FARMINGTON, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Farmington United Methodist Church on March 30 holds a self-defense class for women at no cost.

It’s put on by a Greenwood woman who took a tragedy and made it into a mission to help empower others. Michelle Tennant is the current Mrs. Sebastian County, and her platform is safety awareness for women through education and self-defense.

She made the decision to teach women how to protect themselves after losing her daughter to an intruder.

Up until 2017, Tennant said she’d never known anyone who had been murdered, but just before her youngest daughter’s twentieth birthday, she learned what it felt like firsthand. She lost her daughter, Kelsey Tennant, after she opened the door of her college apartment in Tulsa to the intruder.

Michelle said her attacker is now serving life in prison.

“It was the middle of the day,” said Michelle. “It was very senseless.”

Michelle said there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t think about Kelsey, who she said was always bright and bubbly.

For years, Michelle said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, from reliving the day she lost her daughter in court multiple times, but after six years of healing, Michelle said she found a way to regain her strength.

“Just a lot of prayer, relying on my faith, and then getting involved in the self-defense classes to overcome those fears and the anxiety that I carried with me,” said Michelle.

Now, she encourages all women to learn how to defend themselves and hopes to make her daughter proud by sharing her story.

Michelle’s self-defense classes are called ‘Worthy to be Called Warrior‘. The Farmington United Methodist Church’s pastor, Annie Lankford, said it’s always looking for ways to encourage women and is eager to bring Michelle’s class to the community.

“We have the opportunity to learn something very important, which is how to protect ourselves, especially during times where we may be taken by surprise,” said Lankford.

Michelle said she tries not to focus on the tragedy as much as on the hope and healing through self-defense and her faith. She’s working towards becoming an instructor, so she can teach more classes in the future.

Michelle will compete for Mrs. Arkansas 2023 in June.

You can find class information here.