OKLAHOMA CITY - On Tuesday, dozens of women who have experienced extreme hardships learned skills to help them advance in their careers. Suited for Success hosted its annual workshop at OSU-OKC in honor of Women's History Month.

The organization aims to change the state's statistics. Oklahoma has been named one of the worst states in the country for women, but this workshop gives them the tools they need to overcome their struggles and succeed.

Hearing from a variety of experts over the course of the day, the ladies were eager for advice on conducting themselves in a professional work environment, from the way they speak to the way they dress.

“Whether it’s right or it’s wrong, you have a tenth of a second to make a good first impression,” said Suited for Success Executive Director Susan Walton, “and if you blow that, things are going to be a lot more difficult for you to get a job that you want.”

Oklahoma ranks close to the bottom of the national list in terms of incarceration rates for women, crimes against women including domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as economic and health factors for women. For each of the attendees, life has been far from easy.

Stevie Williams attends Oklahoma City Community College’s transition program to get her certificate to work in the automotive industry.

She said, “I was struggling for the past 12 years, and now I’m sober for two and a half years now and I feel great.”

It took incredible strength for the attendees to pursue their second chance.

“You learn to build yourself up, build your confidence in yourself on your own,” said Amber Barriger, who was once a victim of domestic violence but is now studying at OCCC to become a certified medical office administrator.

She added, “You don’t need anyone’s approval to tell you that you’re good enough.”

Suited for Success partners with the community college transition programs these women are enrolled in to provide free professional attire for them to wear to interviews and on the job once they are hired. The wardrobe is not just a reward, but also an inspiration for them to keep pushing towards a better life.

Williams said, “Going back to school has really built my self-confidence and made me who I am now.”

With new tools to take away, the attendees feel unstoppable.

“It’s just amazing what a determined woman can do,” said Walton.

The event was part of a national effort by the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits and the Smart and Sexy lingerie company, which provided free undergarments to the women who attended.

To connect with Suited for Success, click here.