past recipients


In honor of Womxn’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. 


2022 strive award recipients


White circle with text "Photo Coming Soon"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.



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Photo of Alishia Alexander holding strive statue

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.


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Tiffany Harris holding Strive Award statue

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.” 


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Tia O'Malley holding strive award statue

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. 


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Saaniya Kapur holding Strive statue

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.



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Layla Contreras and Cici Teng hold Strive statue

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 strive 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 strive award recipients