Asnuntuck and Tunxis Community Colleges have received more than $22,000 in renewed grant support from Aurora Women and Girls Foundation for “Launch Your Leadership Journey” (LYLJ), a tuition-free, experiential leadership development program for female students at both colleges.

During the semester-length program, students learn leadership qualities and gain practical experience in leading change by working in small teams to plan and execute social action projects. They are also assigned female mentors for support and guidance, and participate in a series of Saturday workshops that cover leadership presence, goal setting, neutralizing gender bias, leading with courage and other timely topics. 

“We are grateful for this grant, and to our sponsors for their financial support of this important initiative,” said Asnuntuck and Tunxis Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education Eileen Peltier, who leads the program with support and development from Asnuntuck Director of Student Activities Sherry Paquette, and others at both colleges. “The support from all of these organizations is a vote of confidence in our program and in our students,” she added. “We are thrilled that we were able to successfully replicate this program at Tunxis and look forward to further expansion in the coming years.”

A total of 65 women have graduated from Asnuntuck’s program, which was founded in 2014 to address the needs expressed by female students at Asnuntuck who wanted to develop their leadership skills. The program kicked off at Tunxis in 2019 with 13 students. The lead facilitator of the program is Ann Gowdey, president of Ann Gowdey Consulting, who has 30 years of experience in executive and leadership development, with an emphasis on the personal and professional success of women leaders in all roles.

“Aurora’s grantmaking for women’s college success in Greater Hartford has reached an exciting stage. Innovative programs we have identified and funded are demonstrating such a high level of success that they are being replicated on additional campuses, with ‘Launch Your Leadership Journey’ being a fabulous example,” said Aurora Executive Director Jenny Steadman. “More programs mean that more women in our community have the tools they need to achieve their educational and career goals. With the help of these programs, these women will achieve economic security and go on to become the next generation of leaders in our community.”

Asnuntuck graduate Claudia Cupe gained a “sisterhood” in her fellow participants during the LYLJ program, and the experience taught her to be persistent in reaching her goals. “The curriculum helped me regain my confidence and courage that had been buried deep down inside me,” Cupe said. She was one of three Launch Your Leadership Journey graduates to receive all three awards presented in May at Asnuntuck’s commencement.

In addition to the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, the program at Asnuntuck is funded in part by the Asnuntuck Community College Foundation, the Carol Rivest Memorial Foundation, and ShopRite of Enfield, operated by the Miller family. The Tunxis program received a $5,000 donation from Farmington Bank Community Foundation, and is also sponsored in part by Highland Park Market of Farmington.

 To be selected for the program, students must submit an application which includes a minimum GPA requirement, a written statement that explains why they want to develop leadership abilities, and attend an interview. 

Asnuntuck Community College, located in Enfield, was established in 1972. ACC offers associate degrees and certificate programs to prepare students for careers, transfer opportunities, and lifelong learning. The mission of the College is to offer quality education in an accessible, affordable, and nurturing environment.

From fine arts, health, and technology to business and advanced manufacturing programs, Tunxis Community College offers more than 70 associate degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need. Tunxis is located at the junction of Routes 6 and 177 in Farmington.

The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation is the only women and girls fund exclusively focused on the needs of women and girls in Greater Hartford, and it is currently the only free-standing foundation in Connecticut focused solely on supporting groups that serve women and girls. Aurora’s goal through its grant making is to empower more women to complete their college education, enabling them to better their lives and those of their families. Since 2000, the Foundation has provided more than $860,000 in grants to programs in the region that supported 4,500 women and girls in Greater Hartford.