WILLIAMSON — The Mingo/Pike American Association of University Women (AAUW) hosted the inaugural Mingo County Strong event on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s Williamson Campus.

This event is similar to the “East Kentucky Strong” event that originated four years ago with a few Pike County teachers and businesswomen, according to Mingo/Pike AAUW President Jada Hunter

Hunter said that by sharing this concept with past president Dee Kapourales, allowing some of the women of AAUW to assist and learn from Pike County for the past few years and with the co-sponsorship of the Mingo County Board of Education, Mingo County Strong became a reality.

“Our junior girls inside the county will now receive additional informative tools and knowledge designed to build confidence, interest, self-esteem and an eagerness to better prepare themselves for success in this global society,” Hunter said.

Every female junior at Tug Valley and Mingo Central high schools attended the event.

The girls arrived at SWVCTC at 8:30 a.m. with all of them wearing matching Mingo County Strong T-shirts. At 9 a.m., they were separated into five groups and attended five workshop sessions on the third floor.

The five workshop sessions included spending strong, standing strong, preparing strong, surfing and trafficking strong and creating strong.

Instructors included representatives from Community Trust Bank, Williamson Health and Wellness Center, Mingo County Victim’s Advocate, SWVCTC, West Virginia State Police and Logan County author Katherine Manley.

At noon, a formal luncheon was set up on the 4th floor and keynote speaker Jessica Lynch spoke to the junior girls. Lynch is a West Virginia native and a former Army soldier. She was taken as a prisoner of war by Iraqi soldiers in 2003 after the convoy she was traveling in was ambushed.

Lynch was presented with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and POW medals for her service and captivity in Iraq during a ceremony at {span}Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in July 2003.

The Mingo/Pike AAUW wanted to thank their sponsors, including SWVCTC, Williamson Health & Wellness Center, Community Trust Bank, Kapourales Properties LLC, Living Waters Church & Day Care, Susan J. Van Zant Attorney at Law, Bank of Mingo, First National Bank, GFWC WV Williamson Woman’s Club, the Mingo County Democrat Women, Nancy Ramey, Kiwanis Club of Williamson, Lorraine Hall, Susan Conn and Vicki Rowe.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.