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Cape May County's 'Women of Wonder' Join Forces To Support Cape Educational COMPACT

October 18, 2011

Cape May County’s “Women of Wonder” will gather in a top-secret location high atop the Wildwoods on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to learn more about a cause that Dr. Patricia Gentile hopes will move them as much as it has her.

The “WOW” event, the brainchild of Dr. Gentile, dean of Atlantic Cape Community College’s Cape May County Campus, and Maria Kellett, director of major gifts, will focus attention on the ongoing education needs of at-risk students in Cape Educational COMPACT, the county’s alternative high school.  Part of Atlantic Cape’s “Create Opportunity” Capital & Scholarship Campaign, the pre-Halloween meet and greet will offer a fun evening with a serious message.

“We’re inviting women to come as their favorite female super-heroes,” Dr. Gentile said.  “Cape May County women are extraordinary and do super-human things every day, successfully managing careers while caring for their families and helping others in need.” The serious part of the evening will focus on the education needs of Cape Educational COMPACT students, many of whom face dire family circumstances and poverty issues while trying to gain an education.  Dr. Gentile hopes other members of the newly formed WOW League will join her in creating a Scholarship Fund to support COMPACT students in attending classes at Atlantic Cape to further expand their educational horizons.  A previous program that paid for students to attend the college ended due to budget cutbacks.

The evening’s program will showcase COMPACT students and a talk by one of the program’s graduates, Amanda Parris of Palermo, who attended Atlantic Cape and is now enrolled in Stockton College. Dr. Gentile and COMPACT Principal Tracey Staab also will bestow a special commendation on Myra K. Belasco of West Cape May, case manager at Lower Cape May Regional School District, who works closely with COMPACT students and champions their cause.

In her letter to potential attendees, Dr. Gentile wrote, “Today we have a mission.  There are children in our county who are being told they are already failures because they do not easily meet the expectations of mere mortals.  Many end up at Cape Educational COMPACT—angry, frustrated and scared.  Myra and I know that there is super-hero potential in each and every one of these Compactians.”

The event’s super-hero theme came from Dr. Gentile’s own recent experience and a desire to have fun near Halloween. Faced with a breast cancer diagnosis at Halloween time several years ago, Dr. Gentile adopted the persona of Wonder Woman as her “personality of courage.”  “It was an effective way for me to find the daring to get through a highly uncertain and scary time,” she said.  But she sees the struggles that many of the Cape COMPACT students deal with as equally scary. “Some go hungry, some are in foster homes, some are homeless,” she said. “I’ve been so inspired by students I’ve met and their stories. I’d like to ensure they can find the super-hero inside to realize their dreams of a college education.”

Potential Cape May County “Women of Wonder” interested in attending are invited to contact Dr. Gentile at 609-463-4507 or pgentile@atlantic.edu.  Refreshments will be served and costumes are optional.

“Create Opportunity: The Capital & Scholarship Campaign for Atlantic Cape Community College,” is the college’s first major gifts campaign. The campaign has two initiatives: increase college-based financial assistance by enhancing the scholarship endowment and secure funding to purchase furnishings and scientific equipment for the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics facility to be built on the Mays Landing Campus. To learn more about Atlantic Cape’s Capital & Scholarship Campaign and other investment opportunities, contact Maria Kellett, director of major gifts, at (609) 463-3670 or mkellett@atlantic.edu, or visit www.atlantic.edu/create-opportunity.