In the United States, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In Texas, the statistic rises to one in three. These figures, while staggering, are combated daily by Family Violence Prevention Services in San Antonio. For nearly 40 years, the organization has aided victims of domestic abuse at the Battered Women’s and Children’s Shelter. As affected women regain control of their lives, Trinity University students and professors are helping them in this transition through Life Launch, a program that teaches financial literacy skills, technology knowledge, and professional development.
Life Launch is managed by finance professor Dante Suarez, who has worked hard over the years to ensure that the program is a service that actually benefits the women of the shelter. To reflect the demographics of the shelter, which protects women of all socioeconomic backgrounds, Life Launch has developed a curriculum that is individualized for each participant and mindful of their education history.
“Life Launch is intended to help these women enter the labor force and secure a job quickly,” Suarez says. “Often, the reason women cannot leave an abusive relationship is because they lack financial independence, so this prepares them to get back into labor market.”
Suarez, who researches the integration of international financial markets, also acts as the faculty adviser for the Trinity chapter of Delta Sigma Pi, an international business fraternity. This year, he recruited Delta Sigma Pi members to volunteer with him at the shelter. The organization was able to secure funding from the Student Government Association to pay for Life Launch dinners and coursework.
Abigail Tisdale ’18, the Delta Sigma Pi vice president of community service, says that her club views Life Launch as the perfect opportunity to get involved in San Antonio. Life Launch takes place over four sessions, culminating in a concert on April 26 with the Trinity Women’s Choir. A diploma ceremony before the concert will recognize the ten women currently participating in the Life Launch program. Delta Sigma Pi members will also provide babysitting services so that the women can attend the concert.
“Over these four weeks it has been inspirational to see these women grow and to form one-on-one relationships with them,” Tisdale says. “Even after going through such trying experiences, they are strong and look forward to putting themselves back into the business world.”
Tisdale, a communication and business administration double major from Dallas, is one of ten Delta Sigma Pi members who regularly meets with women from the shelter. A few volunteers from Trinity social fraternities and sororities have also volunteered with Life Launch. Suarez says the program is an invaluable learning tool for students and faculty alike, who learn simply from being around people who have not had the privileges they have and who have endured far worse home lives.
The April 26 concert, titled “Celebration of Women’s Voices,” will take place in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. It will feature musical and dance performances, dramatic dialogues, poetry, and artwork. A voluntary donation at the door will benefit Family Violence Prevention Services and help to end the cycle of violence.
For more information about how to get involved with the Life Launch program, contact Dante Suarez at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 210-999-7860.