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SPC Names Women’s Center after Maria Edmonds

Maria Edmonds was one of the driving forces behind the college’s Women on the Way program.

TARPON SPRINGS – More than 50 dignitaries, faculty, staff, students, family and friends filled the new Women on the Way Center on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College to share hugs and memories of Maria Edmonds.

Mrs. Edmonds, former associate provost of the Tarpon Springs campus, passed away in January. Mrs. Edmonds was one of the driving forces behind the WOW program at SPC. WOW is designed to help women succeed in college

Dr. Linda Hogans, executive director of retention services, welcomed the crowd to Tuesday’s (June 6) celebration of life.

“A dream, passion and purpose helped move this vision,” Hogans said.

SPC launched its Women on the Way program in 1981 as a resource and support center for women who were entering college in larger numbers than ever before in the history of the U.S. The goal was to provide women – many of them the first in their families to attend college – with the skills and resources to be successful in an academic setting.

Bill Law | Tonjua Williams | Education
Outgoing SPC President Bill Law and incoming SPC President Tonjua Williams

Dr. Bill Law, outgoing SPC President, and Dr. Tonjua Williams, incoming SPC President, shared the podium as they expressed kind words about Edmonds.

“She was always a beacon of bright light,” Law said. “She made WOW a home for the students who need it.”

Williams said that her life was forever changed by Edmonds, and remembered her bright spirit.

“Maria would always enter a room with open arms and a hello,” said Williams.

State Sen. Jack Latvala sent a letter saying, “Ms. Edmonds was an incredible role model for women and a pioneer as a Hispanic and education advocate.”

WOW member Paula Thomas remembered being afraid to start college in a new state.

“My support at SPC has been God, my family and WOW,” Thomas said. “Now, I’m a woman of power, passion and purpose.”

Maria Edmonds | St Petersburg College | Education
Maria Edmonds

Edmonds’ husband, David, shared the Rotary Club’s motto “Serve Above Self” to describe his beloved wife’s commitment to the community, especially to the WOW program, which is now in its 36th year and is available to women at the Clearwater, Seminole, Midtown and Tarpon Springs campuses.

“She always gave 100 percent to everything she did,” said Edmonds. “Her proudest achievement was Women on the Way.”

With overwhelming emotion, Edmonds’ daughter Leza Ries shared a personal letter written by her mother in 1985.

“My only wish,” Edmonds had written, “is that I will be able to leave my grandchildren a legacy of pleasant memories of love and understanding, so, like my own grandmother, I will never die.”

For information about SPC’s WOW program, go to

Photos courtesy of St. Petersburg College.

St Petersburg College | Women on the Way | Maria Edmonds | Education | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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SPC Names Women's Center after Maria Edmonds
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SPC Names Women's Center after Maria Edmonds
Maria Edmonds was one of the driving forces behind the college's Women on the Way program.
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TB Reporter
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