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Connecting and Conquering

EmpowerHER 2021

Like so many events in 2020, EmpowerHER College Signing Day (EmpowerHER) was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. Luckily, the event is scheduled to return in 2021 with some notable additions.

Hosted by The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) and the YWCA Kalamazoo, EmpowerHER celebrates young women who are juniors or seniors in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and plan on completing their education beyond high school. For this year’s event, the theme is all about perseverance.

“For EmpowerHER 2020, our theme was ‘Connect and Conquer’ and we carried that over this year,” Cyekeia Lee shared. “We wanted to do a virtual event to find a way to celebrate these young people. The message ‘Connect and Conquer’ couldn’t be more fitting, especially in today’s world.”

By highlighting women in the workplace, this virtual event will inspire its attendees to overcome the different barriers that life presents. Topics of discussions will include networking strategies, mentorships, STEM disciplines, as well as physical and mental wellness.

“Especially for young women of color, it is important to be aware of professionals that have come from similar backgrounds,” Lee said of the program’s goals. “Seeing and hearing stories of women who have succeeded shows these students that it is possible for them too. It also exposes them to different career fields they might not have considered.

“We want to encourage these individuals to always keep growing and to never stop seeking mentors,” she added. “It doesn’t matter if you are a high schooler, starting a career, or a leader in your field, surrounding yourself with mentors is important and something you should never grow out of.”

EmpowerHER 2021’s keynote speaker will be Hailey M. Mangrum, a Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity. Other speakers for this event include representatives from General Motors and Clinique. Presentations will also be made by alumni of The Promise and representatives from different colleges, universities, and the military.

EmpowerHER Flyer 2021

The event will also feature a special surprise welcome from a celebrity. While no hints will be given regarding this guest’s identity; however, another celebrity has already helped make EmpowerHER 2021 special. Lisa Leslie, WNBA legend, Olympian, and current broadcaster created a video encouraging students to attend the event.

As if all that wasn’t enough, each participant will receive a curated event box filled with swag, books, and a Starbucks gift card. Ten unrestricted, $1,000 scholarships from Michigan Colleges Alliance and five laptops from various sponsors will also be given out during the event.

Lee is hopeful that the experiences provided at this year’s EmpowerHER will help inspire the next generation of women.

“We have so many amazing and bright young women in our city,” she shared. “It will be neat to see the future impact that these individuals make on their different professions, fields, and communities.”

EmpowerHER 2021 is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10 from noon to 2:30 p.m. There are still a few spots available to attend the event. All details and inquiries can be sent to

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