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Incredible Moments at the Graduation Reception & Business Showcase

10 Jul


Entrepreneur Graduates, Class 2013

Entrepreneurs Graduation Reception & Business Showcase Special Moments…

Thank you so much for your support over the past months to help Empowered Women’s immigrant, refugee and low-income women build businesses, create jobs and gain confidence to pursue their dreams.

With your support we graduated a class of 19 entrepreneurs last week at Montgomery College and experienced the powerful transformation of these courageous women.

Highlights from EWI Entrepreneurs Graduation, June 25, 2013
A film production by Ernesto Rivera

Business Plan Pitch Winners!
$2,000 in cash prizes to support their startups

1546Reneta Bennett Winning the 3rd place in the Business Plan Pitch Contest

1st place: Dicey & Nneka Scroggins – $1,000
2nd place: Reneta Bennett – $500
3rd place: Sarah Folts – $250
Runner up: Floralba Camargo – $125
Second Runner Up: Julie Hyo Park – $125

1536A heartfelt thank you to our amazing Business Pitch Judges.
We couldn’t have done it without you!

Lloyd McCormick, ChildFund International
Kevin Kelly, ECDC-Enterprise Development Group
Earl Furfine, CPA, PMP, CITP
Claire Alexander, Palindrome Advisors
Ryan Ulbrich, Raise DC
Tony Alexis, Yamas Restaurant
Lydia Patrick, Webclearly LLC
Adam Kulikowski, Capital One
Anastasia Kadantseva, Capital One
Bo Chipman, Interface Financial Group
Dr. Jayfus Doswell, Juxtopia
Aminta Perez-Gold, IADB
Maria Luisa Hayem, IADB

tacha coleman parr


Tacha Coleman Parr, Spring 2010 Graduate, was Mistress of Ceremonies


100% created a business plan
100% learned pricing strategies
76% improved their money management skills
82% feel they are better role models within their families and communities
100% expanded their social network and support system
75% are in a better position to send their children to college in the future
71% improved their leadership skills
82% improved their self-confidence & self-esteem
70% feel that the program helped improve their products/services
65% created an online presence for business
100% rated EWI program as excellent

1545Mary Louise Marino, Melissa Saucedo, Siobhan Quinn, Karla Silvestre, Marga Fripp, David Sears, and Toya Powell

“I am amazed at all the women who have taken a step to depend on their talents and faith to start a process of self-fulfillment. EWI offered us so much… It was up to us to take advantage of it. I believe in this program. This was one of the best experiences of my life right now! EWI gave life to an idea, and in so doing, gave life to those who were willing to give life to their ideas. In so doing, let us continue to choose life as we will always be ‘life givers.’ Peace and Prosperity!” -Annette McNeil, ETS Spring Graduate


Our deep appreciation to our burgeoning partner Montgomery College for hosting and generously sponsoring this year’s Graduation Reception and Business Showcase at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center.


1547Sarah Folts, Graduate and Marga Fripp


Capital One Bank
The Community Foundation For The National Capital Region
The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Alexandria Commission for the Arts
The Mason Hirst Foundation
In Focus Foundation
ACT for Alexandria
Dalal & Company
The Washington Forrest Foundation
The Giving Circle of Hope Reston
AmeriCorps Vista
The Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation
Cordes Foundation
The Catalogue for Philanthropy
Westminster Presbyterian Church
The William and Sylvia Cohen Family Fund
and generous supporters like you!

1548Mimi Hassanein, Carolyn Bloom, and Marga Fripp


Capital One
In Focus Foundation
Earl Furfine
Yamas Mediterranean Grill

Special Thanks

Ike Leggett
County Executive, Montgomery County

David Sears
Senior Vice President of Advancement and Community Engagement, Montgomery College

Chuck Short
Special Assistant to Montgomery County Executive

Karla Silvestre
Latino Liaison to County Executive Ike Leggett 
& Manager of the
Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity

Lindsay Camacho
Office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen

1549EWI Amazing Team of Champions who Make the World Go Round…

Check out more photos from the event


Rebecca Jami
Jami Production & Design

Tacha Coleman Parr, EWI Alumni
Graduation Mistress of Ceremonies

Aida Mady, EWI Alumni
Cooking & Beyond

Ernesto A. Rivera
Video & Photography

Jen Cubas, Photographer
Art Institute of Washington


Poetry & Prose from Graduates

3 Jul
Cleopatra with EWI Founder Marga Fripp at the Spring 2013 ETS Graduation

Cleopatra with EWI Founder Marga Fripp at the Spring 2013 ETS Graduation

Poetry & Prose from Graduates

This past June EWI had the privilege of graduating 19 women from our Spring 2013 ETS class. The multitude of talents within this group of women  were too great to not include in the ceremony. The graduation event included contributions by four of the graduates, Cleopatra MagwaroReneta Bennett, Tina, and Annette McNeil .

