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SLU to Launch New Audre Lorde Scholars Program for Female Students of Color

by Bridjes O'Neil
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Bridjes O'Neil
Communications Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.

Women of color report challenges navigating the intersectionality of race and gender in predominantly white and male environments. The Cross Cultural Center at Saint Louis University will launch a new program for the 2021-2022 academic year that will equip students with the tools to combat these obstacles on campus and in the workplace. 

The Audre Lorde Scholars Program promotes academic excellence and mentorship among students who identify as women of color at SLU.  Submitted  photo.

The Audre Lorde Scholars Program promotes academic excellence and mentorship among students who identify as women of color at SLU. The program is the sibling component of the University’s African American Male Scholars Initiative (AAMS), which aids in the retention and graduation of African American male students. Audre Lorde was an American writer, poet, and civil rights activist who addressed the injustices of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, and homophobia. 

Richard Marks Jr., Ed.D., director of the Cross Cultural Center, hopes students embody these qualities as forward-thinking leaders in their quest to advance their autonomy and women’s rights, and find opportunities to express their Afrocentric identities.

“We want our women of color who participate in this program to have the skills to blast through glass ceilings and spread awareness about why these barriers exist in the first place,” added Luella Loseille, (A&S ’17, Grad ’19) assistant director of diversity and inclusion in the Cross Cultural Center. 

The Cross Cultural Center supports historically underrepresented and marginalized student populations by providing co-curricular and educational experiences that broaden knowledge of multiculturalism and social justice. 

“We’re a consulting and programmatic space focused on fostering diversity, equity and inclusion on campus,” Marks said. 

Loseille and Briana Lawson, learning community academic coordinator in SLU's Department of Housing and Residence Life, has co-led virtual focus groups to gauge student interest in the Audre Lorde Scholars Program since March. They discovered there was a need for the program on campus. Students sought a communal and uplifting space to openly discuss their experiences and opportunities for peer-to-peer and professional mentorship. 

Loseille said a final interest group meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 7, followed by monthly general body meetings beginning in mid-September. The Cross Cultural Center will also leverage community partnerships to host monthly workshops for personal and professional development. Loseille said the center is recruiting SLU faculty and staff who identify as women of color to assist with facilitating the workshops. The center is also recruiting Black male faculty and staff for AAMS for the upcoming year.

Located at SLU’s Center for Global Citizenship, Marks and Loseille are quick to debunk the misconception that the Cross Cultural Center only caters to Black students. Keeping in line with SLU’s Jesuit mission, the Cross Culture Center fosters an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds, cultures, and identities. 

“Our goal is to increase foot traffic,” Marks said. “It’s important for the campus to recognize that we’re here and present.”

Students, faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about the Audre Lorde Scholars Program, SLU’s African American Male Scholars Initiative or the Cross Cultural Center’s other programs and initiatives are encouraged to contact the CCC at 314-977-2119 or email

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 12,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.