• On Women and Leadership
  • Success Profile: WCU Students Create Safe Space on Campus with “Trials of the Rib”

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    Walker’s Legacy Profiles recognize unique women of color in business who embody the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire. In this installment, meet students Tari Cox and Amarilis Harper, Founders of the ‘Trials of the Ribs’ Western Carolina University Campus Group.


    College is a place that has many definitions, stories to tell, individual struggles, and financial burdens – all can be affected by the relationships you foster on and off campus.

    Western Carolina University students and classmates Tari Cox and Amarilis Harper recognize the importance of those relationships, and through their friendship, decided to take their fellowship to a larger audience of the student body.

    “I think what makes our relationship different is that we focus on our relationship through Christ, pushing each other closer to god, and holding each other accountable through Christ despite our differences,” said Cox.

    Cox was apart of a women’s group during the summer of 2017 and had great ambitions to start one at WCU.

    “It was one night Amarilis and I were sitting in my apartment talking, and I didn’t know at the time Amarilis shared the same passion as me to start a woman’s group here at Western. Everything came together in an hour or two, including the name, and the mission statement. We called the group Trials of the Rib,” said Cox

    Trials of the Ribs is an open women’s group on campus that aims to help African American women enhance their relationship through Christ.  

    The group meets every Saturday bi-weekly on the campus of WCU.

    The goal is to create a comfortable environment for students to tell their testimonies so that people can find common ground through their individual problems, and this starts with the group’s leaders Cox and Harper.

    “What makes everything so authentic to us, is that Tari and I don’t act like we have everything together”

    “…and it helps create a safer place for us to benefit as well as other women by being completely vulnerable and honest to ourselves,” said Harper.

    The idea behind Trials of the Rib is changing the narrative of how people look at faith because of people not responding to church the same anymore in our generation.

    “Our mission is to sustain faith with all the trials we go through as women,” said Cox

    The notable impacts since the group’s existence, is a better sense of comfortableness, creating a safe place, and a common ground among diverse backgrounds.

    “You never know what someone has been through, and it’s been so impactful for me because I see so much of that within myself it’s like a bi-direction in terms of its effect. It is comforting, but it reassures my reasons for doing this,” said Cox

    Outside of the group meetings on campus, the group’s signature memory was doing community service in Atlanta, GA during Thanksgiving to box meals for families in need.

    “When you do community service like that, it reminds you of what Jesus was about in the first place”

    Cox and Harper’s goals going forward are to not only to sustain the group, but build on the impact within Trials of the Rib, see more diversity within the group, and continue to see growth in the group even when their time at Western has passed.

    Both will be graduating with scholarly honors, as Tari Cox will be receiving her master’s degree in clinical phycology, and Amarilis Harper will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western Carolina University.

    Though faith, support, and friendship has carried them during their time at WCU, their leadership and commitment to spreading love through Christ has left a footprint on campus that can only continue to walk towards a better tomorrow at Western Carolina University.

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