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Magazine Feature to Profile New Choices/New Options Graduate

Willie Mae Weaver says the New Choices/New Options life skills-career guidance program at Pennsylvania College of Technology instilled her with newfound poise and self-confidence.

Her confidence received another boost recently when she traveled to the New York City offices of Family Circle magazine for an interview and “makeover” for an article that will appear in a spring issue of the national women’s publication.

The result was a life-changing experience, Weaver said recently after returning to the Penn College campus to recount her experiences for New Choices/New Options Coordinator Henrietta K. Hadley.

“I felt pampered. I felt special that day,” Weaver said of the attention she received.

The impetus for the article was a session in October, when magazine editors and representatives of the “Work Your Image” initiative met in New York City to assess the program’s progress. Weaver was chosen to participate based upon Hadley’s nomination.

Work Your Image is a joint venture sponsored by “Women Work! The National Network for Women’s Employment” and the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. It’s designed to help women in job-training programs create a professional appearance in order to get and keep good jobs in a highly competitive employment market. The program distributes guides and worksheets to 1,400 education, training and employment programs that are part of the national Women Work! network.

Weaver, a mother of four daughters who has spent most of her adult life as a stay-at-home Navy wife, completed Penn College’s New Choices/New Options program in 2000. It has helped her land a job as a mental-health worker in the state prison system.

“I never had a sense of accomplishment; it opened up a lot of avenues for me,” she said of the New Choices/New Options program. “It gave me new enlightenment for my life. I’m bolder. I’m more confident.”

Work Your Image paid for Weaver’s travel expenses and helped prepare her for the initial interviews with the magazine editors on Oct. 2-3.

“Out of all of them, they chose me; I feel privileged,” Weaver said before departing on that trip. “Somebody wants to hear my story. That’s wonderful. I think I am a success story.”

The Nov. 12 Family Circle session, for which the magazine paid all travel and lodging expenses incurred by Weaver and her husband, included a makeover by a group of hair and clothing stylists, a manicurist and a makeup artist. The makeover professionals also provided tips that will enable Weaver to repeat the results achieved that day.

Those results will be exhibited in a photo spread in the magazine, which will be accompanied by text describing Weaver’s progress in the Work Your Image program.

“It was a life-changing experience,” Weaver said of the session. “I’m more assertive.”

Hadley concurred, saying Weaver’s poise and confidence have improved at every step in the process.

“I see a whole new level of confidence in Willie Mae,” Hadley said. “I can truly see how it is all coming together. I just see her soaring going toward her goals.”

Weaver hopes to return to college at some point, adding, “It’s just a matter of time.” She had been studying occupational therapy before she married and began traveling the world with her husband, who also works in a prison system after retiring from the Navy.

Her newly acquired strength and self-assurance have been a boon to her family life, too, Weaver says.

“It’s so important to be a strong woman in a family,” she said. “If you are weak, you are no good to your family.”

For more information about Counseling and Career Services and New Choices/New Options at Penn College, visiton the Web or call (570) 327-4502.

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