Cleopatra Magwaro, an international lawyer and writer from Zimabwe  is a member of the Spring 2013 graduating class. She showcased her talent for writing in piece inspired by the graduation’s theme of Metamorphosis. Here are her inspiring words:


Metamorphosis has come at the assemblage of these Seasons that bring us altogether, under one common purpose, towards a collage of new endings and infinite beginnings.  I have finally come to Beyond and arrived at Self.  I thought I had learnt new lessons for this new  age of noise and ignorance, what I found instead, was that everything was as it should be, everything which lay beneath the dust of time and doubt, is exactly as it is meant to be.    


All that was needed was to remove the filth that licks away the Shimmer.  It has been there all along, unchanged by changing time: kleopatra- she who gives shimmering glory to her father’s name.  Brighter than a thousand-daylights, hidden glory, deaf to accolade and reproach alike. 


She is looking directly at me in the mirror, speaking about her dreams, her past, how she wants to become who she Is but needs her community of women to stand besides her, like a covering during a whirlwind.  I see myself in women who have congregated at an appointed time of dearth, like the stars of the heavens, to give light to the darkness; these are the sisters of Charity and Hope who assemble in order to change the world.  They bring about the metamorphosis of the world; from within themselves.  They give birth to rain and the dawning of a new Life.  These women will not to be washed away like the sands of time. 


Like my mother says, learning new paths in life will not kill me, kuzivamasango hakukuraye.  Indeed, the beaten path is no longer sufficient; the things we Carry are far too precious to entrust to what we know will never sustain us.

 the Journey past Meta

the Path towards Meta,

the effervescent Beyond Meta

is so beautiful, it will draw

success and peace.

Meta is the Journey to self-




Meta is a Journey worth taking.

the Shimmer of wisdom needs only a hand

to wipe away the film of doubt that clouds tomorrow.

welcome the Dawn, your season when you allow yourself to succeed.

Journey, Path, Beyond, Self, Shimmer, the Dawn…. Metamorphosis.

 © June 18, 2013 “Metamorphosis” by Cleopatra Magwaro



Reneta reciting her spoken word during the Spring 2013 ETS Graduation

Reneta Bennett, a spoken word artist and the youngest of our ETS graduates this Spring performed her spoken word during the ceremony.  It was written as a response to her experience with EWI and how her and her classmates had been transformed because of the program. With a tone of empowerment, Renetta entitled her poem, Women of Certainty.

Women of Certainty

When you gathered your bags
And walked a mile?
When you bottled your burdens like fruit
In a jar?
You were women who walked behind the sun…
Waiting to soar, waiting to run.
Praying for change
And seeking the truth…
Hoping for a miracle that seemed

God has restored
The strength in women,
Making it possible for us [women] to be winners.

Unpack your crown
Those bags were heavy…
I’m glad you’ve realized they
Shouldn’t be carried.
Let your dreams relieve the weights
On your back
And trust the process,
No looking back!

A recent blessing truly adored
Because EWI has opened their doors.
Supporting visions from seamstress to lyricist
When it was deemed worthless.

Stride with your shoulders straight
And head held high.
A Queen on the rise.

© 2013 “Women of Certainty” by Reneta Bennett


Lastly, the EWI celebration of achievements and transformations included a collaboration between graduates Tina and Annette . Tina, a music lyricist, decided to write a song for the ceremony that would capture the feeling that EWI had given to her. Keeping it in the EWI family, the song was sung by another ETS graduate, Annette McNeil.

Annette singing Tina's 'Ode to EWI' at the 2013 Spring ETS Graduation

Annette singing Tina’s ‘Ode to EWI’ at the 2013 Spring ETS Graduation

Ode to EWI

Sometimes we need a helping hand
and someone to tell us that we can.

When you are down and
seems all hope is gone
what remains is your dream
that dream is restless because it’s not done
that dream is your passion and desire
that burns like a flaming fire,

Then comes EWI
to help your dream be realized
and give you a reason why
you can aim high and touch the sky,

Yes, that’s EWI

EWI will give you knowledge to grow
and support and a spotlight
where you will shine and glow
and let your talents show,

Yes that’s EWI

Sometimes we need a helping hand
and someone to tell us that we can.

Often we feel lost in the midst of this world
and become a disillusioned girl,

EWI help you put the pieces back together
to complete God’s purpose and plan
and inspire you to give yourself a name in this
glorious land
because sometimes we need a helping hand
and someone to tell us that we can.

You are not alone
EWI is a place to belong
EWI keep sharing
EWI keep caring

We all love you EWI
Thank you EWI!

© 2013 “Ode to EWI”


Empowered Women International would like to say a huge Thank You to the graduates who thoughtfully prepared and contributed their work to the graduation program. It was great to see everyone perform and we are proud of our Spring 2013 class. Way to go empowered women!