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Alumni Spotlights

Our alumni go on to do a variety of exciting and meaningful things. Their women’s studies backgrounds give them the work ethic and perspective they need to find success and happiness.

Dena Robinson '12

Dena Robinson '12 How were you involved in WMST/Feminism at Colgate?
I was involved in WMST/Feminism at Colgate in a variety of ways. Throughout my first, sophomore, junior, and senior year, I was the first-year rep, treasurer, Chairwoman, and Senior Advisor of a group on campus dedicated to raising awareness about issues women of color face in the United States and around the world known as Sister's of the Round Table (SORT). Also, during my sophomore year, I was the Multicultural Affairs Intern at the Center for Women's Studies, where I could be found creating boards about international feminism and other issues. My two major involvements in WMST/Feminism at Colgate was as a Women's Studies major where I studied prison sexual cultures, same-sex marriage legislation at the state and federal level, and my commitment to changing the sexual assault/harassment policies at Colgate, an issue I worked on passionately during my four years at Colgate. During my time at Colgate, I also served as a Director for the Vagina Monologues and as a Student Sexual Harassment Adviser through the Dean of the College.

What are you up to now?
Currently, I teach PreK-5th Grade English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Baltimore City using a social justice based/culturally responsive curriculum. In addition to teaching, I organize throughout the city on education policy and access issues, working with Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development (BUILD), The Intersection, and the Baltimore Education Coalition, some major players in the organizing arena in Baltimore. In the next couple of years, I'm planning to attend law school and either continue working in educational policy here in Baltimore or in Washington, DC.

How does WMST/feminism apply to your life?
WMST/Feminism has applied to my life in a plethora of ways, from helping me to identify the way in which I teach in Baltimore City to informing a lot of the organizing work I've done in the past. My interest in Women's Studies and its interdisciplinary approach led to me branching out into areas I didn't know I'd be interested in, such as religion, philosophy, and peace and conflict studies. As an alumna, WMST/Feminism has given me the knowledge to branch into other areas I didn't always know I was interested in, like policy, education, and foreign affairs. Additionally, my continued interest in feminism has led to me writing for blogs like AbortionGang and attending feminist reading groups and outings throughout the DMV area.

How has WMST helped shape you?
WMST has given me the confidence, the knowledge, and the community to blossom into an activist. Because of WMST, I can share my knowledge with my students and can use the skill set I've gained to create lasting change. WMST helped my confidence. WMST made me comfortable with myself and WMST helped me to channel my passion for all things social justice related into something meaningful and constructive.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
I would tell current WMST concentrators to take all the classes you can and never let anyone discredit your WMST concentration — don't be afraid to say you were a WMST major. To this day, I think that the confidence my concentration in WMST gave me as well as the varied courses that I took, have helped me to attain opportunities while at Colgate and now as an alumna. Additionally, while a student at Colgate, I'd often tell people I was a WMST/Political Science Double Major and they'd completely focus on the political science part — I often made it a point to tell them about all the amazing opportunities WMST brought my way.

Myra Guevara '10

Myra Guevara '10 How were you involved in the WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I first became involved with the Women’s Studies Center through Sisters of the Round Table (SORT). As a first year student I felt empowered by all the women before me who had created a space to talk about issues relevant to women of color. I was excited to finally find a group of women that spoke my language, that could relate to my experiences, and who inspired me to act. The Center for Women’s Studies is where I took shelter from the cold, studied, made friends, and grew into the woman I am today.

What are you up to now?
I am a Marketing & Development Assistant at The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI). We are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Before that I was a research intern at the National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health (NLRIH), a nonprofit that ensures the fundamental human right to reproductive health and justice for Latinas, their families and their communities through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.

How does WMST/Feminism apply to your life?
Feminism has always been a part of my life and after studying the theory I was able to better articulate my experiences. Growing up I saw myself as equally capable, if not more so, than my male peers. At one point I was stronger, faster (and smarter) than the boys in my class, but the older I got the more apparent our differences were (size, sex, clothes, activities, language etc.) and the more I felt my behavior was proscribed. I lived an unfair reality and I refused to accept that I was incapable of anything. Today Feminism influences what I read, how I analyze current events, who I spend time with, and the vision I have for a better world.

How has WMST helped shape you?
WMST gave me the practice I needed to question the things I’ve been taught to believe are “normal”; the ability to analyze and be a critical thinker. I question EVERYTHING down to my own beliefs: what is Feminism? Is it universal? I’m still answering that myself. That has been the biggest gift.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
It’s not too early or too late to start using what you’ve learned to put into practice. You can start by breaking down the misconceptions surrounding Feminism on campus. If you think the same men (and women) that maintain the status quo go away after college, they don’t. They enter the workforce, they sit on boards, run advertising companies, are editors of major newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, hedge funds, the list goes on. In turn these same people continue to run institutions that limit people, all people. You can make a difference right now by lauding Feminism in our time and dispelling the myths that it is no longer relevant, or that it’s about “man-bashing”, or only lesbians can do it. You can make a difference by questioning the “choices” women and men have and transforming the structures that determine such choices so that we can see a better future.

