UVU: Women’s Success Center raises more than $477,000 for scholarships
Isaac Hale, UVU Marketing
On March 21, Utah Valley University’s Women’s Success Center, in conjunction with doTERRA, raised $477,172 at their annual scholarship luncheon to assist UVU students. Students like Lexi Jackson.
“I am extremely grateful for the scholarship I have received,” Jackson said. “Without it, I would have struggled to pay for my education. This scholarship not only helps me but also allows me to serve and support other women on campus. I am very lucky to have this opportunity.”
Rachel Lund, senior director of the Women’s Success Center, said she is thankful for the renewed ability to offer a pathway forward for students in need.
“The Women’s Success Center and the Wee Care Center rely heavily on the donations and the generous support of our community,” she said. “The return on community investment is significant.
“Our scholarship recipients retain at 17% higher rates than the institution, because once we get them here as a scholarship student, we also require them to do success coaching, which is a very holistic approach to student success and wellness, and there are academic benefits,” Lund said. “It’s a fantastic framework based on data and research. Having this money helps us reach those students and make sure that they are successful as they work their way through.”
Isaac Hale, UVU Marketing
Since its inception in 2011, the Women’s Success Center has expanded its services.
“There is no really stereotypical person who walks through our door,” Lund said. “It has kind of evolved from a place that was specifically for single mothers, or those who were leaving instances of domestic violence, to a place that is for everybody.
“We have both men and women who use our center, a majority of women, but we have LGBTQ students who come and find a safe place, we have non-traditional students, and we have parent-students who really need a place for their precious children while they’re trying to complete their degrees.”
Lund said the center is prepared to use a data-based framework that can help all types of students.
“We are not just focused on gender studies, which so many women’s success centers or gender inclusion centers are,” she said. “We are also a success center, so we have that framework of success, of student coaching, of the coordinators who build community. We are helping the whole student. It’s not just their academics; it’s also their emotional intelligence.”
The Women’s Success Center is also a catalyst for staff and faculty success. Two years ago, it created an innovative program to help female faculty complete research, leading more of them to become tenured.
“Only 3% of full-time faculty were women,” Lund said. “So we have a lot of adjunct faculty who are women, but not a lot who are progressing to that full-time tenured track — which is a big deal in academics. Part of the gap is based in the imposter syndrome that so many women feel.”
Lund said many are field practitioners and don’t see themselves as researchers.
“Research is a huge part of the tenure process,” she said. “So there is this gap that we are trying to fill, to help them understand that their research is valuable. Research done by, for, or about women is essential and needed in the institution, and frankly, in the nation.”
By closing that gap through inter-faculty mentoring programs, female faculty members are creating research opportunities for undergraduate students to also participate in research.
“You can’t be what you don’t see,” Lund said. “So we are helping our students see what they could someday be.”
The someday — and the hope provided through scholarships and programs — fuels the staff at the Women’s Success Center. While they don’t have the resources to help the thousands of applicants who need help, they see the life-transforming impact of helping those they can.
“When women succeed, families succeed, and when families succeed, communities succeed,” Lund said. “It’s the way to build our society.”
UVU’s efforts to create an inclusive environment and promote women’s success recently led to Utah Valley University’s selection as one of the top 100 organizations in Utah that champion women by Inspire In Utah, an initiative of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.