The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies received a $50,000 contribution from a nonprofit charitable organization to sustain and expand a leadership program for female students.
The INSPIRE Women’s Leadership Program is a three-year program that focuses primarily on women in majority-male fields of study. Many of the program’s students are also the first generation in their family to attend college.
“The idea around this is to look at underrepresented fields for women in terms of them having a successful university experience,” said Mollie Marchione, an associate director for the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.
The Creekmore and Adele Fath Charitable Foundation, which created the grant, is a private nonprofit charitable organization based in Austin.
The grant money will help the program pay its graduate students’ salaries, as well as travel expenses for their upcoming trip to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in College Park, Md., and Washington, D.C. The money will also help with the program’s retreats and receptions, as well as the solicitation of speakers for the students.
“This grant was just a lump sum, so we can start using that money right away,” said Nancy Ewert, a program coordinator for the center.
Despite the recent influx of money, the program still has many expenses to take into consideration.
“It seems like we’ve gotten a lot of money, but we pay three graduate students to facilitate the program,” Ewert said. “We pay their salary and we also send the students to a conference in Washington, D.C.”
Female students can apply for the program during their first year at UT and join during their sophomore year upon acceptance. There are 32 students in the program. Ewert said INSPIRE has small class sizes so the students can receive individual attention from the program’s graduate assistants.
“The whole idea of INSPIRE is to keep it small,” Ewert said.
Marchione said the program’s small class sizes have produced successful graduation rates.
“We’re getting great results in terms of classes coming through and graduating on time and even early,” Marchione said.
Jaclyn Capistran, an exercise science and allied health professions senior in the program, said INSPIRE has helped empower her as a woman.
“I love being in the program because every time we meet I feel inspired to speak up and like I can change the world, no matter my place in this school in regards to being a minority and a woman,” Capistran said. “I truly feel empowered, and that I can make a difference in anything I choose to do.”