Women of Excellence

Grant Winners

Accessing XU

1 year - $9,480.54

The goal of this project is to extend the traditional one-hour New Student orientation to two days to provide students using accommodations with a hands-on learning experience on the various software and technology they will be utilizing. The purpose for extending the orientation is to teach students how to access their accommodations, use various technologies for notetaking and reading, and guide them through using CANVAS to access course materials. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to obtain their books from the bookstore and receive assistance with accessing their online books. A secondary goal of this project is to provide a Xavier Occupational Therapy or Education Student with the opportunity to teach technology, study methods, test-taking strategies, and time management techniques to students who have accommodations, and thus better prepare them for their professional practice.

This extended orientation will allow new students to be better prepared for the semester. By providing training and support prior to the start of classes, students will be able to focus on their classes and have less anxiety around accessing their accommodations and starting classes. They will already have follow-up appointments scheduled for the first week with the Office of Accessibility and Disability Resources to address concerns. The student employee will provide ongoing support and assist students with accessing the ODS software to schedule exams, time management, and technology support. Indicators for success will be the number of follow-up appointments scheduled and attendance at study table attendance to receive ongoing support.

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Am I a Good Gertrude?: Critical Conversations about Leadership, Women, and Teachers

1 year - $2,287.26

For this project, we will share a space of community and dialogue, breaking bread and conversing about ideas that intimately and profoundly affect those around the table: female pre-service and practicing teachers. As women in a profession that has been historically feminized, we are creating space where dialogue can be had about the historical marginalization of women, and women’s roles in greater society, in both classrooms and schools, and as future leaders in these spaces. 

As two professors of education, both former teachers, we have studied and experienced the patriarchal nature of the teaching profession. Furthermore, we consistently engage with young women who see gender-based inequalities and want to discuss them. Conversations about the femininity assigned to teachers and the commensurate lack of job autonomy and leadership opportunities are felt deeply by young, women teachers. There are few opportunities for women to engage conversationally, as they are not a part of the formal curriculum, nor represented in dominant literature. We hope to share in a meaning-making process and create an intentional space for young women navigating our profession.  

We have selected three texts to introduce 8 women, all undergraduate or graduate education students at Xavier University, to the sociocultural theory of feminism broadly and as it specifically plays a role in women’s personal and teaching lives. One text explores feminism broadly: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; one text is a women-authored memoir that explores her experiences in broader society: Untamed by Glennon Doyle; and one text specifically explores the feminization of the teaching profession: Those Good Gertrudes: A Social History of Women Teachers in America by Geraldine Clifford.  

Meetings will be held at Xavier University. The conversation will be fostered by the community-building that comes with sharing a meal and a space that supports intimacy and solidarity. We will hold 6 meetings in the Fall of 2022. As participant-researchers, we will engage alongside the participants, and, after meetings have concluded, engage in an interpretive inquiry about the experience, using recordings of the conversations as data. Research results will be shared in scholarly conferences and publications.  

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Camp Xcel:  Around the Sword in 5 Days: Cultural Immersion EXperience

1 year - $10,000.00

Funds are requested to support the Summer Xcel Gifted Enrichment Camp for underserved and high-achieving middle school students in the Greater Cincinnati Area. Due to COVID, high achieving students have lost both academic and social-emotional development. This camp seeks to challenge and provide Tier One level support to area students who may not otherwise have summer enrichment. Through this camp stories of great women in the past will be explored through programming that focuses on Women in Art, Theater, and History. Some of the highlights that will be made possible through this grant are a local female Artist in Residence, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to engage the campers in stage combat and the life of women and their role in theater, and Serpent Mound to explore Ohio history. This camp also serves to support current Xavier Graduate Students who are seeking their Gifted Intervention Specialist Endorsement and provides critical field experience for these candidates who are designing, developing, and implementing the camp curriculum.  

The campers will experience Mid-evil Monday and learn about castles and design blueprints, mid-evil government, and the role of women, and they will build their own catapults. If the grant is secured, campers will experience hands-on stage combat choreography from the Shakespeare Company. Taiwan Tuesday is the next stop in their cultural experience. Campers will build kites and study Asian Kite Festivals and fly them outdoors; they will be cooking a traditional Taiwanese Crepe’ and exploring origami roots, traditions, and creating their own origami project. Wild West Wednesday is the mid-week program and campers create “Wanted Posters” focusing on women who left their mark in the Wild West, including their impact on the developing Westertabln workforce. Serpent Mound will visit if funded and they will learn to navigate using a compass. The next 2 days include World War II with Model UN, Diary of Anne Frank, and wartime past-times for women. The last day involves the classics from Greece and Rome with a study on the Olympics and campers' experience the resident artist who will guide the campers in creating theater masks. 

