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"Passing the Torch": The American Women's College Launches Project Grow

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On Wednesday, October 25, 2017 in Empsall Hall, an evening reception was held to celebrate the recent partnership of Pass the Torch with Bay Path University and honor the first cohort of Project Grow participants under this initiative. This year, 22 students of The American Women’s College (TAWC) of Bay Path University are participating, representing the first-ever group of online mentor-mentee pairs connected through Pass the Torch.

During the yearlong program, each student will be paired with one or more mentors. Comprised of Bay Path trustees, faculty and staff, a number of mentors also attended Wednesday’s reception.

“Bay Path is all about empowering women,” Kara Murray, a mentor and financial services staff member of TAWC, said. “This is an opportunity to do just that, and to build important relationships with people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to connect with, since the online students are from all over the country. It’s a really cool thing.”

Murray’s mentee, Cecile Turgeon, a student in the RN to BSN program, came to the reception from West Warwick, Rhode Island, to meet her mentor face-to-face.

“I’m always looking for more opportunities for personal and professional development,” Turgeon said. “Having the chance to bounce ideas off of someone while I work towards the next step in my career will help me improve tremendously.”

The TAWC Project Grow students were nominated for participation primarily by their professors and instructors who had taken note their high academic achievement, professionalism, and enthusiasm.

“Knowing how we were nominated is really neat,” Ashley Weidner, a business student from Enfield, Connecticut, said. “I’ve never had a mentor before, but I’m really stuck on trying to figure out my path. I’m looking forward to the guidance my mentor, Mary [Bushnell], has to offer. Even though the program has just started, she’s been very enthusiastic and a great listener.” 

Weidner’s mentor, Bushnell, is a Bay Path Trustee whose generous donation made the program partnership possible.  

“At Bay Path, we have created phenomenal opportunities for women to get an education at any stage in life,” Bushnell said. “To have TAWC available for women who need a little more flexibility in their lives as they seek higher education is very important to me. They’re balancing a lot. The support is invaluable. And the personal connection for me is a treat. I hope in some small way to help Ashley as she studies and pursues new challenges in her career, and as a Trustee, I’m grateful for her feedback, too. It will help to make the program more valuable for students going forward.”

The ongoing mentorship program through Pass the Torch is organized by Gretchen Heaton, TAWC’s Director of Career Development and Prior Learning Assessment, whose professional background has had a strong emphasis on mentorship and its importance.

“I’ve been mentoring for a long time and have taught mentoring in the past. It’s been a very meaningful part of my life, but I am brand new to TAWC, so this is a wonderful way for me to get to know the students and understand their needs better,” Heaton said. “I was so excited to learn about Pass the Torch and so glad this partnership was in the works when I came on board. I now have the chance to look closely at the unique characteristics of our student body and tailor this program to their needs.”

A final goal of the reception was to announce to the public that this event is a part of a new and considerably broader initiative to bring targeted career development opportunities to TAWC students.


Christine Lane
Sherry Pollard
Laura Landry
Ashley Smyth
Stephanie Williams
Stephanie Woodman
Valerie Vicari
Michele Chernack-McNulty
Denise Santiago
Kelly Schindler
Kim Sykes
Marion Gillis
Nilda Reyes
Alyssa Foss
April Carchietta
Malvina Drummond-Goldfarb
Christine Littlehale
Becky Morris
Cecile Turgeon
Tiffany Hertzberg
Ashley Weidner
Colleen Derrick-Hayer


Julie Heckscher
Mary Bushnell
Leslie Scheer
Erin Hornyk
Susan Rooney
Maura Devlin
Kara Murray
Jennifer Duffy
Rachel Baum
Gail Kulas
Janice McNeil
Sara Milillo
Marina Kamenetskiy
Heather Bushey
Gretchen Heaton
Josie Camerota
Lori Roop
Estela Lopez
Lynn Pellerano
Kathy Devlin
Susan Abello
Gloria Smith
Dianne Doherty
Barbara  O'Connor