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Women on the Way: A Holistic Approach to Servicing College Students


Women’s History Month has been fantastic indeed. I had the opportunity to speak and vend at several events hosted by Saint Petersburg College’s (SPC),  Women on the Way  (WOW). In fact, I want to take a moment to share with you just how awesome their support system is.

Established in 1981 as a “mission and resource center for women”,  in its 37 years of existence WOW has grown mightly. “The effort was spearheaded by Dr. Vilma Zalupski, the college’s first female Provost (Clearwater Campus); Bobbie Hinson, Career Center Director; and Maria Edmonds, a psychology instructor who later became an Associate Provost. Edmonds was WOW’s first coordinator”.

Currently, Shirley Crumbley coordinates WOW.  SPC’s leadership could not have picked a better person to spearhead the program. Mrs. Crumbley is the type of person that student’s need in their corner. She will support you, but also pull you to the side when your’re slipping.  She also understands that  some students  have multiple issues they are dealing with while trying to obtain their education. She does a great job of of maintaining the history of breaking down barriers and creating an atmosphere of trust, support and empowerment.

WOW, SPC, Shirley, Crumbley, Women
Picture: SPC | L to R, Rebecca New and WOW Coordinator, Shirley Crumbley

Under the direction of the college’s  former president,  Dr. Law their services were expanded and are now available at the following campuses, “Cecil B. Keene, Sr. Student Achievement Center in St. Petersburg; the Seminole Campus; the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus; and the Tarpon Springs Campus”. WOW now services over “300 women college-wide”.

Under the leadership of SPC’s  current President, Dr. Tonjua Williams, WOW has managed to serve in excellence the students that come from the communities their offices are nestled inside off. Dr. Williams position as president is historical within itself because she is the first female and African-American to take the helm in the colleges 91 years of existence.  Dope, right! #BlackExcellence

Tonjua, Williams, WOW, SPC, Women
Photo: Pro Suzy | Dr. Tonjua Williams

Okay, now let me  get into these  services, when I tell you they are awesome, it’s because they are.  However, you can’t just waltz into WOW. There is a process for membership. You must first be an SPC student; submit an application for membership-the acceptance period is  July 1st  through August 31st and December 1st through January 31st;  then, complete a learning plan.

Students are able to receive assistance with:

course scheduling and planning

clothing and toiletries – when available

weekly lunch brunches centered around relevant topics

access to the textbook lending library

resources and referral information on tutoring housing, and shelter

membership to their “Positive Directions Assocation (PDA) Club

-WOW Website

What I love about WOW is how  their leadership understands the  importance of “wrap around” services. Too often, student issues outside of school impacts their ability to complete their education and WOW get’s this.   WOW’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. They receive support from several community organizations that recognize the importance of their work. Programs such as WOW are a true community jewel  and should be championed.

To have access to the services that WOW offers, is extremely important during this current climate. Higher education budgets are increasingly under attack. However despite this, SPC remains committed to their students.

Women on the Way 

Saint Petersburg College 



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