Strive Awards

Closeup view of a row of acrylic Strive awards.

In honor of Women’s History Month 2020, the WRC launched the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's inaugural Strive Awards. The Strive Awards are a celebration of the gender equity work and activism being done by students, faculty, and staff on the Illinois campus.

2024 Strive Awards

The Women’s Resources Center invites you to join us for the 4the Annual Strive Awards!

Join us in celebrating Illinois students, staff, and faculty doing incredible gender equity work on our campus!

  • Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2024
  • Time: 5-6:30 pm
  • Location: University YMCA | Latzer Hall

Light refreshments will be served.


  • Scholar Award: Megan Jacobs Farnworth 
  • Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown Award: Emily Lawson-Bulten 
  • Advocate Award: Meg Cornell 
  • Pat Morey Legacy Award: Hilary Gross 
  • Strive Together Award: Women of Color 



The Advocate Award

This honor is for a faculty member, staff member, or student who consistently “walks the walk” and advocates for gender equity in their everyday lives, even when it’s hard.

Meg Cornell is a PhD candidate in English & Medieval Literature. He was nominated for his outstanding advocacy for gender equity, including diverse and nuanced gender identities, in his scholarly, professional, and personal capacities. He uplifts gender equity both in the texts and histories he teaches and with his students. Meg will always take more time to work with students 1:1, especially those who have had a more difficult time accessing the resources they need, whether that might be an issue of patriarchy, racial disparity, disability access, or LGTBQIA+ bias. 


The Scholar Award

This award is for a faculty member, staff member, or student who advocates for and advances gender equity through their academic and professional endeavors.

Megan Jacobs-Farnworth is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication studying and researching interpersonal communication regarding women and sexual communication. She is describes as an “advocate-scholar” because her scholarship and research are driven by her broader justice goals of empowering women, transgender, and non-binary individuals, particularly in sexual communication. Megan works to give voice to women who are often underrepresented or misunderstood by listening to their viewpoints and publishing their stories to change social norms and create a more equitable reality for women. 



The Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown Coalition Award

This honor is for a student who brings diverse groups of people together across identity lines to advance gender equity.

Emily Lawson-Bulten is a doctoral student in Contextual Engineering in the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering who works tirelessly to advocate for and promote diversity and gender equity on this campus. Emily advocates for students of diverse experiences and backgrounds as president of the Graduate Student Association, organizes workshops for survivors of abuse while serving on the abuse prevention team at HPC, and had co-authored allyship programming and is presenting at the 2024 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity. 


The Pat Morey Legacy Award

This award is for a student who engages in gender equity work that will benefit the University of Illinois campus long after they graduate.

Hilary Gross is a PhD candidate whose research into the field of Early Modern and Restoration Theater works to address transhistorical gaps regarding premodern drag king performances. Hilary has brought awareness to the need for equitable conversations regarding drag performance that pushes beyond the frequently studied boy actors of Shakespeare and has committed to gender equity throughout her career at UIUC and beyond. Not only does Hilary’s scholarly work uplift gender equity, but her dedication to trans, queer, and gender non-conforming performance practice and embodiment has made her a beloved part of the queer community here in Champaign-Urbana. 


The Strive Together Award

This honor will go to a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that has made significant contributions towards gender equity during the current academic year.

Women of Color UIUC is an RSO that acknowledges the cultural gap between the University of Illinois and the Black student population on campus. They are dedicated to educating, uplifting, and uniting their community. They celebrate the authenticity of Black women and nurture self-expression. They commit themselves to serving one another as well as the greater community through organizing events like meals on wheels, professional and personal development, networking, self-defense classes, and a large scale conference for students and alumna of UIUC.

Past Award Recipients

2023 Award Recipients

a picture of Anita Wo, a woman with dark hair pulled back from the faceAnita Wo, The Advocate Award

bio coming soon . . .





A photo of Dr. Sandra Ruiz, a woman with shorter, dark wavy hair in front of a wood paneled wallDr. Sandra Ruiz, The Scholar Award

bio coming soon . . .






