead in the 2008 Miss North Carolina competition. She competed as the only African-American contestant that year. “I thought I was doing what I needed to do to be competitive and win. Despite doing all those things, I wasn’t aware of the internal conflict that I would have because of that experience,” she said. “The pageant experience really shook me. I wondered if people thought that was really who I was…and if I had pushed the limit as far as projecting who I wanted to be.”


Last fall, she entered the Miss Black North Carolina pageant and wondered if she would be willing to take the risk of not changing herself and possibly losing. “I decided that if I did not win, it was because it was not meant for me to win,” said Waddell. “It was important to me to be my true self.”


She arrived at the competition just wanting to be herself. This included competing with her natural hair, which her friends named “Coco Puff” in college. This could have been a challenge because, as she explained, her hair looks different every day. Of course, she worked out and was prepared to discuss her platform material. “I just polished up and projected my true self,” explained Waddell, whose platform is depression awareness.


“Girls came up and complimented my hair and that felt good. For years, I had heard bad things and that I needed to change,” she said.  After a period of reflection, Waddell realized that dealing with popular culture, family feedback and peer pressure had contributed to her feelings of inadequacy.


She added, “Accept your own personal uniqueness and your own sense of self…When you believe in yourself and make the decision and stand firm, you can change a negative experience into a positive one. You have the option to take it and change it into what you want it to be.”


“Good First Impressions: Are You Making or Breaking Your Image” was an interactive discussion led by Dilday. She started by talking about self-image—what it is, where it comes from and when it begins to develop in a person. “Your self-image has been developing since you were a child,” she said. The difference between perceived image and self-image was also discussed.


“When you meet someone for the first time, you pass judgment on them and think that’s who they are all the time. This is based on the first impression,” explained Dilday. “A good first impression reflects who you really are and you are portraying who you really are and that is the best part of yourself…If you present the best of yourself, the self you want to share, then you are making an impression that is right for you.”


Dilday stressed, “What matters most when it comes to image is how you see yourself and that what you see is someone very valuable, positive, worthwhile, and somebody that you can respect. If you can respect yourself and you see yourself in a positive light and you portray all those good qualities to others, then you are making your image.”


Other program participants included WOE Co-Chair Spinosa Gee Clements, North Carolina Comprehensive Community College SGA and HCC SGA President Theresa Raymond, Elsie Davenport, Kim Daily, and Shauna Jones.


The mission of WOE is to set the standards for females pursuing personal and professional excellence. Values include modeling dignity, honesty, integrity, respect and responsibility as a way of life. The mentoring program was established by Dean of Student Services and Enrollment Management Barbara Bradley-Hasty and developed by Director of Counseling Dr. Carolyn Stuart. SGA chartered the group in fall 2008.


Miss Black North Carolina USA RaSheeda Waddell

Miss Black North Carolina USA RaSheeda Waddell


Dr. Julie Dilday

Dr. Julie Dilday