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Commuter Services: Supporting Commuter Belonging through Peer Mentorship

1 year - $10,000.00

The commuter peer mentor program is an existing initiative led by the Office of Commuter Services to increase on-campus social integration and provide a better sense of belonging for first-year commuter students. Since its inception in 2017, a group of 10-12 upper-class commuter students has volunteered their time to mentor first-year commuters for the first 6 weeks of the fall semester. In the fall of 2021, 10 commuter peer mentors supported 135 first-year commuter students. Through their mentorship, Commuter Peer Mentors (CPMs) provide student perspectives on commuter-related issues. While a strong residential experience is central to the experience of first-years who live on campus, commuter students often struggle to feel acclimated to the Xavier community. CPMs fill this gap by providing a social entry point into the Xavier community, including access to several campus resources. For both peer mentors and mentees, the program offers an excellent way to establish belonging.

However, with currently available resources, the scope of these initiatives remains limited, and retention of commuter students remains a concern. Through the WOX grant, this peer mentorship program can extend beyond the first 6 weeks and establish more consistent programming for CPMs and first years to connect, increase levels of belonging, and retain more commuters. The grant can help meet more needs of the commuter population, and reward CPMs for the time they invest in first-year commuters. Moreover, it will promote commuter leadership and engagement with other commuter resources available on campus.

Some indicators of success for the project will be determined from responses in the first-year survey. This will include increased positive evaluations of belonging, frequency of contact with peer mentors, overall engagement of first-year class in involvement opportunities, presence in the commuter lounge, and retention rates at the end of the academic year. This project will increase available support for commuters, incentivize their stay on campus for longer periods, allow them to voice concerns and provide suggestions for improving the commuter experience, provide targeted leadership development, and increase opportunities for socialization.

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Confidential Peer Support Volunteer Program

1 year - $8,417.44

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college” (Krebs). Gender-based violence (GBV) includes sexual assault, intimate partner and dating violence, stalking, and sexual harassment and research show that the first response a survivor of GBV receives when they disclose is critical to their healing (Campbell; Herman). Negative responses can increase feelings of shame and isolation, prompting more psychological trauma. However, receiving an empathetic response has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including positive life change, self-worth, and growth (Borja; Filipas). The goal of a first responder, then, is to provide a safe place that empowers survivors to seek recovery and resource paths that are right for them. An evidence-based campus model (CCC; “Transforming Ohio Campuses”; “A Safer Campus”; “Preventing and Addressing Campus Sexual Misconduct”) will be used to sustain a Confidential Peer Support Volunteer (PSV) Program that has been generously funded by the Women of Excellence (WOX) Grant since August of 2020. Because survivors are much more likely to disclose to a friend or peer, this program will continue to be made up of Peer Support Volunteers (PSV) expertly and comprehensively trained and supervised to provide survivor-centered, strength-based, culturally-responsive support services for student survivors of GBV. Since the program’s start date, we have tracked student needs, assessed services, and paid attention to successes as well as gaps in service. Using this data, confidential peer support services have transformed in significant ways and will now include peer-facilitated support groups, “How to Support a Friend” workshops, confidential peer support at any events that address GBV, and campus-wide/survivor-centered programming. The value of and indicators of success for this program are a continued increase in the number of survivors who access peer support and advocacy services, feel more empowered, feel safer on campus, and remain enrolled as Xavier students and thrive in this setting.

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Xavier University Library Makerspace Additions for Laser Cutting

1 year - $2,600.00

The Xavier University Library Makerspace is seeking a grant from the Xavier Women of Excellence to expand the laser cutting capabilities. The Makerspace is a thriving, collaborative, and creative space on campus in which students, faculty, and staff work together to create, design, innovate, problem-solve, and build things.

The EpilogLaser Mini Laser system is a heavily used machine in the Makerspace. With this grant, we plan to expand our material and functionality offerings. We will purchase a rim-style rotary attachment and additional lens for more detailed engraving. We will also purchase supplies specifically for the rotatory attachment as well as an expanded selection of wood and acrylic blanks for engraving.

A wide variety of academic departments utilize the Makerspace and with these additional items, we hope to expand our offerings for students and faculty alike. This grant would kickstart an initiative to create a one-stop shop for making needs on campus.

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Smooth Transitions Mentor and Mentee Development

1 year - $10,000.00

Provide development opportunities to build social and institutional capital, self-awareness, and cultural competence for participants in the Smooth Transitions Program. The value lies in the leadership and identity development of underrepresented students in Smooth which aids in the retention and engagement of underrepresented students on campus. Indicators of success- retention and knowledge assessment.