A picture of Puja Roy, a woman with shoulder length dark hair in front of a wood paneled wallPuja Roy, The Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown Coalition Award

Puja Roy was the first DEI Chair and International Student Liaison of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences Student Organization. 
She spearheaded multiple new initiatives to promote values of DEI, collaboration and camaraderie within the department, such as launching a buddy program where students from different backgrounds will be paired as buddies and encouraged to know more about each other’s cultures; installing a world map showcasing everyone’s hometowns in order to make everyone feel seen and welcomed, organizing social activities like multicultural potluck, and designing the first edition of annual international students’ feedback survey to voice their concerns anonymously. 
She also serves as a peer mentor, training the next generation of students, especially female students from underrepresented communities and serves as a board member on the American Meteorological Society Board on Representation, Accessibility, Inclusion and Diversity.

A woman with medium length, curly medium brown hair and red lipstick standing in front of a wood paneled wallTalia Chia, The Pat Morey Legacy Award

Talia Chia is currently a PhD student in the clinical/community psychology program and has been an graduate clinician at DRES since fall of 2021. Talia provides individual and group therapy to DRES-registered students. Throughout her time at DRES, she has demonstrated a passion for serving students who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Last semester, Talia planned and developed the very first LGBTQIA group at DRES called iBelong. She ran this group throughout the fall semester and received a positive response from students who were provided a space to share and support one another in their experiences as students who identify as LGBTQIA. This group also provided a unique space for these students to explore and process the intersectionality between their gender identity/sexual orientation and disability status. By creating this group specifically for students who also have a disability, Talia has contributed by leveling the field for these students.

Two women from Girls who Code stand in front of a wood paneled wall.  The woman on the left smiles widely while wearing a bright pink blazer and glasses.  The woman on the right is dressed in all black with glasses on top of her head and long dark hair.Girls Who Code, The Strive Together Award

Girls Who Code at UIUC creates immediate, powerful, and sustainable impact and change in Champaign-Urbana and beyond by enabling marginalized gender minorities to not only see themselves represented in STEM, but be given the opportunities and tools to thrive and succeed themselves. Girls Who Code UIUC is comprised of a group of passionate and dedicated students and staff who come from a wide range of educational and personal backgrounds. Every single one of them believes in the power of our differences. They dedicate themselves to collecting, organizing, and developing curriculum, workshops, and field connections for middle to high school aged women and non-binary students in the local community who are interested in learning about STEM.

2022 Award Recipients

'Photo coming soon' text in circle

Alina Yamin, The Advocate Award

Alina Yamin is a senior at the University at Illinois studying clinical psychology and gender and women’s studies. She serves as a medical advocate for the Champaign Urbana rape crisis center (RACES) and advocates for sexual assault survivors of all genders, races, and ages at Carle hospital in Urbana. Through the university, Alina is a FYCARE facilitator. She additionally serves as a stalking prevention intern at the UIUC Women’s Resources Center.

Alishia Alexander

Alishia Alexander, The Scholar Award

Alishia Alexander is a PhD candidate in the UIUC Department of Sociology. She is also a program assistant and graduate mentor at the Office of Minority Student Affairs TRIO McNair Program. Alishia's research focuses on intersex with a race, class, and gender intersectional framework. For her dissertation, Intersecting Intersex: A Qualitative Analysis of Intersexuality and Race, she is using in-depth interviews with intersex Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) to learn more about their lived experiences in the United States. Alishia. Alishia additionally works to address the mental health impact of gender equity.

Tiffany Harris

Tiffany Harris, The Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown Coalition Award

Tiffany Harris is a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois, studying social and cultural foundations of education. In the words of Dr. Brown, “Tiffany advances gender equity through scholarship, teaching, and service. She is an advocate for women and gender non-conforming individuals, (especially youth) who want to make the world a better place. She is especially talented with building relationships through deep listening and acts of kindness. In many ways, the skills she so freely shares with world are often gendered as feminine and thusly discounted. However, the world needs people like Tiffany who are self-less in their approach to transforming the communities of which they are a part. She is committed to radical reflection and continuous growth.”

