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An experience in UT graduate student Amber Giffin’s life has fueled her desire to do something that will help others.

Giffin was the victim of a sexual assault when she was young. That experience prompted her to focus her UT research on Title IX–related issues— specifically, the ways underrepresented populations are affected.

Her goal: improve support for sexual assault survivors and help better educate campus communities about sexual assault prevention.

“If what I am doing helps people to not go through what I have been through, then it is all worth it,” she said.

Giffin will graduate today with her Master of Science in educational psychology.

Giffin has presented her research nationally at conferences on Title IX–related topics. She’s also interned in the Office of Title IX and worked with the Center for Health Education and Wellness, helping staff implement recommendations from her research.

“Amber’s commitment to accuracy and keen curiosity helped us to utilize research that could create real-time improvements for our students’ experience,” said Title IX coordinator Ashley Blamey. “I have no doubt about her future contribution to the field, and it was an absolute honor to work with her.”

This year, Giffin founded UT’s chapter of It’s On Us. The group’s mission is to promote resources for prevention, education, and survivor resources while working with campus offices and other organizations to help end sexual assaults on college campuses. In the spring, the group released a public service announcement encouraging members of the campus community to speak out against sexual assault.

While taking classes, Giffin also worked a full-time job and cared for her father, who was in a hospital in Atlanta for five months before passing away earlier this year.

This spring, Giffin will continue to intern at the Office of Title IX and the Thornton Center on campus. She plans to begin a PhD program in adult education next fall.

After that, she hopes to become a professor and continue to research Title IX–related issues.

Fall commencement celebrations continue with the undergraduate ceremony at 9 a.m. on Friday, in Thompson-Boling Arena. For more information, visit the commencement website.

CONTACT:

Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365, ksaxon@utk.edu)