After the Big 12 Conference announced its partnership with SI Swimsuit and Maybelline as part of the 2023 Big 12 Homecoming tour, the University of Houston was the first stop on the four-part tour to launch the “Be You Women’s Empowerment” series at the Fertitta Center on Thursday.
With Houston’s entrance into the Big 12, the event kicked off with several women’s sports teams trickling into the arena with high spirits, taking interest in the different booths available at the event. Shasta and Sasha, UH’s official mascots, even made an appearance, strutting across the floor and blowing cheeky kisses at the attendees.
Before the panels began, attendees had time to roam the arena floor where UH Wellness, the Women and Gender Resource Center, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union (TDECU), Maybelline and SI Swimsuit had activations that prioritized mental health, confidence and women empowerment.
UH Wellness offered a variety of temporary tattoos, ranging from flowers to rainbows to butterflies, which represented different qualities like change, hope, new beginnings and progress. The Women and Gender Resource Center and TDECU provided information on their roles at the university and the supportive services they offer. SI Swimsuit and Maybelline Brave Together hosted a connected activation that featured a beauty bar with free makeup touch-ups from professional makeup artists and a professional headshot booth using AI software.
The “Be a Boss” panel started at noon and was moderated by Mix 96.5’s morning host, Sarah Pepper. The panel featured notable Big 12 executives and alumni, including TDECU senior vice president and chief marketing officer Sheiludis Moyett; Houston Dynamo Football Club chief of staff Jasmine James; Houston Rockets vice president of corporate sponsorships Dawn Keen; Shea Groom of the NWSL’s Houston Dash; and Houston First Corporation chief marketing officer Holly Clapham-Rosenow.
The panel highlighted the importance of speaking up for yourself as a woman in the workplace, prioritizing patience when it comes to pursuing your passions and how to prioritize your mental and physical health.
“You have to be patient. You have to work. You have to earn it. The difference with everybody up here is they work, and they earn it,” Big 12 chief impact officer Jenn Hunter said. “It’s a lot harder for women, but there’s so much beauty in the journey and where it’s going to take you. But it does require some patience.”
The “Be Your Best You” panel featured SI Swimsuit models Brooks Nader, Ellie Thumann and Nicole Williams English. The women discussed the importance of taking time for yourself, breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and tuning out aspects of social media that could be damaging to your sense of self-worth.
During the panel, Williams English mentioned her time starring on the hit reality TV show WAGS and how she dealt with the embarrassment that resulted when everything on the screen was not as picture-perfect as it seemed.
“Protecting yourself and not allowing other people’s opinion on you and your life and your relationship [affect you] is so important because it doesn’t matter,” Williams English said. “I know who I am.”
After answering some questions from the audience, the models dispersed into the crowd to mingle with UH students and pose for photos.
“It was so inspiring hearing from all these wonderful women who all are doing amazing now, but with what I heard today, it didn’t start great,” junior psychology major Socorro Limones said. “But it’s achievable, and they made it. Like, it made me aware that even if I’m a woman, I can achieve things. I hope everybody feels empowered and every girl knows that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”
The “Be You Women’s Empowerment” series is clearly doing what it was meant to do: empower women to be the best version of themselves. The next stop along the 2023 Big 12 Homecoming tour is this Thursday at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.