UVU’s effort to help women succeed

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By Kate Ayer, life writer


“It’s just a lot to take on—school, work, being a parent and trying to have a social life,” Nicolle Rudd, UVU sophomore, said. “I have so many responsibilities; it’s hard to balance them all.”

This story seems all too common here at UVU where there is an underrepresentation of women in the student body. According to the 2012 UVU Fact Book, there are 31,562 students at UVU, of which only 13,950 are female.

“I’ve taken off so many semesters for so many reasons, sometimes it feels like I’ll never graduate,” Rudd said.

And she is not alone. In 2012 1,984 women received their degrees, associate or bachelor, from UVU, while 2,359 men received theirs, according to UVU’s Fact Book. This means that men’s graduation rate at UVU is nearly 16 percent higher than women’s.

“Utah shows by far the largest gap in the nation between male and female college-graduation rates,” according to utah.gov. In Utah, 26 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree compared to 32 percent of men with the same level of education. This shows a 6 percentage-point gap—the largest in the nation.

Also according to utah.gov, the average first-time bride in Utah is 23.5 years old—the youngest in the nation—and the state has one of the highest birth rates in the country, as well as a divorce-rate higher than the national average. This means that young, single parent households are on the rise and almost one-third of female-headed households in Utah are living in poverty. These are all factors that lead to postponing education, which places Utah’s women in a precarious position.

But, according to Rudd, UVU provides assistance whenever possible to ensure the success of its students.

“UVU offers tons [of support] to non-traditional students,” Rudd said. “I’ve never been treated as the minority. The school provides great resources.”

Recognizing the inequality in student retention and graduation rates, the Women’s Success Center, located in LC 303, aims to “provide opportunities for students, on campus, and in their communities,” Tera Prestwich, advisor of the Women of UVU Club, said. “The mission of the Women’s Success Center is ‘to help women enter and graduate from UVU in order to improve their lives and the lives of their families, to increase financial stability, and to positively impact society.’”

The Women’s Success Center offers success coaching, whether academic, financial or personal; scholarships and grants for tuition, books and living costs; and counseling resources like the Myers Briggs test and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs, to assist students in choosing the right career path.

Although the Women’s Success Center aims to help all students, it has specific programs and counseling for non-traditional female students, survivors of domestic violence, students with math concerns, as well as outreach programs in the community.

Among these outreach programs are the Clothesline Project, an exhibit featuring survivors’ personal experiences with abuse and domestic violence. They also volunteer at Legacy High School, where the Women’s Success Center provides Christmas to teen mothers and assists them in applying and registering for college upon their graduations. And the center also promotes UVLINK workshops conducted by Prestwich, who offers tips on how to be a successful student, understand the cost of attendance and maximize financial aid.

Even with these established programs, The Women’s Success Center is willing to cater assistance to each individual student’s needs.

“Bottom line,” Prestwich said, “we help students achieve success and help them graduate.”

More information on the Women’s Success Center can be found at uvu.edu/wsc. They can be contacted by phone or email at 801-863-3010 and [email protected].


Photo by Melissa Henrie