Tia O'Malley

Tia O'Malley, The Pat Morey Legacy Award

Tia O’malley is a junior studying political science on the pre-law track at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Tia promotes gender equity as President of the UIUC chapter of the National Organization of Women, which she started. She also is the treasurer of the UIUC Ignite chapter. As a member of Illinois Student government, she serves in the Rape Awareness and Prevention Committee. Her impact on gender equity will be felt past her graduation through these involvements.

Saaniya Kapur

Saaniya Kapur, The Pat Morey Legacy Award

Saaniya Kapur is a senior at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign studying computer engineering. Throughout her time at UIUC, she has worked tirelessly promoting gender equity in women in stem initiatives. She serves as the Corporate Director of the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering RSO. Saaniya's work, especially in creating the corporate sponsorship structure that WECE currently uses, and will be able to use for years to come, exemplifies her long lasting impact on the UIUC community.

Two representatives from Code Red UIUC accepting award

Code Red UIUC, The Strive Together Award

CODE RED is a newly registered student organization at the University of Illinois that focuses on addressing period poverty. The three pillars of its work fall in the categories of equity, education, and empowerment. Their work includes hosting menstrual product drives, fundraising for women’s shelters, and educating on topics such as sexual wellness.

2021 Award Recipients

Melissa Manetsch and Women in Chemical Sciences UIUC, The Strive Together Award

Melissa Manetesch & Womxn in Chemical Sciences. Melissa is one of the co-founders of Womxn in Chemical Sciences, a new RSO, which aims to promote a culture of inclusivity within the undergraduate school of chemical sciences at UIUC. As a newly created organization, the response has been positive and impactful among the community, which now includes up to 30 students attending the monthly meetings. She is currently involved in creating mentorship programs between alumni and students to support women in chemical sciences.

Sudarshana Rao, The Pat Morey Legacy Award

Suda Rao is a senior majoring in Social Work. Suda has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout her four years at Illinois. Some of these leadership positions include, but are not limited to, the President of Students Against Sexual Assault, the VP of Students Against Sexual Assault, a lead role in the Illinois Student Government Sexual Assault Prevention Department, and an Illinois Student Government Senator who has worked with students, staff, and faculty of all backgrounds to facilitate legislation and coalitions that work together to support all survivors.

Amanda Batista, The Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown Coalition Award

Amanda Batista is a senior majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in the Hoeft Technology and Management (T&M) Program. She started her college journey by joining the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and has been heavily involved with this RSO ever since. She is now serving as the Internal Vice President of SWE for the second year in a row. This school year, Amanda co-founded a new affinity group within SWE, called HeforSWE, which aims to increase male allyship in STEM.

Rayven Morrow, The Scholar Award

Rayven Morrow is an activist and student of abolition pursuing doctoral studies in Education Policy here at the University of Illinois. With a focus on Black sex workers, Black girlhood, and deviancy, Rayven combines her scholarship with her activism by doing community-based advocacy such as working intimately with women's shelters, after-school programs for Black girls, and underground networks for other marginalized groups.

Sarah Isaacs, The Advocate Award

Sarah Isaacs is the librarian and project coordinator at the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse located at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science and has worked with children and families in a variety of libraries for 20 years. Since arriving at the EI Clearinghouse in 2012, she has worked hard to expand the resources available and raise awareness of this outstanding state resource.

2020 Award Recipients

Patricia Leon Quecan, Dr. Ruth Brown Coalition Award Winner

Patricia is currently working towards her Master's in Arts Education, and she uses her art practice to bring communities together to address an array of issues, including gender equity. Among her many projects is "Colorful Voices of the World," in which she worked with students at Dr. Williams Elementary School in Urbana to create a mural celebrating Urbana's cultural diversity. She also led the "Sharing Memories: The Mirror" project, in which womxn from the local Latina community came together and created a multmedia photography exhibit, where they shared their experiences with migration, family, motherhood, memory, testimony, and more.

