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Endowment Helps INSPIRE Undergraduates Develop Skills in Chosen Fields

Campaign News

INSPIRE students visiting the U.S. Capitol while at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, 2012.

Donations Matched Up to Total of $25,000

UT alumna Dr. Mary Braunagel-Brown is committed to the establishment of an endowment supporting women undergraduates selected for INSPIRE Leadership, a three-year revolving program serving sophomores to seniors that helps women develop the skills they need to achieve the highest levels within their chosen academic fields.

Dr. Braunagel-Brown is matching new gifts dollar-for-dollar for the proposed Mary Braunagel-Brown Excellence Fund, up to a total of $25,000.

By matching the gifts of other donors, Braunagel-Brown wants the INSPIRE fund to grow quickly and support as many students as possible.

Under the direction of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the INSPIRE program has served as UT’s signature leadership program for women undergraduates since 2009.

INSPIRE students celebrating the end of the semester, 2012.

“The INSPIRE Leadership Program is a unique and transformative space at UT,” says Juan Portillo, INSPIRE program facilitator. “While we provide professional development workshops, take the students to conferences, and help the students work on group and personal projects, the biggest impact that I feel this group provides is the space and time to take a step back and reflect on what it means to be a female student, more than likely a first-generation college student, and more often than not in male-dominated careers.”

Of INSPIRE participants, 90 percent are young women of color, most are in underrepresented majors, and many are first-generation college students.

“Freshman year at The University of Texas at Austin, before I was in INSPIRE, felt like a never-ending journey towards something that I didn’t quite have the idea of,” says Bibha Suvedi, an INSPIRE participant. “With so many students and their respective student organizations, it was surprisingly difficult to find a space to fit in. Joining INSPIRE and being able to interact with an amazing group of diverse young women became the highlight of my week.”

Inspiring Confidence Through Service

INSPIRE promotes an understanding of cultural diversity, encourages its participants to become global citizens, and teaches them to address international challenges in partnerships with women from other countries.

INSPIRE Fall Retreat at Zilker Park, 2011.

Suvedi says, “INSPIRE has given me a chance to explore topics outside of my major and work with one of my advisers to develop a senior project dealing with sexual violence. Without INSPIRE, I don’t think I would have the courage, the support, or the drive to develop and go on with this project, which I know will be one of my personal crowning achievements of college.”

INSPIRE provides its participants the opportunity to gain the confidence and knowledge to express their voice in their community and build leadership skills by having them engage in community service and by working with other women in supportive and interdisciplinary environments.

“In an academic environment where what is valued is often grades or other signs of productivity, such as the number of internships you have, the number of awards in your resume or the ability to compete and leave others behind, INSPIRE Leadership has become the space where students can breathe for a moment and reconstitute themselves in order to still be successful but keeping in mind their health, their relationships, and their future,” Portillo says.

The program inspires and supports students in the classroom, on campus, and in community leadership roles. Students develop skills applicable to diverse social settings: critical thinking, public presentation, group motivation, and negotiation.

Your Gift to INSPIRE Will Be Matched Dollar for Dollar

To help more participants in the INSPIRE program and take advantage of Dr. Braunagel-Brown’s dollar-for-dollar match, make your gift online today.

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