Woman - Rite of Passage

“Woman” Alumnae Share the Impact of Their Journey

October 14, 2022

au woman reunion 2022

Coming Home with Gratitude

Dr. Amy Davis Abdallah, Alliance University professor of Bible and theology along with Wanda Velez, Vice President of Student Development/Dean of Students and the Office of Student Development hosted alumnae of the rite of passage program, Woman, back to campus for WomanTalks, a recent special event with a TedTalk format of speakers. Current AU students were a part of the festivities that also included delicious food, delightful conversations, and door prizes.

The alumnae speakers shared testimonies of how their alma mater played a significant role in who they are today. As important as the earned degrees that led to career success were the messages of how Woman, founded by Dr. Davis Abdallah, took them on a journey of discovery, engagement and empowerment.

Dr. Melissa Villodas (’12), who spoke on “Healthy Connections,” is a tenure-track assistant professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Bridgett Blood (’17), pastor of spiritual formation at her church in Lima, OH shared via video on the concept of “Beauty.” Esther Huynh (’15), addressed “Perseverance and Faithfulness of the Lord through the Journey.” She is a second grade teacher at Park Elementary School in Columbia, PA. Leonexy Oyola (’12), the evening’s final speaker on “Becoming Resilient and Owning Your Voice,” is an Assistant Program Director at an alternative high school in the South Bronx.

Forming a Foundation for the Program

“When Wanda Velez, Wanda Walborn, (Alliance University faculty) and I met in the fall of 2010 to plan a rite of passage for spring 2011, I never dreamed that Woman would grow to be a year-long program, produce two journal articles, unveil The Book of Womanhood, and form a strong community of 30 mentors and 150 alumnae,” Dr. Davis Abdallah shares. “Women that I know and respect from varied backgrounds gathered in my attic apartment to brainstorm what a Christian woman is and those words created our intake survey. Ten participants completed the online survey, participated in a personal interview, and chose a mentor.”


A Decade of Discovery

For ten years, female students in their senior year of undergraduate studies registered for the program to explore their relationship with God, self, others and creation using The Book of Womanhood as the main text. The course instruction, complemented by meetings with mentors and cohort activities all contributed to personal and spiritual formation of the participants. Each year concluded with a Crossing Over Ceremony. Dressed beautifully in formal attire, the women presented projects, reflecting their transformative experience, expressed in poetry, song, art, video and dance.

Discovering the worth and value of womanhood is a never-ending journey. The Woman program’s overwhelming success was in encouraging women to confidently grow and use their voices. WomanTalks celebrated that quest.

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