EmpowHERing women virtually at JJC

By Jacob Fisher

It’s called EmpowHER, and just like the name suggests, this six-week women’s virtual support group is designed to do exactly that — Empower.

In its second run, EmpowHER is focused on building up one another during the stressful time of our current

“My primary goal was that I wanted students to have just another option to gain support. I enjoy working with students in the group setting. I formed EmpowHER group in early spring 2020. We had five members.” Heidi Stukel, Case Management Coordinator of the Student Wellness Program and EmpowHER facilitator at JJC, said.

Stukel decided to give it a go again during this pandemic.

“I figured there are many students who may be looking for a safe place to gain support from not only myself, but to network and collaborate with their peers in the group setting as well,” she said.

EmpowHER was created with the idea of both networking and social help in mind.

“The goal of EmpowHER is to build one another up, to talk about coping with the stressors and challenges life can bring, as well as ways we can cope and empower one another to ‘rise above’ the current and past challenges,” Stukel said. “To network, collaborate, and to build new ideas, while having fun in a low-key, relaxed setting. The long-term goal is for members to continue to network when the group has ended.”

The sessions last for 50 minutes and have gone for six weeks — the average time for a psychotherapy group, according to Stukel.

The sessions are very open as “students have told me they like the option to attend sessions as their schedules allow, as sometimes it is hard for our working students, or student(s) who have other obligations to attend consistently, every week. I have kept the group, ‘open group’ to accommodate all of our students.”

Unfortunately the group has faced some problems with limited attendance of events. The program initially garnered a lot of interest from students, but lately has suffered from a lack of attendance — marked down as due to the business of a student’s life, and the need for some to work more hours and take on more familial responsibilities in lockdown.

These setbacks, however, have not dampened the ambitions of future projects based upon the EmpowHER model.

Stukel mentioned that she has thought about creating a similar group “EmpowerAll” — “A Group for All to Join.”

While EmpowHER was getting off to a slow start, it might just become a mainstay at JJC in the next couple years.

For those interested in joining EmpowHER, advertisements can be found in the Student Wellness newsletter, or you can contact Heidi Stukel at 815-280-2677, or email her at hstukel@jjc.edu.

A similar group being created is the First Generation/International Student Support Group. It begins Monday Nov. 2, 2020. This group will be run by Student Wellness Advocate, Ausra Tauginaite. If interested, please contact her: ataugina@jjc.edu