Our Wave


The Venture

Our Wave is a nonprofit that hosts an online platform offering survivors of sexual assault the opportunity to share their stories anonymously and to build a message of hope for other survivors. This online community is fostered through acts of writing, storytelling, and offering help to others. They have three main goals as an organization which are to empower survivors, educate society, and mobilize communities.

The Journey

The Our Wave team began their journey addressing the scope of their project. They wanted to create a world without sexual assault but also help current survivors in their journey to healing. 

Click the image to view the team’s final presentation

In their initial research, the team found that Our Wave’s approach was unique to other platforms because of their design and their focus on security and anonymity. This research led to a lot of interesting feedback and Rebecca reports an important moment in their journey where they realized that “while this tool could be really helpful and healing to some there’s always a possibility with such a sensitive subject of this being almost ‘re-traumatizing.’ So [the team] started to position [themselves] to be this almost impartial second party that works in parallel to Our Wave to explore these issues a little bit further.”

The remainder of the team’s time was spent producing a second, more thorough, user feedback survey which would allow them to get more data and help them identify this ideal consumer. This second survey focused a lot on user needs, the site’s usability, and what resources were best for both supporters and survivors.

The Outcome

The team’s final deliverable was the implementation and break down of their survey data where they confirmed a number of really positive aspects about the site and discovered some user confusion around key things like how anonymity works and how survivors were interacting with the site’s grounding activity.

At the end of the year, the team has summarized all those details and presented them to Our Wave with common themes. Their hope is that they can use this data to enable more survivors to benefit from this effective tool in their healing journey.

Lessons Learned

The Our Wave team had a number of takeaways emphasizing the power of cross-disciplinary work, slowing down, and enjoying one another as a team.

The team working with their Venture Partner Kyle Linton

Zach Hover emphasized the tendency as students to want to just jump right into getting things done and how this experience “taught him a lot about making sure that you are asking the right questions and finding that footing before you really jump in head-first.”

This same sentiment is echoed by Jackie who talks about “how important it is to stop and reflect before acting and how important it is to learn about the issue and all the different ways you can address an issue.”

“It’s important to really be honest with what your expectations are for an experience. I think we learned a lot as a group that we were capable of a lot and it was really important for us to communicate the value that we thought that we could bring throughout and really believe in ourselves. That was really cool to see come together.” – Rebecca Jones

The team also talked about how important it was to have different perspectives. Rebecca Jones is a veterinary medicine student and said: “it’s really wonderful to work with such a passionate group of people in different fields because it’s easy to get lost in [her] little bubble over on the vet school campus.”

Overall, it’s obvious how much this team enjoyed working together, Maddie Hornsby summarized the sentiment of the group by saying how “It’s really inspiring to work with such passionate and driven people as well as Our Wave. It’s just been an unforgettable experience that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.”

We are excited to see what is in store for Our Wave and the future of these amazing students!

The Team

  • Jackie Lanning, senior, biological sciences, minor in international studies
  • Zach Hover, senior, communication (public relations), minor in biological sciences
  • Maddie Hornsby, senior, business administration (entrepreneurship)
  • Mia Thillet, junior, psychology
  • Rebecca Jones, DVM candidate (public health and epidemiology)
  • Senior Fellow: Alysa Buchanan, NC State ’19
  • Team Mentor: Miles Wright, CEO, Avient Biosciences
  • Venture Partner: Kyle Linton, entrepreneur, NC State ’14