"Patricia is a scholar-artist who is fully committed to work that challenges us to think deeply about women's empowerment She routinely creates programs and workshops in the arts that elicit stories unheard from women too often marginalized in our community."

About Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown

Dr. Brown is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, The Center for African Studies, The Department of Theatre, and most recently, Art + Design. Our award for coalition building is named after her commitment to bringing diverse communities together to tackle society's hardest questions. In 2006, Dr. Brown founded Saving Our Lives Hearing Our Truths (SOLHOT), a collective space to celebrate Black girlhood for the purpose of liberation. To date it remains her most cherished and consistent practice of meeting Black girls face to face and heart to heart. Dr. Brown's research, community engagement, and artistic practice mutually reinforce the other; she is at her best when disciplinary norms are disrupted in favor of creating ideas that swing.

Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, Scholar Award Winner

We are thrilled to present Dr. Ollie Watts Davis with the 2020 Scholar Award. Dr. Davis has been appointed to the Suzanne and William Allen Distinguished Professorship in Music at the University of Illinois and serves as Professor of Voice, Provost's Fellow, and Music Director and Conductor of the Black Chorus. When nominating her for this award, Dr. Davis' students could not say enough about the impact she has made on their college careers:

"I think that Dr. Davis is deserving of this award because of how much she advocates for gender equality all day and every day. As a mother of three girls and grandmother of one, she has a passion for making sure that women have the same opportunities that men have."

[She] never believes that students are limited based on their gender and so her teaching philosophy encourages all genders to want to be excellent and do the next right thing so that the world is a fair and better place with just opportunities for all."

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to Dr. Ollie Davis' contributions and impact as a scholar, mentor, and educator, and we are honored to give this first award to such a deserving person!

Ashley M. Davis, Advocate Award Winner

Ashley Michelle Davis is the Visiting Coordinator for Undergraduate Recruitment and Career Services in the College of Education, and Lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ashley has been a prolific advocate for gender equity in her many roles at the University, where she received both her Bachelor and Master's degrees. One of her colleagues and nominators wrote:

"[Ashley] has done incredible work in the College of Education, striving for more gender diversity representation in teacher recruitment. Working with Ashley has shown me what it means to be consistent, hard-working, and most importantly, how to fight for what is right, and that is why Ashley deserves this award."

We couldn't agree more! Congratulations, Ashley!

Jameelah McCregg, Pat Morey Legacy Award Winner

Jameelah is a graduating Senior in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Throughout her four years at Illinois, she has demonstrated a commitment to gender equity and social justice work through many responsibilities on campus, including roles as a Multicultural Advocate and FYCARE facilitator. When asked why Jameelah should be honored for the legacy she's leaving for future Illinois students, her nominator said:

"Jameelah overwhelmingly demonstrates a sincere and fiery passion for social justice, the skills required to build community, and the desire to make a difference. It would be no exaggeration of the mind to identify Jameelah as a student leader that has set the bar for excellence and the standard to aspire to."

About Pat Morey

Pat Morey has been a leading voice in gender equity work for more than 25 years. The founding Director of the Women's Resources Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, her life has been dedicated to women's and LGBT equity, safety, and education. In addition to serving as faculty, staff, mentor, and campus leader, Pat served as the Director of Rape Crisis Services at A Woman's Fund, Inc. supporting survivors of sexual assault. She has been a fierce advocate and activist in working to end domestic violence and sexual assault all of her adult life.

Amnesty International, Strive Together Award Winner

Amnesty International is the largest grassroots human rights organization in the world, and here at the University of Illinois, our campus chapter has mobilized against a variety of causes including immigrant and refugee rights, gun violence, sexual assault, gender equity and the prison justice system to name a few.

This RSO consistently centers gender equity in their work and strives to address issues that disproportionately affect woman and other marginalized communities.

Most recently, their work has been around raising funds for a variety of community organizations, including Rape Advocacy, Counseling, and Education Services, Islamic Relief USA, and East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center. Congratulations!