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Summer Service Internship Program

1 year - $5,000.00

Xavier’s Summer Service Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to nurture the commitment to community engagement and social justice in Xavier students. Now in its 26th year, the Summer Service Internship Program has provided more than 500 students with a deepening community and reflection-based experience. In the summer of 2022, the program will place 20 Xavier undergraduates in carefully selected placement organizations where each student will provide service for thirty-five (35) hours per week for nine (9) weeks. The program is designed to teach the interns how to become leaders within the community and to understand the complex problems that marginalized populations face. Gathering for community building, reflection sessions and commons meals strengthen this experience. As a unique, full-time immersion experience for Xavier students, the program provides three important student benefits: students are able to serve the Greater Cincinnati community in a deep and meaningful way, while learning about themselves and the world around them, and also earn the necessary income from summer employment.

Indicators of Success for this project include:

  • More than 75% of 2022 Summer Service interns will express an increased understanding of social justice
  • More than 70% of 2022 Summer Service interns will continue to volunteer with their placement social service organization after the conclusion of this program
  • More than 60% of 2022 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in a year-of-service program after graduation and/or pursue a job in the non-profit sector
  • More than 60% of 2022 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in other service opportunities at Xavier.

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Ten and Counting: a Decennial of Jazz

1 year - $10,000.00

The Queen City is filled with royals of the music scene Bootsy Collins, Fred Hersch, and Phillip Paul, just to name a few. The Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (CCJO) seeks to contribute to the continued preservation of this historical, multi-layered heritage by engaging in efforts to promote jazz in the city. I aspire to combine this prominent Cincinnati organization with legendary, award-winning jazz conductor Maria Schneider in a collaborative performance at Xavier to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the orchestra. Although not from Cincinnati originally, Ms. Schneider has had a profound impact on the music industry as a whole and is well-known for her educational skills. She is an incredible talent, a holder of multiple Grammys, a passionate advocate, and a champion for female representation in music. Not only would the orchestra benefit from her expertise, but the community at large would also have the privilege of experiencing the united talents of both Ms. Schneider and the orchestra. Additionally, it is only fitting that an advocate for the preservation of musical intellectual property be combined with an organization that focuses on the preservation of music history in the area. Moreover, both are having a substantial impact on the jazz industry, an impact that is sure to grow if the two are brought together. 

On a campus level, experiencing Ms. Schneider conduct the CCJO will allow students at Xavier to experience and interact with a successful woman in the jazz industry that has a strong voice for advocacy in intellectual properties. This sort of opportunity has been virtually nonexistent outside of large cities such as New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. Giving Xavier’s students the opportunity to not only attend the concert but to potentially participate in her Music Arranging Clinic and perform under her baton with the orchestra will help them to realize the possibilities available to them as they forge their own paths in the music industry. It will also help them to learn about and celebrate their own local artistic community as the CCJO marks its 10-year milestone in 2023. 

This event will likewise be enriching to audiences across generations, backgrounds, and fields of study, and it will be open to the broader Xavier and Cincinnati communities. 

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The Store – Basic Needs Graduate Assistantship

1 year - $10,000.00

The Store is Xavier's on-campus food pantry implemented in 2017 through SGA funding to improve food insecurity on campus. The Store is sustained through generous donations (monetary and supplies) from the Xavier and local Greater-Cincinnati community. The Store was managed by Care Management Services staff and volunteers through limited availability causing a barrier and inaccessibility to students. Care Management Services secured funding for a Basic Needs Graduate Assistant position for the 2021-2022 academic year. With the hiring of a graduate assistant, accessibility and awareness of The Store have increased significantly. The Store budget is currently utilized to maintain the daily operations of The Store; however, we have placed funds to support a graduate student for the next academic year. Care Management Services seeks funding from the Women of Excellence grant to maintain the continued momentum of initiatives and support the Store's growth under the consistent care of a graduate assistant. With the constant GA presence at The Store, utilization of The Store has increased by 200%.

The Store's success will be shown with quantitative data – the number of people who attend programs, number of non-perishables donated, number of people who will use the food pantry, and number of people who will take the 2022 food insecurity survey. In addition, the success of this project will allow the Xavier food pantry to continue reducing the stigma of food insecurity through increased awareness and accessibility of The Store through community building, representation, and active engagement of the Xavier community.

