D.I.V.A.S. at RIT work toward empowering women

Student Spotlight
Olivia Harrison, fourth-year journalism student

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D.I.V.A.S. at RIT from left: Candice Baldwin (program adviser), Melissa St. Preux, Alyssa Alleyne-Atherly, Olivia Harrison, Elexus Buntley, Denisha Brown, Catherine Turner, Christa Harvey, Jordanae Smith and Shantinique Cowans.

Olivia Harrison, a fourth-year journalism student from Syracuse, N.Y., is one of the original members of the RIT chapter of Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success. D.I.V.A.S. at RIT was started in 2011 with two objectives in mind: to foster a support network for multicultural women at RIT, and to increase the retention of female students through mentorship, personal development and academic progress. The group is actively seeking new members and will be hosting an information session on March 1.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: At first I didn't want to come to RIT, but I'm really happy I ended up becoming a Tiger. There are a lot of opportunities here, especially in terms of jobs, co-ops and internships. Being a member of the Multicultural Center for Academic Success and D.I.V.A.S. has always made me feel like I have a family here at RIT.

Q: Why did you choose to major in journalism?
A: I wanted to be Oprah when I was in high school, so I took a journalism class when I was a senior. I found that I loved interviewing people and realized journalism would be the perfect major for me.

Q: What is the D.I.V.A.S. program?
A: D.I.V.A.S. empowers women through self-love and acceptance. Our main goal is to help foster healthy relationships with other women. We recently participated in community service at the Women’s Place shelter downtown and we’re hosting a financial literacy workshop next month.

Q: How was D.I.V.A.S. at RIT started?
A: The group was started by Candice Baldwin, director of MCAS, in 2011. She ran another D.I.V.A.S. program at the school she worked for prior to RIT. Right now, we have nine members and we are actively looking to add more women to the organization.

Q: What made you want to join the organization?
A: I joined as a freshman when D.I.V.A.S. was first started. I was drawn by the program because at the time, I didn’t have a group of girls at RIT that I could really relate to. Sometimes it can be hard to be a minority on this campus, so the bond that I share with these women is very special to me.

Q: What are you most excited for about graduation?
A: I’m excited to take another step in my life. I’m applying to several MBA programs now, so I’ve still got some more school ahead of me. I’m still not sure what I want to do exactly, but I’m hoping an MBA will make me more marketable. It’s my dream to open my own fitness studio someday.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: We’re still looking for new members to join D.I.V.A.S. and if you think you might be interested, I would strongly recommend joining. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of D.I.V.A.S. while I’ve been here at RIT. I think it was a blessing in my life and it helped me to connect with lifelong friends.

Derrick Hunt compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact him at djh9758@rit.edu with suggestions.