Empowering Women at the U

By Kelly Montoya

Empowering Women at the U

By Kelly Montoya
Inspirational women across the University of Miami share their work, their passions, and their drive to empower other women.

To commemorate International Women’s Day, University Communications asked 11 female powerhouses across the U to share what they are working on to break barriers and create a better tomorrow. Their answers reveal an impressive array of interdisciplinary research, projects, and initiatives, and a bit of advice for the future. From researchers and nurses to  students and working moms, these inspirational women are on a mission, and they have a message to share. Today, the University celebrates their stories.   

 

Lisa Beal
Lisa BealProfessor and Associate Dean of Research
Department of Ocean Sciences
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Today I will:

Work with South African scientists to maintain an array of oceanographic instruments across one of the strongest currents in the world ocean, the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current, which pumps more than a million power stations worth of energy towards the poles and into the mid-latitude storm tracks.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

Climate change is a global problem with local impacts. Almost one-third of our world population lives around the Indian Ocean rim, yet Europe and the U.S. concentrate much of their scientific expertise closer to home. I am inspired to contribute where I see the need, despite the challenges.

 What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Take the initiative and be assertive. Be inspired and inspiring. Don’t let the men have all the fun!

 


 

Vassiliki Kourafalou
Vassiliki KourafalouResearch Professor
Department of Ocean Sciences
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science


Today I will:

Support the ability of coastal communities to preserve and explore their ocean resources by developing state-of-the-art computer models to predict physical changes in the ocean environment. These changes are important to understand and predict in advance as they impact ocean and human health and can also drive extreme events, such as storms and hurricanes.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

Combining science with applications that impact the well-being and economic vitality of coastal communities inspires me tremendously and gives me confidence that my work has a higher purpose. I have always lived near the ocean, and I draw strength from the ocean's energy and beauty. I feel fortunate to advance science relevant to understanding and preserving a natural resource that is vital to humanity.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Women at UM should embrace resources and programs dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. They should network and identify gaps and needs to expand such programs to ensure they have the tools needed for career success regardless of gender. Programs should also engage the broader UM community, to eliminate biases toward gender, race or ethnicity.




Jessica Ardente
Jessica ArdenteAdvanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s alex’s place  

Today I will:

Empower children and teens to overcome their disease.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

It is so important for us as health care providers to be an advocate for our patients and their families. We need to instill hope and empower them to persevere and beat their disease.

 What is your advice to empower women at the U?

An amazing quote that I saw not too long ago: “A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for others.”

 


 

Shouraseni Sen Roy
Sen RoyAssociate Professor
Department of Geography and Regional Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

Today I will:
Geovisualize trends of extreme temperatures in India.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

By publishing my research in international peer-reviewed journals, I hope to create awareness about the latest spatial patterns of climate variability and change.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Follow your passion and believe in yourself.

 


 

Imelda Moise
Imelda MoiseAssistant Professor
Department of Geography and Regional Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

Today I will:
Examine the measurable impact of existing substance use ordinances and related trauma risk on young people’s health.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?
This topic motivates me because it highlights the importance of integrating fine-grained geographic data on physical, socioeconomic environments and supportive policies to help local governments and communities design and implement interventions targeting underage drinking to improve youth safety and health equity.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Believe in yourself and empower by example.



 

Joanna R. de Velasco
Johanna de VelascoExecutive Director
Foundation Relations
Central Development and Strategic Initiatives

Today I will:

Not stand idly by when I witness injustice.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

Sometimes, as women, we undervalue our aptitude and performance. We can become the insecure overachiever. Success is hard to measure in a clear and tangible way when we feel that there are just too many buckets to fill, too many expectations to meet. I want us to praise each other’s ideas and contributions, particularly in group settings. Praising each other’s good work is important.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Let’s abandon the fear of failure that can deaden our prospects for growth. Let’s achieve our full potential. Let’s press for the progress of us all.

 


 

Ana Maria Gaviria
Ana GaviriaAdvanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Breast Cancer Treatment & Prevention Program

Today I will:

Heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of women battling the disease.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

I can relate to my patients. I share their victories as well as their dark times. I get my inspiration from the strength, endurance, and resilience that these amazing women have.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Never forget why you are at the U in the first place. Everyone plays an important part of this family. We all can make a difference by serving others.

 


 

Merike Blofield
Merck BlomfieldAssociate Professor
Department of Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences

Today I will:

Be grateful for everything that I have.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

I am in a place in my life where I feel privileged in many ways, including having the career that I do, which allows me to research what I am most passionate about: the conditions under which we get public policies that promote gender and social equity. I am also at a stage in my career where I can dedicate some efforts to promoting such goals at the University.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Don’t get discouraged. The current national climate is needlessly divisive, hateful, and disparaging when our energies would be so much better spent working constructively to improve the public good. It is, however, also a time to reaffirm our basic values and to foster a strong community and civil society that promotes respect for the dignity of others. Join an organization whose goals you believe in.

 


 

Brianna Hernandez
Brianna HernandezStudent, Class of 2018, College of Arts and Sciences
President, Get Out the Vote

Today I will:

Empower change makers through civic engagement.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

I believe that we can all make changes and that starts with feeling empowered enough to participate. I am motivated by the ways we can help each other use our voices to be active citizens.

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Build a support network. Surround yourself with other women who are dreamers and change makers and don’t be afraid to lean on them when needed.
 


 

Millie Chokshi
Millie ChokshiStudent, Class of 2020, College of Arts and Sciences and School of Nursing and Health Studies
Project Coordinator, Freshman Leadership Council 

Today I will:

Inspire the next generation of leaders.

Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you

I am empowered by the enthusiasm and ambition I see in the freshmen I mentor through Student Government. I love giving them advice and guiding them in the right direction. 

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Never underestimate your ability to be a leader and cause change. Through passion and persistence, anything is possible.

 


 

Manvi Seth
Mani SethStudent, Class of 2019, College of Arts and Sciences
Student Leader, Butler Center for Service and Leadership 

Today I will:

Advocate for equality inclusion.

 Why does this inspire/motivate/empower you?

I believe that small actions are making a big difference in the world. It is heartening to see women all over the world empowering others and themselves through their work. 

What is your advice to empower women at the U?

Express yourself through any medium you choose. We are capable of accomplishing everything we want to achieve.