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SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) today welcomed 37 young women from Sherrod’s Independent Mentoring Program, Inc., or SIMP, which provides mentorship, academic advising, and empowerment seminars to public school students in Decatur.

“Today was about history, progression, and women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Jarmese Sherrod, a media and journalism professor at Richland Community College, who started the program in 2002. “We want these young women to know they have the power and strength to achieve whatever it is they want for their future as long as they put their minds to it.”

The group from Decatur included students from Alternative Education Programs at Harris School, Futures Unlimited School and Baby TALK Foundation.

“Dr. Sherrod does a tremendous job of helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed. When they visit Springfield, it should be more than a tour of the Capitol and a lesson on the legislative process,” Manar said. “The most important message I can convey to these students is that despite whatever obstacles they face, the halls of power are not inaccessible to them or their future.”

The visit was part of SIMP’s Empowerment Day and included a tour of the Old State Capitol and the current Capitol complex, and a group discussion on the Senate floor in which Manar encouraged the girls to view themselves as future decision-makers.

“Dr. Sherrod has impacted my life a lot. She changed my perspective on how I should treat myself and others,” said Shatavia Jenkins, a recent SIMP Scholar of the Month. “I see myself as a leader now. A lot of people look up to me and I enjoy helping keep girls on track.”

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