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New Dates for New Opportunity School

New dates have been set for the summer 2017 session of the New Opportunity School for Women at Bluefield College. Originally scheduled to begin May 14, the summer ’17 session will now begin June 4 and run through graduation on June 24.

Chris Shoemaker

May 10, 2017








Designed for women from Appalachia who haven’t had access to higher education or whose circumstances have left them in poverty or some other financial or personal predicament, the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) provides hope and a new beginning for disadvantaged women from the region. Through the life-changing, three-week residential program on the BC campus, women are challenged to confront their circumstances, overcome their conditions, and pave the way for a new and better life.


“This experience was a game changer for me,” said Danielle Williams of Bluefield, West Virginia, who graduated from the program in 2016. “It allowed me to see situations from a new perspective. I also learned to speak up and to face my fears. My new motto is: ‘If you want it, go get it.’”


Founded by Jane B. Stephenson in 1987 at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, out of an urgent need to help women in Appalachia become better educated and employed, the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) is designed to improve the educational, financial and personal circumstances of low-income, under-educated, middle-aged women in the Appalachian region.


The NOSW expanded to a second site at Lees-McCrae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, in 2005, and is now celebrating its fifth year in the Appalachian region of Virginia and West Virginia through the establishment the third location at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia.


“From the first step I took onto the Bluefield College campus I knew I had come to a loving, caring place,” said Stephenson. “Every person I met was concerned about others and wanted to help people become better educated and have a fulfilling life. Statistically, we knew that West Virginia and certain parts of Virginia had many people that were low income, especially many women. So Bluefield seemed an ideal place for an expansion site for the New Opportunity School for Women.”


Women in the region who have experienced difficult circumstances, but still have an eagerness to learn, improve their lives and become more self-sufficient are encouraged to apply for the summer 2017 session at Bluefield College, which now starts June 4. The New Opportunity School is open to women with a high school diploma or GED (or those working toward a GED). There is no cost to attend, and all books, meals and campus housing are covered by grants and awards. Funds are also available for childcare and transportation, if needed.


The three-week session includes academic study, cultural experiences, personal development, job search training, college preparation, and leadership development. Participants work 50 hours per week on a curriculum that includes a distinctive focus on Appalachian literature, creative writing, personal reflection, the Appalachian culture, and cultural experiences in theater, museums and historical sites.


The NOSW program also includes personal support in the form of career counseling, group reflection, makeovers, dress for success resources, and health screenings – all designed to create a sense of pride and self-worth. In fact, the NOSW care continues even after the residency with coaching, career guidance, workshops, reunions, internships, higher education opportunities, scholarship opportunities, clothing resources, and continued networking with the “sisterhood” of NOSW graduates.


“When I came here (to the NOSW program) I was bound in dark, but now I’m bright, and I can shine,” said Kimberly Casey of Richlands, Virginia, who also graduated last summer. “They gave me the chance to face my dreams, took the fear away, and gave me tools to be who I want to be. Most of all, this place has shown me the true meaning of grace.”


To find out more about the New Opportunity School for Women, even apply online for the summer 2017 session at Bluefield College, visit Interested applicants may also contact Patricia Jacobs, director of BC’s NOSW, by phone at 276-326-4257 or by e-mail for more information or to receive and submit an application by postal mail.




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