John Donnally '11

John Donally '11How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I took Introduction to Women’s Studies as a junior and what I learned in that class resonated so strongly with me that when I returned to Colgate as a senior, I spoke on a WMST’s panel at the Women’s Studies Center’s first Brown Bag of the year.

What are you up to now?
I live in Morristown, NJ and am an ambassador for the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), an organization that raises awareness about Lyme disease and generates funding for tick-borne disease research. I also coach lacrosse at Morristown-Beard High School.

How does WMST/feminism apply to your life?
What I learned and continue to learn about the Women’s Rights Movement and feminism influences the relationships I have with people in my life. I support the women in my life and celebrate all of their many accomplishments. WMST taught me how to speak out for a cause that I believe in while maintaining humility, and appreciating views that differ from my own. In many politicized conversations that simmer with a lot of emotions and hostilities, and have some huge implications, it’s easy to allow your position to stiffen and to regard the other camps as wicked or delusional. What I’ve learned from advocates in the Women’s Rights Movement, especially those in Colgate’s Women’s Studies Center, is that to be a passionate, strong, and fair advocate for a cause, you must combine a passionate conviction about your own beliefs with a constant respect for the convictions of others.

Not nearly on the same scale but similar to the WRM, the Lyme disease conversation has become very politicized and has fragmented the medical community. There’s a lot of finger pointing at and demonizing of the opposition, coming from both sides. As I enter the conversation as an ambassador for TBDA, I’m using a lot of the things I learned in Intro to WMST.

This summer I’m biking across the US to raise awareness and funding for Lyme disease. As I make my way across the country as an ambassador, I’ll be speaking at coordinated Lyme disease events and meeting with local support groups. I’ll also be interviewing, staying with, and writing about Lyme disease patients along the way, eventually putting together something more substantial when I return from my trip. A lot of the motivation behind this idea to do individual profiles of Lyme patients came from the “Herstory” essay I wrote in Intro to WMST, which helped me understand how a person’s individual journey reflects larger political events and gives us a new window through which we can understand those events—it shows us how the personal is political and how powerful an individual story can be.

How has WMST helped shape you?
When I took Intro as a junior, my understanding of the WRM and feminism/ feminists was naïve and in a lot of respects downright wrong. Growing up, when I'd hear the word feminist, usually what came to mind was the most extreme stereotype of a feminist—an image of a man-hating, bra-burning, and seriously pissed off woman. By the end of Intro to WMST, I identified as a feminist, and did so proudly and with conviction. WMST was one of those rare classes where I had to unlearn a lot of the deep-rooted assumptions I held in order to learn something new. What I learned didn’t only make me challenge previous beliefs. What I learned made me look at the world differently.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
A difficult question for me because I was an English major and took just two courses related to women’s studies (Intro, and Language and Gender), so I’ll say something more general. I’d really take advantage of all the events that Colgate hosts on campus and use all of the resources you have available at Colgate. These are two things I wish I did more of. At Colgate, there’s a supportive community of teachers and students who want to see you succeed and who will help you put words into action. Use those resources you have at Colgate to do something you’re passionate about that impacts the world beyond Hamilton.

Carrie DeWitt ’07, Ann Arbor, MI

How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I was a WMST Major at Colgate, and frequented the Women's Studies Center (although I never worked there). I performed in the Vagina Monologues and was also President of my sorority, Delta Delta Delta. I know it can often seem that being part of a sorority is not an extremely feminist decision to make, but Tri Delta was a wonderful part of my Colgate experience and was a strong group of women who celebrated each other's success, urged each other to reach and surpass their goals, and encouraged all the women in the group to be the best versions of themselves. Additionally, I had the opportunity to study 'abroad' on a Sociology trip to San Francisco during my Junior year, and I was able to take on an internship at the Women's Building in San Francisco's mission district, which was a great opportunity.

