Women of Excellence

Women of Excellence 

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The Women of Excellence was created to honor, extend and advance the legacy of Xavier's and Edgecliff's extraordinary women graduates, as well as provide opportunities for women to grow as organizational and philanthropic leaders for the University.

The Giving Circle

Xavier's Women of Excellence formed a giving circle to allow women to collectively support Xavier and encourage the development of women as philanthropic leaders. Giving circle members are alums, parents and friends who recognize that women as donors have the capability of making a tremendous impact on the University, its students, faculty and staff.

Funds from the giving circle are distributed through a grant application process to projects and programs proposed by faculty, staff and student groups of Xavier. The annual distribution of funds to selected campus programs is determined through a voting process by Giving Circle members.

Learn more about The Giving Circle

2021 WOX Grant Winners 

Globally Connected: Building a Sustainable COIL Infrastructure

2 year - $18,696.24

COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning), as defined by the SUNY COIL Center, connects students and faculty in different countries for collaborative projects and discussions as part of the coursework.  The COIL model provides a unique opportunity for all Xavier students to afford cross-cultural interactions through enrollment in a globally-enhanced course. Since receiving recognition from the American Council on Education (ACE) in 2013 on “Advancing Internationalization through COIL,” several Xavier faculty in three colleges have incorporated COIL methodologies into their teaching. Most recently, four Xavier faculty received training in COIL methodology through the UVE-COIL Project, a two-year Department of State funded grant culminating in February 2021, which promoted virtual interaction among students in the U.S., Venezuela, and Ecuador. While the impact of COIL projects has proven beneficial at the course level, there has not been a broad method for sustaining training, promotion, and continuity of COIL courses and virtual exchange throughout the university.

The initial ACE grant collaboration with COIL (2013) included two Xavier faculty and two UARM faculty from Lima, Peru. Since then, with faculty leadership, there have been two cohorts (2015 & 2016), and one Faculty Learning Community (2019) with approximately eight participants each. This project will create a sustainable infrastructure, through which faculty can receive training to support the development of COIL courses and other types of virtual exchange, e.g. global guest speakers. Experienced COIL faculty will work with the Center for International Education to develop web resources, training materials and modules, and an assessment and recognition plan. The Globally Connected project will result in a development of global competence for students, the creation of global partnerships for faculty, improved intercultural competence on campus, and an increased interest in study abroad. In collaboration with the CTE, the CIE and appointed Faculty Champions will offer a three-part series to promote, train, implement, and assess the benefits of incorporating COIL into courses across the university.

Flor de Toloache – What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

1 year - $10,000

Few would argue with the assertion that women are underrepresented in the world of music. The same gap exists in the music of the world.

Flor de Toloache, described as New York City’s “First and Only All-Women Mariachi Group,” is a groundbreaking group in the realm of world music. Made up of Shae Fiol (vihuela and vocals), Mireya Ramos (violin, vocals, and guitarron), Julie Acosta (trumpet), and Yesi Reyes (guitarron), for nearly 13 years, Flor de Toloache has been bringing women to the forefront in mariachi and music as a whole. With members from Mexico to Australia, the Latin Grammy Award-winning group seeks to preserve traditional mariachi while redefining norms within the industry through representation and musical fusion.

Flor de Toloache maintains an impressive resume: they have collaborated with John Legend, done a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, and have been featured in a Kate Spade advertisement. Additionally, they have performed at such venues as the Kennedy Center and on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Having this pioneering quartet of women will bring a diverse form of music to the Xavier community, and will mark the university’s first time playing host to a mariachi group. It will serve as a vivid illustration of the capability of women to break down barriers, and will likewise broaden students’ horizons when it comes to international forms of music. In making this concert free for both Xavier students and faculty, its profound impact will not be limited to the young women of Xavier, but all Xavier personnel, regardless of gender. It will also function as a celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, with a performance scheduled for October 8th.

Furthermore, music education majors and music production majors have expressed their disappointment at not having been exposed to non-Western forms of music, specifically Latin American music, in their curriculums. This experience will serve as a primer in new music genres, inspiring them to explore world music more deeply on their own and thus make them more marketable for music careers in areas of the United State where Latin American music is predominant.

Student Success: Supporting Womxn Leaders of Color at Xavier

1 year - $9,398.00

This grant is designed to serve as commission for the necessary work that womxn of color (defined by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion as cis-gendered women, non-binary womxn, and students of color who may also fall into other underrepresented categorizes such as first-generation college students and/or low socioeconomic status) student leaders are doing for Xavier University. This grant will allow womxn of color with less socioeconomic support to have more opportunities to serve in campus leadership roles.

The leadership work that womxn of color do will also contribute to the community that the Student Success Center serves. Womxn of color hold many positions of leadership on campus that are unpaid. The work that they do has a profound impact on the whole of campus and campus life, since they are the people most connected with students. These connections help retain women of color because they can foster a community within Xavier’s campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. Through this program, we want to help recognize the work that is being done while also allowing these students to have some financial flexibility. Once students have received their financial support, they will lead their campus organizations more effectively while also connecting with the Student Success Center to support their fellow students across campus through programming and brainstorming of retention strategies. This is designed to help support Student Success Retention Efforts aimed at creating a campus environment that fosters leadership, support, and community for womxn of Color.

