Background and Origin
Support for womxn of color on campus became a formal part of the work done in the Office of Student Academic Counseling in 2013 with the introduction of the Unique Heels student organization, whose mission was to “empower the culturally unique women of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by cultivating the mindset of self-empowerment through sisterhood; voicing their issues and concerns to appropriate entities on campus in pursuit or a resolution; providing a positive and uplifting space to cultivate relationships with students, faculty, and staff; and better equipping them with the resources and confidence to be successful at UNC and beyond.
Unfortunately, due to changes in staff and student involvement, the Unique Heels initiative was not sustainable. In 2015, interest resurfaced from students involved in the Office’s peer mentoring programs.
Colleagues in Student Affairs in the Department of Housing & Residence Life were having similar conversations with their student staff members who are self-identified womxn of color, and professional staff members from both units met to discuss what could be implemented to address the concerns. The name of the initiative, “Women of Worth,” was created by Community Directors, Angie Matos and Arienne Milkles, also self-identified womxn of color. The initiative was introduced to a small group of undergraduate womxn of color at a pre-finals gathering of self-care on April 21, 2016.
A week later on April 28th, Erica Wallace attended the gathering for the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, a voluntary affiliation of institutions in the United States committed to taking meaningful action to support and advance research addressing the lives of womxn and girls of color, at the request of Dr. Marcus Collins (Associate Dean & Director for the Center for Student Success & Academic Counseling) and Dr. Abigail Panter (Senior Associate Dean for the College of Arts & Sciences).
This proposal was developed to formalize the partnership between academic affairs and student affairs and to ensure that the research produced by the affiliation with the Collaborative produces tangible outcomes for womxn and girls of color at UNC and beyond. The proposed purpose of the Womxn of Worth Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to be a collaborative effort between academic affairs and student affairs dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of womxn and girls of color through research and practice.