Power of Women Luncheon to Empower Professional Women, Female Students

Bakersmith Karla

Karla Bakersmith

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI., Feb. 11, 2015 – The fourth annual Power of Women luncheon and expo will be held Wednesday, March 11, in the Show Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University, in an effort to connect female Southeast students with professional women in the community.

Sponsored in a collaborative effort by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, Southeast’s Department of Athletics and Student Government, the Power of Women luncheon will highlight philanthropists, entrepreneurs and outstanding women of Southeast.

An expo, featuring local businesses, community groups and various campus organizations, will be held from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., followed by a luncheon. Community members and Southeast students are invited to attend.

Karla Bakersmith, a 1981 graduate and founder and chief executive officer of Scrubs & Beyond L.L.C., will serve as the keynote speaker with an inspiring message about her passion for helping other women grow in their businesses. Bakersmith has spent numerous hours as a coach, mentor and strong advocate of young entrepreneurs helping to grow their careers.

Bakersmith started Scrubs & Beyond L.L.C. in 2000 and grew it into a chain of 30 stores, a catalog division, an outside sales division catering to hospitals and a large Internet business. The newly formed company of 153 stores is the largest retailer of medical apparel, shoes and medical accessories in the country. The company is the leader in helping hospitals and other medical entities facilitate dress code changes, and is the leader in fashion medical apparel for medical professionals.

In July 2013, the company acquired Life Uniform and Uniform City and merged as one company. Bakersmith previously worked for Life Uniform as the vice president of merchandising and marketing for 13 years before starting Scrubs & Beyond.

Bakersmith was named the recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women award in 2004. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, The Women’s Forum, the St. Louis Women’s Prosper advisory committee, the Foundation Board for St. Anthony’s Hospital, the Nursing Advisory Board for the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is a past member of the Barco Nightingale Foundation Board and of Vistage International, an organization for chief executive officers. She also is a past member of the advisory board for the St. Louis University School of Entrepreneurs.

“My career was fostered and set in the right direction because my parents and a few key business people took the time to help me grow both professionally and personally,” Bakersmith said. “As a business leader, giving back to others has become a hobby. I find that I am not only teaching others, but what I have learned from them has also helped me to grow.”

During the luncheon, Vicki Boren, president of the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association, will present Power of Women Scholarship awards to Southeast students Mary McKee of Roxana, Illinois, Rachel Buenemann of Washington, Missouri, and Haley Holton of O’Fallon, Illinois.

The renewable scholarship is awarded to full-time students enrolled at Southeast who have completed at least 30 hours with a minimum 2.75 grade point average. First preference is given to female students who demonstrate a passion for a life of service as demonstrated through submission of a personal essay and reference letter from a non-family member.

The Power of Women program for Southeast students began in 2012 and is designed to encourage women — Southeast alumni, business women and community members throughout the region — to support Southeast Missouri State through service and philanthropy. Through this program, the University Foundation hopes to connect female students at Southeast with financial resources to fund their education as well as opportunities to learn through mentorships, internships and service projects in the region. The Power of Women Scholarship was first awarded in the fall of 2013 and endowed last spring.

“Having scholarship funds available for female students at Southeast Missouri State is a true testament to the commitment Southeast has to providing growth and future opportunities in the enhancement of females,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator Cindy Gannon. “The community and campus partnership initiated through this event has created a sense of pride and accomplishment in the enhancement of future female professionals.”

Tickets for the luncheon are $30 per person or $180 for a table of six (table includes sponsoring two students to attend the luncheon). The luncheon is free for Southeast students who may pick up a ticket in the Campus Life &Event Services Office in the University Center Room 414. Proceeds will benefit scholarships for female students at Southeast. Reservations must be made by Wednesday, March 4 by registering online at semo.edu/power-of-women. For more information, including how to reserve a booth in the expo, contact the Southeast Missouri Foundation at (573) 651-2252.