By, Maria Thomas, Staff Writer
In addition to her achievements as a rower, junior Amanda Touse is making massive strides for female empowerment on campus.
Touse joined the rowing team last April as a mid-season walk-on and was completely new to the sport. In this short time, she has rowed in every port-side seat in the boat. For the entire Fall season, Touse was the stroke seat of the 2v.
Although Touse has had no prior rowing experience, she has already broken several records while on the team. She currently holds the team record for the 5000m time test on the erg., which she finished with a 2:01.1minutes/500m and ended with a final 5k time of 20:11.8 minutes.
Touse has not only gained experience and skill as a rower, but she has also quickly adjusted to life as a student-athlete. She was recently named a 2021 MAAC All-Academic Team Honoree and achieved one of the three top GPAs this fall semester.
In an email to the Quadrangle, Touse wrote, “Being able to juggle and balance being an athlete, keeping my grades up, furthering my career, and trying to maintain a social life has admittedly been a struggle that I deal with on a daily basis, but I also wouldn’t give any of it up.”
Yet, being a student-athlete is about more than just organization and balance. Coach Katherine Hicks said, “Being a student-athlete also means taking care of your teammates and putting the team’s needs above your own. Amanda has been a fantastic teammate in terms of encouraging other rowers during races and hard practice pieces, and leading by example.”
In addition to Touse’s strong academic performance, she is involved with multiple organizations on campus. Touse is employed by the Center for Academic Success as a Student Success Mentor, and she is an intern at the Lasallian Women and Gender and Resource Center (LWGRC).
It is at the LWGRC that Touse has made a massive impact on campus, as she initiated the Women’s Empowerment Hour at the Kelly Commons fitness center, which takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15 pm to 2:15 pm each week. This hour is not exclusive to individuals who identify as female but is an opportunity for all people to explore fitness in a judgment-free environment.
“Time and time again, I have heard girls say that they want to lift or workout but don’t want to look stupid or get stared at by people,” Touse wrote. “Which was what really sparked my ideas of creating a women’s hour at Manhattan.”
Touse first brought the concept up in the interview for her internship position at the LWGRC. Once she was hired as an intern, the co-directors of the center, Evelyn Scaramella and Rachel Cirelli, helped it come to fruition by getting Touse in contact with Jay Ahmed, director of the fitness center.
Touse also ran multiple surveys to determine interest among the student population and collected a variety of responses, some of which were posted anonymously on the LWGRC Instagram page. Then, multiple versions of posters were created and posted to spread the word.
“I said to her, ‘let’s put what people are saying up [on Instagram],” Cirelli said. “It’s obviously anonymous, but I think it resonated with a lot of people, and it probably even resonated with people that had not been to the Women’s Center before.”
Cirelli discussed how most of the interns have a specific field of interest, which ensures the center provides services and creates programs that are diverse in content.
“Here’s a student who cares about something, and she made it happen, and now the whole community is benefiting from it,” Cirelli said “I really think that is what the whole purpose of the Women’s Center is. It’s a student-led Center. We are literally just stewards of what the students feel is important.”
Although Touse had not yet begun rowing when the Women’s Empowerment Hour became established, there is certainly a connection between her work at the LWGRC and her involvement with rowing.
“Having a great group of girls to wake up and workout with everyday who have your back and always push you to do your best and give your all both on and off the water is such an empowering feeling,” Touse said.
Touse’s leadership is felt by her co-workers, fellow rowers and coaches, as she demonstrates what it means to be a team player.
“It’s just so positive that she’s trying to have an impact — not just on her team, but the larger college community,” women’s rowing head coach, Alexander Canale said. “That sends all the signals that she’ll probably continue to have an impact in whatever community she’s involved in after graduation. She’s a strong leader for sure.”