Since 2018, more than $350,000 have funded projects to change women’s lives at Miami
By JesúS F. Jiménez, assistant director of digital content
Empowered women empower women.
Since 2018, the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle has awarded more than $350,000 to fund programs, projects, initiatives and/or research led by women at Miami.
The Miami Initiative for Advancing, Mentoring and Investing in Women is a university-wide initiative that works with alumni campus offices and student groups in efforts to encourage and support opportunities for women.
Through the power of collective giving, the Giving Circle allows participants to contribute financially – an amount which, by itself, may not fund a significant project. Through those collective efforts, a pool of money is used to fund vital projects immediately.
The annual Hawk Tank program, which debuted in 2018, invites Miami students, faculty and staff to deliver fast-pitch presentations in hopes of receiving funding.
For some, these programs funded projects that have now become part of their careers. For others, the experience was life-changing in different ways.
Mentoring SLAM Students in Sport Leadership
Madison White ’18, M.A. ’19
Madison White ’18, M.A. ’19 is the communications assistant for the Columbus Blue Jackets. A sports leadership and management major, White was one of six female students who participated in the Women in Sport Leadership and Management alumni mentorship program, funded by the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle, where she was assigned an alumna mentor from the sports industry.
The program allowed White to shadow her mentor and attend networking meetings with sports business professionals. It was through this mentorship that she connected with numerous professors at Miami and alumni in the sports industry.
“I will forever be incredibly grateful to the professors who created the mentorship program and the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN giving circle for their belief, support and funding of the program,” White said.
Miami Regionals 2020 World Café on Student Well-Being
Dr. Dee Kinney
A National College Health Assessment demonstrated that Miami Regionals’ students – especially female students – reported stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances as the top factors negatively impacting their academic performance. Through the M.I.A.M.I. Women’s Giving Circle grant, Professor Dee Kinney sought to use a World Café research methodology on student well-being to see what factors contribute to that anxiety and stress, and how the university can best support them.
Dr. Kinney was preparing to conduct this research when the COVID-19 pandemic put things on hold. Following some adjustments to her research method, she was able to conduct the café conversations over Zoom this past semester.
“The M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN’s Giving Circle was incredibly flexible with allowing major adjustments to my timeline and budgetary shifts due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic,” Dr. Kinney said.
Thanks to this grant and their flexibility, Dr. Kinney was able to provide four Miami students with practical research experience. Tori Adams, a senior applied social research student; Alaezsha Mayo, a senior nursing student; and Emily Mann, a senior kinesiology student and recent graduate, are all regionals students, and Mais Omar was a graduate student in the Master’s of Higher Education Administration. In this process, Emily Mann discovered a passion for research and secured a job immediately after graduation with a local health-related research company.
Finally, as an early tenure-track faculty, Dr. Kinney was able to use the grant funds to carry out this unique research project, which contributed greatly to her professional development as a qualitative researcher. She is also planning on writing two manuscripts for publication to share the results of this study.
Investigating Reflective Spectroscopy of Makeup as a New Forensic Tool to Investigate Violence Against Women, Human Trafficking and Other Related Crimes
Jordan Vest, a senior, led a team that applied mineralogical and geochemical principles in an effort to design a system that can be used in forensic investigation. This tool would be able to aid investigations of missing persons and violence against women, allowing police to collect rapid, non-destructive data at the crime scene or in the lab.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed their work, they continue to collect data.
“This project would not be where it is without the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN grant, and I am incredibly proud of the work that we are able to do,” said Vest, a geology and environmental sciences major.
Her team includes senior Jessica Patrick, juniors Lauren Doepke and Zoey Seibert, Claudia Dawson, a first-year master’s student at Baylor University, faculty mentor Claire McLeod and faculty adviser and mentor Mark Krekeler.
The Importance of Lens Regeneration in Newts
Alyssa Miller ’20
Alyssa Miller ’20 worked under Dr. Katia Del Rio-Tsonis in researching the mechanisms through which the newt is able to regenerate many of its body parts, including its eye. The research is contributing to the field of seeing disorders.
It was through this work that the biology major discovered how passionate she was for science and working with others, which prompted her to pursue a medical school program. She hopes to attend medical school this fall.
“One of the experiences that I treasured most during my time at Miami was my participation in the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle,” Miller said. “I was able to participate in the Hawk Tank in front of dozens of alumnae and talk about the impact that being a female scientist in a female-led laboratory at Miami University has had on me.
“I was lucky enough to be granted funds from the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle, which supported my research for over a year and granted me the opportunity to travel and present my research at a variety of STEM-based conferences.”
Sustainable Engineering for Community Development in Rwanda
Senior Aidan Kuhn served in Engineers Without Borders as its Rwanda water project manager and Rwanda Program manager. With the help of the M.I.A.M.I. WOMEN Giving Circle Fund, Engineers Without Borders implemented a potable water distribution system in rural Rwanda for the communities of Gasharu and Gasovu. This system will serve an estimated 1,500 individuals.
“My time in Rwanda personally has been life-changing as I get to experience a culture so different from my own and learn both technical and soft skills,” Kuhn said. “However, I think the greater impact of the contribution from M.I.A.M.I WOMEN Giving Circle was on the women and children in the communities. Previously, it was the women and children responsible for fetching water from distant sources, a task that could often account for half of their days.”
Kuhn added that, with the new distribution system, they can fetch water in a fraction of the time, empowering the community and providing the opportunity for more children to go to school and women to explore other ventures.