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20 Years of groundbreaking, game changing education for adult women

One Day, we had a vision to bring more amazing women to college. And then, to bring college to more amazing women. With two decades of degrees, careers and stories of impact and inspiration behind us, we look back at the remarkable evolution of the One-Day-A-Week-Saturday Program and The American Women’s College, as we all continue to strive, grow and make our mark on a changing world.

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  1. “We dropped our first direct mail piece, and more than 100 women attended our first session. We were blown away! The phones were always ringing, and we knew we had something special. Over and over again, I heard the same message, ‘I have been waiting for a program like this.’ “

    Dr. Vana Nespor co-founder of One-Day-A-week Saturday program at Bay Path University
  2. The Beginning

    The revolution started on Saturday, October 30, 1999 at 7:30 AM, when approximately 50 women, ranging in age from 25 to 60, arrived on campus, opened their clean, blank notebooks and thereby changed all preconceived notions of who college is for—and how it should be experienced.
  3. Cultural Milestone: Women, Work and Wages

  4. Pioneers Graduate

    On May 19, 2001—81 Saturdays since that first class—we awarded 79 diplomas to the first graduates of the One-Day-A-Week Saturday program. The culmination of steadfast dreams, tireless ambition and unwavering dedication, not to mention the hundreds of pizza deliveries, skipped soccer games and missed date nights, the Pioneers’ graduation was a triumphant day. Over the next 20 years, approximately 4,000 more adult women would follow them to the podium to collect their diplomas as Bay Path graduates.
  5. Expansion

    By 2003, the notion that women would commit to a college program that accommodated their busy schedules was validated by the steady stream of women who filled classrooms on campus each Saturday, as well as ad hoc rooms that were added throughout the town of Longmeadow. With four years of solid attendance and three years of successful graduates as proof of concept that hundreds of women throughout southern New England were willing and able to give up their Saturdays for the opportunity to earn their degrees, Bay Path’s One-Day-A-Week model expanded eastward.
  6. The Rose Ceremony: Honoring the journey, as much as the destination.

    In 2003, Bay Path held its first Rose Ceremony. The event was brought to Bay Path by Vana Nespor, who had created it as a complement to the traditional cap and gown commencement, specifically to honor the remarkably driven women who had sacrificed family gatherings, date nights, dance recitals and sports events, not to mention precious hours of relaxation and downtime in pursuit of their degrees. Today, when our adult graduates step to the mike to celebrate their achievements, they often describe the longer, harder roads they’ve taken to their degrees and share stories of challenges, growth and self-actualization. There are tears, hugs and the flicker of flashbulbs as classmates, faculty, friends and families make this annual event one of the most inspiring and emotional experiences we share as a community.
  7. Cultural Milestone: The Internet

    There’s no question the changes that have shaped the last two decades have been powered by technology. The internet is now everywhere, our computers fit in our pockets and we create a stream of data every time we press a button. We’re conscious of the power of all this technology and focus on using it to enhance learning, build connections and most recently, to put students at the threshold of exciting careers in cybersecurity and data science.
  8. A Decade of Success

    By 2009, what had started as an idea had blossomed into three locations throughout Massachusetts and over 1,100 bachelor’s degrees awarded to adult women. At that first decade mark, we took a look back at all that we and our graduates had accomplished. Full of pride in what these amazing women had achieved, we asked alumni and current students to share thoughts and memories of the program that had changed their lives.
  9. The American Women's College Launches

    The rise of technology, sophisticated data gathering and analysis capabilities, virtual classrooms, and digital learning materials have profoundly disrupted higher education. Education leaders, especially those who work with non-traditional students, saw the incredible potential in these new tools and have embraced them to not only create and enhance courses, but also to give students who do not—and cannot—fit into the campus-centric model of learning access to college. Today, about one in six college students is enrolled in an exclusively online program, totaling more than 3 million students.
  10. Cultural Milestones: Women in Congress

  11. An Award Winning Model

    In 2014, after formally launching The American Women’s College, Bay Path was awarded a $3.5 million “First in the World” grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As a result of the grant, a team from Bay Path was invited by the Obama administration to the White House College Opportunity Day of Action to share insight on the development of this revolutionary and effective delivery model. In the years since, TAWC has garnered significant recognition and ongoing investment to strengthen its mission of providing a practical, accessible and affordable education to the thousands of students it serves.
  12. Cultural Milestone: Pop Culture

  13. “We are far from finished, especially for those whom an undergraduate education is the difference between thriving and falling further behind. So we will continue the revolution we started, and we will not let them down.”

    Amanda Gould Vice President for Analytics & Innovative Technology at Bay Path University