Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Self-defense, self-care empower students at Girls Night Out

Makenzie Long
Students receive self-defense tools at the “Girls Night Out” hosted by the Texas Sunshines and Safely at the Kendra Scott Entrepreneurial Institute on April 9, 2024.

CW: This article contains mentions of rape.

Circled up among each other, UT students surround Master Janell and her commands. Shouting “stand back” while imitating knee strikes, these students learn martial arts while simultaneously hearing from female-founded companies. 

Texas Sunshines, a UT spirit and service organization, and Safely, a modern self-defense company, hosted the Girls Night Out event on April 9 at the Kendra Scott Entrepreneurial Institute. The event empowered and equipped women with skills to protect themselves. The female-founded companies — Freewell, Blur, Tukong Martial Arts, Unique Vintage and SafeHorns — sponsored the event at tables.   

Texas Sunshines hosted this event last semester, but this semester the event was promoted to the whole UT community. Nursing junior and Texas Sunshines philanthropy chair Raeh Corl said she wanted to expand the variety of people to help the entire campus. 

“It’s so wholesome to see everyone come and so nice to have everyone here learning and willing to increase their skills and be better citizens in the community,” Corl said. 

Texas Sunshines partners with the Sexual Violence Prevention Association, a national nonprofit that fights sexual violence and human trafficking. 

“I hope that everyone walks out of here feeling empowered to protect themselves and help their friends when they need it,” Corl said.

The attendees walked around the sponsors’ tables, hearing about the products and inspiring stories of how the founders created their brands. Ashely Raymond, cofounder of Safely, held the responsibility of inviting the other companies. She founded Safely three years ago and launched their main product: pepper spray. 

“(My co-founders and I) bonded in a class project over not feeling safe and wanting to do something about it,” Raymond said. “We started looking into the safety companies that were out there and that’s when we decided to start Safely.”  

At another table sat Shandi Nichelle, founder of Freewell, a beauty and personal care company. After being raped at age seven, she said the idea for this brand came to her during the hardest time of her life.     

“The best thing is learning self-defense and creating awareness,” Nichelle said. “For women like me, going through what I’ve gone through as a seven-year-old, it’s hard to know self-defense.”   

Master Janell, Texas Sunshines’ private self-defense instructor, came to the event and shared her expertise in martial arts, Taekwondo, kickboxing and fitness with the girls.

“I’m a college-aged lady, so I feel like (this event is) really important, especially in a big city like Austin,” said finance sophomore Andrea Rodriguez-Acosta. “(I want) to keep myself safe and protected.”

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