Student Wellbeing Advocacy Group (SWAG) – Peer Education Program

2 years - $20,000

Wellbeing has never been more important to Xavier’s students than it is today.  Living through a global pandemic has been incredibly challenging and has invited us to develop new strategies for providing wellbeing support resources to the XU community.  Xavier’s partnership with TriHealth and our shared commitment to create a campus culture of wellbeing has positioned us well to respond to the demands of the present moment.  Similarly, the generous support of a Women of Excellence grant has ensured that Xavier’s Student Wellbeing Advocacy Group (SWAG) was able to provide peer-led wellbeing programming that advances the goals of the XU/TriHealth partnership and meets our students’ needs at a critical time.

Since 2014, SWAG Peer Educators have played a leading role in educating Xavier students about wellbeing topics such as sexual health, alcohol and drug abuse, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, and sleep. In the midst of incredible challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the SWAG Peer Educators have played a pivotal role in connecting with Xavier students and offering peer-based support, guidance and wellbeing practices.

National research and SWAG program assessment data support the efficacy of peer-led programs in raising awareness and changing behavior around health and wellbeing issues.  We hope to continue to use this evidence-based approach to wellbeing promotion in innovative and meaningful new ways.  Our goals for the SWAG program for the next two years entail increasing individual student interaction with the peer educators in virtual and safe in-person approaches and continuing to highlight the importance of self-care, balance and help-seeking behaviors – all incredibly important strategies for student success in managing the impact of COVID-19 in their academic and personal experiences.

The Women of Excellence Giving Circle has provided a basis for wellbeing programming that has positioned the University well for future growth in our wellbeing initiatives and provided resources to respond effectively to this crisis.  Continued support of the SWAG Peer Educator program will position the Women of Excellence Giving Circle in the center of one of the most innovative and impactful initiatives that Xavier University has embarked upon, and we are grateful for your consideration.

2021 Summer Service Internship Program

1 year - $1,000

Xavier’s Summer Service Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to nurture the commitment to community engagement and social justice in Xavier students.  Now in its 26th year, the Summer Service Internship Program has provided more than 500 students with a deepening community and reflection-based experience.  In the summer of 2021, the program will place 12 Xavier undergraduates in carefully selected placement agencies where each student will provide service for thirty-five (35) hours per week for nine (9) weeks.  The program is designed to teach the interns how to become leaders within the community and to understand the complex problems that marginalized populations face.  Gathering for community building, reflection sessions and commons meals strengthens this experience.  As a unique, full-time immersion experience for Xavier students, the program provides three important student benefits: students are able to serve the Greater Cincinnati community in a deep and meaningful way, while learning about themselves and the world around them, and also earning necessary income from summer employment.

Indicators of Success for this project include:

  • More than 75% of 2021 Summer Service interns will express an increased understanding of social justice
  • More than 70% of 2021 Summer Service interns will continue to volunteer with their placement social service organization after the conclusion of this program
  • More than 60% of 2021 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in a year-of-service program after graduation and/or pursue a job in the non-profit sector

More than 60% of 2021 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in other service opportunities at Xavier.

Women of Excellence Endowed Scholarship

1 year - $10,000

Women of Excellence (WOX) has been established as a major presence promoting women at Xavier.  A critical component of our commitment to the advancement of women at Xavier is the establishment of a Women of Excellence Scholarship.

Eleven WOX Founding Members joined together and made a commitment to establish a Women of Excellence endowed Scholarship at a base level of $55,000.  This scholarship continues to grow through individual donations as well as this grant process.  The scholarship sits at over $100,000 to date. 

Antonio Johnson Scholarship Runner Up Award

1 year - $10,000

The Antonio Johnson Scholarship has a top award winner and a runner up award. This proposal is submitted on behalf of the Runner Up Award. Both awards are dedicated to the memory of Antonio Johnson, who began his academic career at Xavier in June 1971. While majoring in Urban Studies, he participated in the school band and was an active member of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as president of the Black Student Association, single-handedly organizing activities for Black Awareness Month in February 1976. Unfortunately, he died at age 22 on February 8 of that year. He is remembered as a caring, compassionate, confident, and articulate individual dedicated to social change and justice.


The Women of Excellence mentoring program is a partnership with the University's Career Development Center. We invite you to share your experience and practical real-world advice with our students by becoming a mentor. As a mentor, you become a role model who can make a difference in the lives and career choices of our students. Not only is this a fulfilling and rewarding opportunity for both you and students, but it's also a way for you to stay connected to the University and the Jesuit legacy of being a woman for others.

Become a Mentor

Make a Gift in Support of the Women of Excellence Giving Circle


Contact: Shannon Cassidy-Cox | Executive Director, Women of Excellence | 513-745-4266 | cassidycoxs@xavier.edu