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Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (D.I.V.A.S)

  • Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (D.I.V.A.S)
  • Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (D.I.V.A.S)
  • Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (D.I.V.A.S)

Since the Fall of 2011, The Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (D.I.V.A.S) Program has provided a variety of social, educational, and service activities to a small group of multicultural women at R.I.T. The current members of D.I.V.A.S are Alyssa Alleyne-Atherly, Denisha Brown, Elexus Buntley, Shantinique Cowans, Olivia Harrison, Christa Harvey, Jordanae Smith, Melissa St. Preux, and Catherine Turner.   Specifically, the D.I.V.A.S program was designed to achieve two interconnected objectives: to foster a support network for incoming multicultural women at RIT and to increase the retention of female students through mentorship, personal development, and successful academic progress.  Over the past three years, the D.I.V.A.S program has grown to meet the need of the campus community and members in the program by seeking to increase gender diversity at RIT and by supporting female students majoring in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) through successful academic progress and development.

As a D.I.V.A.S member, students have various opportunities to develop their networking, community engagement, and leadership skills. They are also exposed to a variety of social, personal development, and wellness activities. A minimum commitment of 5 hours per month is expected of all D.I.V.A.S members, but this commitment may vary depending on the project and/or activity. Each DIVA must participate in one community service activity, the monthly D.I.V.A.S meeting, and one wellness/social/cultural activity. 

The primary goals of the D.I.V.A.S program are as follows:

  • To support multicultural women as well as women majoring in STEAM fields through successful academic progress and personal development.
  • To enrich the experiences of multicultural women through diverse mentorship, bonding, service learning , and leadership development opportunities
  • To foster the holistic development and empowerment of multicultural women by building trust, cohesiveness, confidence, self-esteem, and a strong network of support.

Developmental Activities

D.I.V.A.S members are exposed to a variety of wellness, leadership development, personal development, educational, and social activities. These activities are planned based on feedback from current D.I.V.A.S. and evidenced-based needs on campus.   Promoting physical and emotional wellness is important among women. D.I.V.A.S. participate in a wide range of wellness activities ranging from spinning, healthy eating courses, boot camp, and the D.I.V.A.S. Get Fit Challenge.  D.I.V.A.S. participate in mindful meditation exercises, spa days, as well as personalized counseling and coaching sessions.  Personal and professional development seminars included charm & etiquette, financial literacy, women’s health, dating 101, and prominent women’s roundtable included activities include Charm &Etiquette training, Financial Literacy, Women’s Health, Professional Women’s Roundtable, and Dating 101. Leadership development activities included DISC & MBTI assessments as well as participation in event planning, strategic networking, and group facilitation workshops.

Mentor Program

Mentoring is essential for the success of any individual in higher education. The presence of other STEAM women in the D.I.V.A.S. program as well as the mentoring of campus and community mentors is a powerful tool in encouraging female student persistence. The D.I.V.A.S. program is designed to provide opportunities for female students to meet and connect with other women by pairing first-year students with a current D.I.V.A.S. member. Each D.I.V.A.S member mentors first-year female students by serving as a peer advisor, role model, advocate, and confidant. D.I.V.A.S members provide academic support and consistent encouragement by connecting with mentees weekly by phone and monthly in person. D.I.V.A.S members are matched with a campus mentors based on mutual interests and the mentors’ willingness to support, validate, and promote a positive campus environment.  D.I.V.A.S members are also matched with one community mentor in their career field, who are committed to providing career advice and personal guidance. With the assistance of campus and community mentors, D.I.V.A.S members are able to define career goals and plans, overcome personal obstacles, and achieve professional success.

High School Outreach

D.I.V.A.S members believe in the mantra of “lifting as they climb”. D.I.V.A.S members seek to provide support and be positive role models for students and their families who may be considering college.  RIT currently supports the Rochester City Scholars Program, which provides graduates from Rochester City School District (RCSD) high schools full tuition as well as a variety of initiatives offered through K-12 Programs. Almost half of current D.I.V.A.S members are Rochester City Scholars. Members of D.I.V.A.S meet with high school students, serve as student panelists, and work with the D.I.V.A.S advisor to find ways to interact with female high schools students. The D.I.V.A.S Program is currently formalizing a partnership with the Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester. A recent initiative is a workshop entitled  “Understanding Your Digital Footprint” in partnership with AT&T, where the D.I.V.A.S members created a video warning middle and high school students about the dangers of social media.  

Civic Engagement  

D.I.V.A.S. members are not only provided with a unique opportunity to achieve academically, but to also contribute responsibly in a changing world. D.I.V.A.S members participate in a variety of activities to incorporate community service into their collegiate experience. The D.I.V.A.S. have prepared breakfast at local women’s shelters as well as participated in service activities in partnership with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the American Cancer Society. It is the hope of the D.I.V.A.S program, that exposure to these types of experiences will inspire D.I.V.A.S. to a lifetime of active involvement in their community.


Sharitta Gross-Smith
Assistant Director of Programmatic Initiatives & Student Development

Impact and Outreach

Women represent 35% of the student population at R.I.T. Talented multicultural women make a difficult decision to withdraw from RIT because they are unable to acquire an adequate four year financial package, personal problems interfere with their studies, they lack a strong support network of women and mentors, or they are unable to make a successful cultural and social transition to the college environment. The D.I.V.A.S. program addresses many of these challenges by increasing financial support to female students, connecting female students for mutual support and learning, connecting female students with local high schools and community organizations whose focus includes social justice work,   providing campus and community mentors; and improving the early intervention counseling and support programs that help multicultural women overcome these unique challenges that interfere with their persistence. 


  • 100% of members have taken on leadership roles at RIT since becoming involved in the D.I.V.A.S program.
    • 44% of current members serve as resident assistants,
    • 22% serve as president of a club/organization
    • 55% of current members serve on the executive board of a RIT student organization, including an major student organization (MSO)
  • 100% graduation rate of members from R.I.T.