Rachel: Where did the name College Moxie come from?
Lizz: "The name College Moxie derived from hours of conversations with friends about what it is I wanted to do and what words would best convey that in a name. After many coffees and convos with one particular friend, she exclaimed "MOXIE!" We looked it up and the definition was perfect. I will forever be grateful to her for that moment with her brain."
R: When did you start College Moxie, and what was that process like? Did you run into challenges creating the program?
L: "I have advised college women in various capacities for the past 15 years and held my first "Man Panel" event about 10 years ago, so College Moxie has been in the works for a long time. I kept seeing women come into college feeling excited and like they could accomplish anything, and then somehow by sophomore year they had lost their spark and some of their confidence and in many cases, had handed over their self worth to a group of guys on campus who had done nothing to deserve it. This had me curious as to what was happening and when I kept seeing the same pattern over and over, I decided I had to do something. I had a lot of women in one particular region share their struggles with me, so I needed to see if these issues were universal. I held focus groups around the country and asked collegiate women "What are the biggest challenges facing you as a woman on campus today?" and they had a lot to say. Once I was able to pinpoint the through-line challenges, I was able to work backwards to determine how to address them."
"Thankfully I have been met with overwhelming support in creating College Moxie and its programs. Occasionally, we get questions from administrators and directors of organizations about the topics we address, but once they understand the intended learning outcomes and the thought behind our process, they often become some of our biggest fans."
R- How did you get the idea for the ELEVATE program? In other words, how did you decide what themes were important for girls to be discussing on college campuses today?
L- "During the focus group interviews, I heard about recurring issues that collegiate women were facing. I laid them all out and discovered that there were 8 specific issues that proved consistent. These became the weekly topics for ELEVATE. Once I sat down with this list of topics, I realized they were all somehow connected to confidence and self-worth. I tried to put myself back into the position of being a college girl- what did I face, how did I respond, and knowing what I do now, what did I wish I had known and done differently- those were the things I asked myself while developing the ELEVATE curriculum. I believed this: 1- There is power in community and women often struggle to find communities they feel safe being authentic in and 2- the key to learning was going to come from women having a safe space to talk things out and find their own "aha!" moments and discoveries about who they want to be and what they want to achieve, rather than from being told how they "should" be doing things."
R- What experiences have you had that made you feel like there was a need for College Moxie/Elevate? What made you specifically target college campuses?
L- "I have always had a heart for young women- I guess because from a young age, I have known it can be hard to be one. My college experience was really impactful for many reasons: I went to a University far from my home where I knew no-one, just months after my youngest brother had passed away from cancer. I was depressed and grieving without really knowing it- and my parents were grieving too, so I had to figure out how to navigate this new culture quickly and fairly alone at a pivotal point in my life. My coping mechanism was leadership. I became president of my pledge class and later president of my chapter. Most people probably thought I had it all together when in reality I was struggling and confused and all I knew to do was be in community where I could find it. And that community grounded me. A couple of years after college I was asked to come back and be an advisor for my sorority and the decision to say "yes" led to many other opportunities to encourage and empower collegiate women. I quickly realized I had a gift for it. Women would constantly share their struggles with me in a raw, honest way and I felt a tremendous sense of privilege and responsibility for how I responded to that information. Starting College Moxie came from seeing a need for women to have a safe space to talk about hard things because of what they shared with me, and because of what I wish I had during that time in my life. So when I created College Moxie, it wasn't at a time that I was looking to start something, but rather an ethical response to a need that I thought I could meet."
R- What does College Moxie mean to you? How does it give your life meaning?
L- "I have always made a point to find meaning in whatever I spend my time doing but College Moxie is particularly meaningful to me for several reasons. At the end of the day, it comes down to the legacy I want to leave and where I'm given the ability to make the most impact. For one, I married an amazing man later in life and we decided that our footprint could be greater if we did not have children together. This was a huge decision for me, but 100% the right one. God has given me the ability to encourage hundreds and thousands of young women on a daily basis, and I simply wouldn't be able to make that my priority if I had young children who needed me as a mother. I had to consider what I wanted my legacy to be and how I wanted to leave a mark on the world and College Moxie both gives me the ability to make that impact, and fulfills that personal need to know I'm making a difference. Every text, every email, every DM where a young woman is either thanking me for encouraging them or telling me the need their campus has for our programs gives my life meaning and reassures my steps are in the right direction. Because I see College Moxie as a way to fulfill my life's purpose and make the world a better place, it means everything to me."
R- What challenges have you faced running ELEVATE on college campuses?
L- "So, ELEVATE is a student-led small group curriculum that gives women a safe space to talk about hard things, and challenges them to make self-discoveries and positive change in their communities. We recruit student Ambassadors to lead 10-15 of their peers through the 9 week program and provide us feedback, so we can ensure we are focussed on the issues that matter most. Because this is a newer program to most campuses, the challenges generally consist of a lack of understanding as to who we are and what we are doing. Some administrators have had questions about what kind of information we collect from students (we quantify our impact via anonymous surveys) and in some cases it has been hard for our Ambassadors to find a location for their groups to meet, due to College Moxie not being a recognized student organization- but again, most administrators we have had contact with welcome our programs once they understand our process and intended impact. These are all things we are working through and luckily our Ambassadors are some amazing, resourceful women who are determined to encourage and empower their peers and their communities."
R- What do you hope College Moxie achieves?
L- "My hope is that College Moxie will show every collegiate woman that she is worthy of love and respect and give her the the tools to make positive change, both personally and in her campus community. I want to help every woman to know her worth and find strength in authentic community- and discover which choices will lead her toward her goals in hopes of women being physically safer, engaging in less high-risk behavior and carrying less regret into adulthood."