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Sunday, Oct 26, 2014
Brandon News

DIVA program strives for academic enrichment


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Unleashing a child’s inner diva through the integration of science, technology, and the language and creative arts is the goal of Divine Individuals with Virtuous Attitudes — or DIVA — an after-school enrichment program targeted to the needs of girls.

DIVA draws students from the Brandon, Riverview and Temple Terrace areas. Its aim is to “increase a girl’s academic and social success inside and outside of the classroom,” said Breanna Adams, who with Xanthe Davis founded DIVA in 2012. “We value the education of the entire person and are committed to tailoring our teaching methods to best suit each student’s unique learning style.”

Instructors discussed their age- appropriate curriculum Aug. 9 at the “Stage Your Back to School Entrance with Confidence” workshop at HCC at The Regent. The parent information session coincided with mini-classes for current and upcoming students, who meet in three age groups: Little Divines (6 to 10), Gems (11 to 13) and Virtuous Teens (14 to 16).

In attendance were Brandon High students Sahari Harvey and Irie Harvey.

“I like DIVA because I get to meet new people in the same age group and I get to experience new things,” said Sahari Harvey, an incoming junior. “It gets me ready for life.”

Irie Harvey, an incoming senior, is a DIVA volunteer. “Girls with DIVA get confidence, determination and consistency,” she said. “They learn they can start a project and keep up with it until it’s done.”

Upcoming after-school DIVA enrichment workshops include DIVA Etiquette, DIVA Dancing, DIVA Modeling, Intro to Acting, Beginning Jazz-Fused Yoga, Photography 101, Cake Design, and Art and Geometry Fusion.

DIVA also offers a Bible camp and Project EVE, which stands for, “Empowering Virtuous Entrepreneurs.” Building upon a spiritual foundation, girls learn entrepreneurial skills as they build budgets and business blueprints and learn how to market their businesses through advertising and networking.

The DIVA fall semester runs from September through December, starting the week after Labor Day. Classes are held at HCC at The Regent, the Panther Trace Community Center in Riverview and the Temple Terrace Family Recreation Complex.

DIVA also holds four full-day Saturday workshops annually — in March, August and September — at HCC at The Regent, a multi-use facility owned by Hillsborough Community College, which uses the lower- level classrooms and computer labs as a satellite location for its Brandon campus and for offerings through the Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education.

At HCC at The Regent on Aug. 9, Siara Exantus said she is excited to begin teaching her fall enrichment classes in DIVA acting and etiquette.

“With social media being so prevalent, people are losing the sense of how to connect with each other on a personal level,” she said. “Those skills are very much needed in the workplace and in social settings that don’t involve technology. Etiquette essentially is the foundation for personal growth and making social connections with others.”

Acting, she added, “Is a great segue into developing confidence because you get to see yourself in a different light.” Playing a role and developing a character, she added, “bridges the gap between self-confidence and being able to interact with other people.”

Yvonne Vasquez has a deep personal interest in teaching her entrepreneurial cake design workshop, Cake Boss, not only because she runs her own Pampered Chef business but also because of her experience as a mother.

“My daughter, when she was 8 years old, said she wanted to be a chef,” Vasquez said. “I took her to the universities and showed her what she would need to do, to see if she really wanted to do this. Today she is 19 and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Institute at the The Art Institute of Tampa.” The school is a branch of Miami International University of Art and Design.

Parent Taneya Goods, who works in event planning and catering, said she happened upon DIVA by chance, filling in for a colleague, Monique Brown, who teaches the cake-decorating class. “This has been an experience for me, to learn what DIVA has to offer,” Goods said. “I’m definitely interested in getting my daughter involved. I really like their approach to empowering the girls.”

DIVA’s aim is “to provide mentorships and a positive role model to all girls,” said Davis, who co-founded DIVA with Adams. “It’s important for them to know that we care and that we look forward to really seeing them grow through our program.”

The DIVA after-school enrichment program runs weekly from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., with prices ranging from $89 (for six sessions) to $119 (for eight sessions). Other pricing is available as well. Not all classes are at all locations. For more information, visit DIVA online at www.divas forsuccess.com or call (813) 333-3144.

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