Miami senior starts online community to empower women

By Emma Naille

Julie Rivera, strategic communications and interactive media studies co-major at Miami University, just launched her senior thesis: an online community known as progress. Under the handle, she started the community through Instagram to create a space of empowerment and inspiration for college women on Miami’s campus.

Julie Rivera

“I want it to be a community of women supporting women surrounding them,” Rivera said.

Rivera said she follows a lot of online communities that tell the stories of women who are CEO’s and doctors that are breaking the glass ceiling but saw a need for a community for “women in progress.”

“I think it’s important to highlight women that are in the progress of cultivating that career. For me, it’s women in college,” she said. 

She believes there is a lot to tell on the journey of college. After all, we are all here for four years on a journey to figure out who we want to be and what career path we want to choose.

“I just launched it last week, so I’ve been working on a lot of the background stuff for a month and a half, and it’s ten times more work than I anticipated,” she said.

Rivera said creating the account was harder than she expected with each post taking two to three hours to develop on Illustrator, while also having to schedule, film, and edit the interviews.

For now, the community exists solely on Miami’s campus with Rivera creating and managing all of the content.

“I won’t be in college forever, I’m graduating in May, so I’ve thought about passing it on to someone and letting it continue to grow here at Miami or having representatives at different colleges to expand, to get stories from different people around the nation so that more women are reached,” she said. 

The period on the end of “progress” in the name of the community represents making your mark – no matter where you are in that process – “that’s still making your mark in this society, in this world, [and] in your community.” Rivera said the idea for the name came to her naturally.

“I was just thinking about it, and I was like, “well I know that these stories focus on women and progress, and I know that they’re making their mark within that progress, within their journey, every step matters.”

Instagram doesn’t allow handles to end in periods, so Rivera had to come up with something else. She found inspiration in celebrating victories, and how we congratulate each other to create the handle.

“I was thinking about “cheersing” and congratulating someone on something [like saying] here’s to you, here’s to progress, [and] here’s to your journey and where you are [on] that journey.”

Rivera has enjoyed creating “progress,” because she is able to listen to people’s stories and empower women within her own community.

“I follow all of these accounts that are online communities and [adding] another one doesn’t hurt. You can find one that you can relate more to and find women that inspire you within that and just cultivating a much bigger community than”

Rivera hopes that people will engage in the community by following the account, liking and commenting on posts, subscribing to the YouTube channel when it launches, and nominating friends to be interviewed. She hopes “that it will turn into a community that people love and grow into” and that she will be able to give a voice to women to empower others.

“Women have a lot to say and a lot of time they are shut down and pushed to the side…if you give one woman a voice, three other women will step up because of that one friend. It’s completely a chain, it starts a revolution of women stepping up. That inspires me.”