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Tunnel of Oppression

1 year - $10,000.00

The Tunnel of Oppression is a campus diversity initiative originally developed at Western Illinois University. The initiative stemmed from a homogeneous campus environment searching for a way to represent the realities of oppression in a full sensory experiential manner. The creators of the Tunnel of Oppression wanted to give participants the opportunity to see, touch, hear and feel the realities of oppression as a stepping stone toward creating diversity awareness. The first Tunnel of Oppression was loosely based on the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA. The Tunnel of Oppression is a nationally acclaimed project unique to a few colleges in the United States. Also, the tunnel is volunteer-oriented. Each group of volunteers develops the scripts, designs the sets, and creates the experience best suited to their campus. For this reason, no two tunnels end up the same.

The tunnel intends to open eyes and raise consciousness and is built as a brief introductory experience for those students who have rarely experienced the difference. The rationale is that students cannot fully understand oppression and discrimination until they have experienced it first-hand. Topics that might be addressed include various social justice issues, such as gender identity/expression, sexuality, immigration laws, homelessness, hazing, and various other issues of hate.

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Women of Excellence Endowed Scholarship

1 year - $10,000.00

Women of Excellence (WOX) has been established as a major presence promoting women at Xavier.  A critical component of our commitment to the advancement of women at Xavier is the establishment of a Women of Excellence Scholarship.

Eleven WOX Founding Members joined together and made a commitment to establish a Women of Excellence endowed Scholarship at a base level of $55,000.  This scholarship continues to grow through individual donations as well as this grant process.  The scholarship sits at over $100,000 to date. 

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Developing Systems of Support: Diversifying Study Abroad Participation

2 year - $19,753.00

The CIE (Center for International Education) provides a variety of education abroad opportunities to students, including over 80-semester program options and between 15-18 short-term faculty-led programs each year. Since Fall 2016, Xavier University and the CIE have developed strategies to foster greater study abroad participation among undergraduate students that have increased study abroad participation by 12.9% from AY17 to AY19.

Despite this increase, participation gaps still exist for underrepresented students in study abroad. In order to close this gap, the CIE proposes implementing a study abroad peer ambassador program. The ambassador will be an 8-hour, part-time position for undergraduate students.

Study abroad peer ambassadors will be connected to two of the following areas with a focus on targeted outreach to a particular student population.

Department Target student group

TRIO Student Support Service Program (funded by the U.S. Department of Education)

TRIO students (first generation, low income, students of color and/or students with disabilities)

Veteran and Military Family Center

Military-affiliated students

Student-Athlete Academic Support Services


Student Success Center

Students of Color


Students’ success coaches in the identified areas will direct students to talk to the respective peer ambassador. Ideally, the student hired in the ambassador role will have membership/affinity to the department in which they are hired and will have studied abroad. These peer ambassadors will offer walk-in advising hours; plan events, workshops, and social media campaigns promoting study abroad programs; and promote relevant scholarships.

This program will help increase the diversity and number of Xavier students going abroad. The ability of the ambassador to approach a peer directly about studying abroad eliminates the barrier of sending students to another office. It also allows the students to interact with a peer who is more likely to have a similar experience as them. The two most common sources of study abroad referrals at Xavier are peers and instructors; thus, integrating study abroad ambassadors into existing structures for students will lead to increased knowledge and participation.

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Student Wellbeing Advocacy Group (SWAG)

2 year - $20,000.00

Xavier University continues its innovative partnership with TriHealth to establish a campus culture of wellbeing.  With the generous support of a Women of Excellence grant, Xavier’s Student Wellbeing Advocacy Group (SWAG) has laid a critical foundation in peer-led wellbeing programming that will allow the partnership to meet the exciting and demanding challenges associated with engaging students in these efforts.  Since 2014, SWAG Peer Educators have played a leading role in educating Xavier students about well-being topics such as mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, reproductive & sexual health, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, and sleep.

National research and SWAG program assessment data support the efficacy of peer-led programs in raising awareness and changing behavior around health and wellbeing issues.  Xavier and TriHealth partners have developed an eight-dimension well-being model for our campus community that was unveiled in 2018 and has come to life in the new Health United Building (the HUB).  The SWAG Peer Educator program has been a critical component of the implementation strategy for the wellbeing model.  SWAG is prominently located in the HUB within the Student Wellbeing Services suite off of the building’s spine, which garners higher visibility for SWAG.  The peer educators have an open and welcoming space in which to invite students for one-on-one conversations and conduct wellbeing programs.   Therefore, our goals for the SWAG program for the next two years entail increasing individual student interaction with the peer educators during their office hours, as well as increasing participation in programs offered through tabling, residence life, and other student clubs.

The Women of Excellence Giving Circle has provided a basis for wellbeing programming that has positioned the University well for future growth in our wellbeing initiatives.  Continued support of the SWAG Peer Educator program will position the Women of Excellence Giving Circle in the center of one of the most innovative and impactful initiatives that Xavier University has embarked upon, and we are grateful for your consideration.

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