July 23, 2024

CSU Honors Women’s History Month: Insightful Career Wisdom from Trailblazing Professionals

Since 1995, the United States has recognized every March as Women’s History Month. During this month we celebrate the contributions and achievements that women, both past and present, have made over the course of American history, culture and community. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Columbia Southern University is honored to recognize students, alumnae and faculty who are playing a vital role in leadership within their respective industries.

Adrienne Reece
Adrienne Reece of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the CEO of Witness Thru Fitness, a wellness brand dedicated to showing her love of God through her health choices, and the founder of a juicing company. In her field of health and wellness, Adrienne saw the need of nutrition education for women.

“I was often asked about what I would eat and how I meal prepped, and people always wanted to work out with me,” she said. “Since then, I have become more astute in educating on nutrition through food ingredients and teaching others how to read food labels. In my juicing business, I help busy professionals learn how to eat clean and get in more fruits and veggies.”

An Air Force veteran, Adrienne earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in 2018 and is actively working on her MBA. She hopes to use her degree to learn more about the world of business and to continue helping women feel more confident about themselves through her calling.

“I think as women, it’s easy for us to feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders in every aspect of our lives,” she said. “It’s easy to look to the left and right and compare ourselves with the next person. I would advise other women to remember that just because you’re not where you want to be in one area of your life, there’s someone that’s looking at your success in another area of your life wishing she was where you are.”

Amy Shirley
As the safety loss prevention manager of Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc., Amy Shirley of Gastonia, North Carolina, is responsible for leading the planning, implementation, and integration of Risk Management safety at her place of work. Amy is a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals Tarheel Chapter, The National Society of Leadership and Success and Omega Nu Lambda.

“I think it’s important that all types of people are represented in the safety field,” she said. “I have been in safety for 10 years and in heavy manufacturing. I have definitely been the small percentage in the field.”

Amy is a current CSU student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health and is set to complete her degree in May of 2024.

“The biggest part that keeps my passion going is the people on the floor. When I am talking to a fellow employee about why what they are doing is unsafe and I get the ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ or ‘I’ve been doing this for 30 years,’, I just start explaining to them why it’s unsafe. I give them real situations where someone has gotten hurt doing just what they are doing. When talking to them and I see that they are starting to listen and understand and agree with what I’m saying, it is the best feeling to me.”

When asked what advice she would give to women looking to be in the safety field one day, she says to never give up.

“You can take a break for months or even years, but don’t give up,” she said. “You can want to quit every day, don’t give up. You have to believe in yourself but surround yourself with people who will do that for you on those many days you will not. Celebrate the big wins, but don’t forget the small ones. Keep pushing forward.”

Paula Pack
Paula Pack of Idaho Falls, Idaho, found a passion for criminal justice in high school when she started taking a criminal law elective class. Now as a victim witness coordinator for Fremont County, Paula finds herself in an essential role in a prosecuting attorney’s office as she is the liaison between victims, witnesses and the court.

“We ensure that victims are notified of their rights and allow them the opportunity to provide input throughout the criminal justice process,” she said. “This includes helping them with victim impact statements and keeping them in the loop about plea offers as well as release of the person. Most people don’t truly understand the criminal justice system or court proceedings because they have never been a part of it. Having someone who can delicately explain the process to them is a huge part of feeling seen and heard.”

A first-generation college student, Paula earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration at CSU and went on to complete her master’s degree in criminal justice forensic psychology at Liberty University. She is currently in the process of applying to law school.

“We are seeing a turn where there are more women in law school then men and more women entering law enforcement positions every year,” she said. “I think it is important that people see equal representation. There are many times that female victims or non-binary victims feel more comfortable speaking to a woman. I am grateful I have the opportunity to work in such an incredible field, and lucky enough to say that I have always been treated with dignity and respect by my colleagues.”

Tia McCline
Tia McCline of Northport, Alabama, has worked in the human resource field for 10 years. Currently, she serves as a people operations specialist in the tech industry. She is a part of her local Society for Human Resource Management Chapter and holds a Professional in Human Resources certification. Some of her responsibilities include overseeing payroll, benefits and managing Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging initiatives and employee resource groups.

“I’m not regular HR, I’m cool HR,” she said. “My passion for HR comes from the love I have for genuinely helping people. A lot of people tend to view HR as the bad guys, but we’re there to advocate, coach, train, and develop employees.”

Tia earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees both in human resource management at CSU. Now as leader in the HR tech industry, she understands how vital it is to have women represented in her field.

“It’s important to me because it gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment when you see other women in the same field as you,” she said. “It also serves as a motivational factor as well. I continue to be a role model by remaining positive, uplifting those around me, and trying to lend a helping hand when I can.”

Stephanie Norwood
Stephanie Norwood of Slidell, Louisiana, has given 14 years of emergency medical service to her community working as an EMT, paramedic and volunteer firefighter. Now, Stephanie serves as the quality assurance analyst for the New Orleans EMS/New Orleans Fire Department. She says her passion for EMS started when she was a child who grew up in an EMS family.

“My dad and my sister were both very active in the local fire department where I grew up,” she said. “As I watched my dad teach both fire and EMS, I fell in love with it. I had the first responder bug, and I wanted to make a difference in my community. In EMS, we have a job to do and that is to save lives and give someone a second chance to be with their family.”

Stephanie plans to walk across the stage at CSU’s commencement this fall to receive her diploma for a bachelor’s degree in EMS administration concentrating in EMS education. This milestone not only signifies her academic accomplishments, but also highlights her role as an inspirational guide for those who work alongside her.

“While being a woman in this field is important, we must remember that when we get into the uniform, check our trucks and equipment and start our day, we are one,” she said. “The entire EMS community comes together as one voice and one community. While being a role model to not only women is important, we also need to be a role model for everyone and the future generations in EMS. Never stop fighting for what you want and who you want to become in this field. Make yourself valuable and an asset and you will always be successful.”

To read more stories like these, visit

Disclaimer: These testimonials may not reflect the experience of all CSU students.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes.
CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.