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Center Accepting Applications for Inaugural Women’s Empowerment Scholarship

August 28, 2013 will hold special meaning for those of us at the Center for Research on Violence Against Women.  On that day, the start of Fall semester, the first recipient of the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program (WESP) will begin pursing a degree at the University of Kentucky.  At the Center, we strongly believe that education is empowerment, a specific kind of empowerment that can change the course of a woman’s life. This belief, coupled with a unique position in the University and the community, led the Center to create the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program, which will assist women recovering from domestic violence in accessing higher education as a means of permanently escaping violence and providing for their families.

Research makes clear the multitude of benefits of higher education; at the Center we see how these findings tie directly to the lives of battered women. 

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011) found women over 25 years old with a bachelor’s degree or higher earn 82% more than women with only a high school diploma. 
  • When women earn higher incomes, they have more financial resources available should they have to leave an abusive relationship.  A longitudinal study following 264 women for 3 years after leaving a domestic violence shelter found that women with the least financial resources are the most likely to be re-abused (Bybee & Sullivan, 2005). 
  • In addition to financial stability, studies find that college graduates enjoy increased personal and professional mobility, improved quality of life for themselves and their children, better consumer decision making, more hobbies and leisure activities and, of specific importance to abuse victims, have a more optimistic view of their past and future personal progress (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998; Cohn & Geske, 1992). 

Despite all the benefits of higher education, for women leaving and recovering from abuse we understand that just initiating the process of starting college can be fraught with numerous barriers. The lack of financial resources and personal support and the vast, and potentially volatile, complexities of individual situations can prevent women from fulfilling their full potential.  The Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program was created with all the benefits of higher education, and all the barriers to it, in mind to help ensure a program that would give women the best chance at academic success.  The program brings together the financial and academic resources of the University and the advocacy and support services of the local Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program to address the recipient’s needs both on and off campus. 

The Center’s goal is to establish five scholarships under the umbrella of the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program; the first scholarship in the program was established by the Center’s long-time partner, Verizon Wireless.  The donated funds were made possible by HopeLine® from Verizon, a recycling program that turns used cell phones into support for domestic violence survivors and domestic violence-related organizations. 

The Verizon Wireless Empowerment Scholarship is available for Fall 2013 and applications are now being accepted.  Detailed information can be found on the Center’s Scholarship webpage.  Applicants can apply online at that site or download a PDF and submit the application by mail. 

Scholarship Award Details: 

  • The scholarship can provide up to $4,000 per year dependent on available funds, applicant need and credit hours taken by the applicant.  In addition to the scholarship, the UK Office of Financial Aid will work with applicants to coordinate access to state and federal financial aid for which they may be eligible. 
  • The scholarship recipient will be assigned a UK academic adviser to help ensure academic success and will be provided an advocate from the local Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program to assist with support services, advocacy and related needs. 

Scholarship Eligibility:

  • Have been accepted to UK as a part or full-time undergraduate degree-seeking student;
  • Have been served through one of the member programs of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA);
  • Be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen as defined and permitted under federal law; be a Kentucky resident, eligible for in-state tuition; and
  • Have a minimum grade point average (high school or college) of 3.0 and ACT scores of 22.

Questions about the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program and the Verizon Wireless Empowerment Scholarship can be directed to the Center by calling 859-257-2737 or emailing  Questions specific to UK’s admission/registration process should be directed to Michelle Nordin, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission and Associate Registrar at 859-257-7173.

View the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Information & Application Packet
Deadline to Apply is March 15, 2013

Fostering the Growth of Research, Scholarship, and Public Service to End Violence Against Women