‘Be You Women’s Empowerment Series’ Heads to the University of Central Florida

SI Swimsuit and the Big 12 are partnering to facilitate mental health discussions with college students.

Christen Harper, Ellie Thumann and Sixtine at the University of Cincinnati. 

This fall, SI Swimsuit partnered with the Big 12 to bring the “Be You Women’s Empowerment Series” to four schools across the country. The event, which is part of the 2023 Big 12 Homecoming tour, has made stops in Houston and Cincinnati thus far, where industry professionals, student athletes and SI Swimsuit models have gathered to discuss matters related to mental health.

The interactive experience, presented by Maybelline, features branded activations like a beauty bar and professional headshot station, as well as panel conversations to encourage young women to prioritize their emotional well-being.

The tour kicked off at the University of Houston on Thursday, Sept. 14, where SI Swimsuit rookies Nicole Williams English and Ellie Thumann joined 2023 cover model Brooks Nader for a thoughtful discussion. The women talked about creating time for self-care and the idea of occasionally stepping away from social media for the benefit of your mental health.

Read the full recap from Houston’s event here.

The following week, the SI Swimsuit team headed to the University of Cincinnati for an event takeover at Nippert Stadium’s pavilion on Thursday, Sept. 21.

The interactive experience continued with makeovers at the Maybelline beauty bar and plenty of insightful knowledge shared by student-athlete panelists, university team coaches and SI Swimsuit talent alike. For the second tour stop, Thumann was again on hand, along with fellow rookie Sixtine and reigning co-Rookie of the Year Christen Harper.

After models mingled with students, panel presentations began, where the trio opened up about hard-hitting subjects, like dealing with rejection, their personal struggles with mental health and more.

Read the full recap from Cincinnati’s event here.

Today, the “Be You Women’s Empowerment Series” makes its third stop, this time at the University of Central Florida. Six-time SI Swimsuit model Camille Kostek and Olivia Ponton, a two-time brand star and TikTok influencer, are the featured panelists for this afternoon’s conversation. 

Programming for the free event begins at 10 a.m., and will include giveaways, networking opportunities and two panels with local leaders and SI Swimsuit talent. The “Be You Women’s Empowerment Series” will conclude three weeks from today at Brigham Young University on Thursday, Oct. 19.

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.