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Metro Technology Centers’ Holds Third Annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium

Metro Technology Centers’ Holds Third Annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium

Third Annual Symposium Inspires, Educates, and Empowers Women

OKLAHOMA CITY – Metro Technology Centers’ celebrated the Third Annual Women’s Empowerment Symposium on Saturday, June 4, 2022, with a keynote speech from Chief Master Sergeant Michelle T. Browning of Tinker Airforce Base, over 30 vendors, five workshops, and more.  The event at Metro Tech’s STEM Academy is held to celebrate and support local entrepreneurs, authors, artists and agencies, and host speakers who can share information and inspire woman who live and work in the modern world.

Third Annual Women's Empowerment Symposium 2022
Third Annual Women's Empowerment Symposium 2022

Browning, of the 552nd Air Control Wing of Tinker Airforce Base discussed the importance of “women affirming women,” and the true meaning behind the term “keynote,” and how every woman has the capability to be a “keynote” in another woman’s life.

Browning told the audience stories about the different women she met while traveling on deployment who lacked affirmation, and confidence in themselves. “I met a young lady while I was in Berlin,” Browning said. “She was from China, and she was working at a restaurant. As we were talking, she asked, ‘What are you doing here? My goodness, aren’t you afraid?’ I said, ‘Afraid of what? What should I be afraid of?’ she said, ‘Well, you’re a woman.’

Browning said this is when she took the initiative to show the woman that she is capable of more than she may think. “She told me she always wanted to go to Normandy,” Browning said. “So, guess what, a couple months later we went to Normandy. Every woman in here is a keynote speaker, if you choose to be. If you want to be a key to start someone’s engine, and be a note to help another woman learn, we as women can do it all in one standing. What I would ask of women in this room who are trying to be the highest expression of themselves, affirm another woman.”

Third Annual Women's Empowerment Symposium 2022

The mid-morning event moderated by Tessa Martin, Business Conference Center Director, and MetroFit Instructor, featured a panel discussion with six women across six different industries ranging from construction to the tech industry. Martin posed three topics for the women to discuss, “Navigating the Hidden Rules as Working Women,” “The ‘Me2’ Movement,” and how it has affected the women in their work place, and how women can address inappropriate behavior or discrimination in the work place.

Forum panelists included: Ana Carmina Dange, with Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma, Isabel Chancellor, Founder, President, and Sole Owner of IngenuitE, Jenny Nguye, Vice President of the Asian District Cultural Association of Oklahoma City and Owner and Operator of Lee's Sandwiches, Collisha Lewis, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Tinker Federal Credit Union, Cristy Callins, Vice President of Pre-Construction at CMSWillowbrook and Dr. Christina R. Kirk, Municipal Court Judge for Langston and Coyle Oklahoma.

During lunch, MetroFit Line Dancers entertained the audience with a dance led by instructor, Cherissa Milton, while attendees got their choice of lunch from food truck’s, Maria’s Food Truck and Afonsos Smoked BBQ. After lunch, attendees had the opportunity to attend five different workshop sessions including: a self-defense seminar with Black Belt and Owner of She-Jitsu, Jennifer Gray; a financial education presentation with Giovanni Monterroso of Tinker Federal Credit Unit; a nutritional education presentation with Nutrition, Wellness Coach, and owner of The Fit Nutritionista, Jen Armstrong; and a motivational speech titled, “Confidence in Times of Uncertainty,” by President of What the Hellcat, and Certified Life Coach, Lorrie “Hellcat” Bamford.

Even Metro Tech’s own Auto Service Technical Assistants, Daniel Elizondo, and Donminic Goosby, led a workshop titled “Car Care Clinic: Have Your Own Back,” outside. To finish the day, Founder and Owner of OneSpirit Native American Church, Leticia Pizano, led all who were in attendance in a Native American prayer, where everyone participated in a traditional Native American dance circle. 

Vendor and partnership booths were also available for attendees to visit throughout the day. Partnership booths included the U.S. Air Force, Tinker Federal Credit Union, CMSWillowbrook, and more. Also in attendance was Integris Health, who set up a booth that offered free blood pressure and health screenings.

Vendor booths featured products and services of many women owned and operated businesses, and female entrepreneurs. For example, Imelda Fashion and Art Creations, a custom clothing design business that designs costumes and gowns for dance, theatre, quinceaneras, mariachi, and more, set up her own booth and displayed her work by dressing the women who came with her in traditional Hispanic gowns. Also setting up their own booth to advertise their small button making business was former Graphic Design Students of Metro Tech.

In preparation of the day’s events, Elena Troya, Metro Tech’s Workforce Development Coordinator, Liz Lee, Resource Development Coordinator, Ashley Gibson, MTC Foundation Director, Martin, and several others worked together to generate vendors, speakers, food trucks and interest. On Wednesday, Gibson led a training/meet-and-greet where the vendors, speakers, and the forum panelists could meet, network, and prepare for the day’s events. “We provide a customer service workshop before the symposium to help teach the vendors how to connect and build relationships with others that may help them build their businesses,” Guerrero-Lee said.

Troya said that the meaning and purpose of the annual symposium is a combination of many different components. “It provides opportunities for vendors, education, women and the public in general to come together to a peaceful location where they can express insights and opinions,” Troya said. “It’s about networking, and creating connections that will last for years. We [Metro Tech] are in the business of education, and empowerment through education, so that is what the Women’s Empowerment Symposium is about, knowledge by education."

One of the largest and most diverse technology centers in Oklahoma, Metro Tech has four campuses offering short-term, career and customized business training options. Campuses are located in South Oklahoma. City, Northeast Oklahoma City, Downtown Oklahoma.City and the Will Rogers Airport.