What are you up to now?
I just relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan where I was recently hired as the Assistant Market Manager for the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. I work with farmers to ensure that the market runs smoothly, is a great representation of our local food producers , and is a revenue driver for Ann Arbor's local food economy. Additionally, I volunteer for an organization that promotes healthy eating and physical activity in local schools.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
I will always consider myself a feminist and I try to live that every day. I make a conscious effort to voice my opinions on equality and work for the promotion of all women, and to question how we develop and define social norms. I vote for candidates who share that vision and want to actively work for equality. I teach a weekly course to middle school aged girls to promote healthy body images and lifestyles.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
I am not sure I would have openly labeled myself as a feminist prior to my days in Women's Studies. I was, of course, but I think I was reluctant to give myself what I thought was a 'radical' label. I now understand the importance of describing myself as a feminist and encouraging others to take on the title. I made so many connections that were invaluable in the Center- great friends and inspiring role models, strong women who were determined to make a difference in the world. It was always a welcoming, inspiring and, at times, a challenging place to be. I was lucky to have found it.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
I would tell current concentrators to spend more time in the center and try to meet people they wouldn't normally interact with. I guarantee they will make great friends. I would also encourage them to take advantage of all the great opportunities Colgate offers them- go to meetings, concerts, symposiums, lectures, conferences- all of it. I know you feel crunched for time but you will miss having all of these things at your fingertips later!

Kinsey Blair Carlson ’07, Columbia, SC

Kinsey Blair CarlsonHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
The execution of praxis is a bit different for everyone. As discussed in many of my WMST classes at Colgate, praxis is the conscious, willed action, through which theory or philosophy is transformed into practical social activity; the synthesis of theory and practice seen as a basis for or condition of political, economic and/ or social change. In many ways my praxis was influenced by what the French theorist Bourdieu terms “habitus.” Bourdieu argues that one’s habitus or one’s social environment is extremely powerful in shaping all processes of life. One’s habitus engenders the practice of the mental and emotional being. The habitus is the sum of the cultural structures and practices embodied in the individual. What correlates to Bourdieu’s theory is the way in which my praxis was structured, especially during my four years at Colgate.

READ MOREThroughout college, my praxis was basically divided into three parts. There was the academic aspect that established my guiding theory. There was the athletic component, and there was the community/activist element. Each of these factors was subject to my habitus, or social environment. From August to May, my praxis had been focused on the academic and the athletic components, and it was the freedom of my summers that allowed me the time and space to practice the community/activist element through internships, community organizing events, etc. Some would argue that the compartmentalized nature of this practice was problematic and I often questioned this as well. But I have come to realize that activism was inherent in my activities in some form or another throughout the year. My activities were configured and compartmentalized by the structures in which I participated, but as a result of my ever-expanding knowledge and experience, I actively challenged, questioned, and changed those differing structures when I could.

What are you up to now?
In May I graduated from the University of South Carolina with my Masters in Social Work and my Masters in Public Health. During my three years as a dual MSW/MPH student, my graduate practicum work focused in the realm of disability rights. The practicum experiences that were a required part of the curriculum allowed me to take my passion for disability advocacy and apply it at the systems level. Initially it was through work at Protection & Advocacy (P&A) for People with Disabilities, Inc. P&A is a legal aid agency dedicated to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are fully integrated into the community with control over their own lives; are free from abuse, neglect and exploitation; and that they have equal access to community services. Then it was through my work at the Center for Disability Resources (CDR), which is a part of the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine. CDR is designated as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and more recently as a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. At their core, all UCEDDs “work toward a shared vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.” At the Center for Disability Resources there are nearly twenty initiatives that are designed to enhance the well-being and quality of life of persons with disabilities and their families, be it at the individual or systems level.

Much to my delight, I was hired by the Center for Disability Resources upon my graduation and I am currently the Special Projects Coordinator. In my role as a graduate intern and now as paid staff, I have participated in: grant writing, quality assurance, intake/screening for the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, program development, program evaluation, and lots and lots of advocacy.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
For as long as I can remember, I have cared about the health and wellbeing of people – people in my community and more broadly people whom I cannot even see or touch. One of the highly regarded feminist tenets to which I adhere and that is applicable to my interest in welfare issues is that “the betterment of one is the betterment of all.” This tenet encapsulates us so that we as individuals cannot be disconnected from the others in our society and our world. If a community has specific health problems such as a high median age for Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis (such as we do here in South Carolina), a lack of infrastructure (like the need for additional Applied Behavior Analysts to provide therapy to children diagnosed with ASD), and reactive health care or social service delivery systems, that is not only going to impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of that specific individual/family. There are going to be external consequences to that community that can include significant and long-term monetary costs. Every day the public health infrastructures of our local communities and states are bombarded with new challenges brought on by population growth, shifting patterns in disease prevalence, budget reductions, and the ever-changing political arena. As I went through graduate school, I realized just how critical it is that we have public health administrators that embrace our interconnectedness and it became my goal to help remedy the disparities in health status and access to social services that many individuals with disabilities and their families face.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
Many feminist ideas, philosophies and approaches stand at the core of my belief system and they have very much influenced my work with marginalized populations.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
I believe that a degree in WMST helps to teach you how to think and how to question. I think it provides a language for a lot of things that each of us intrinsically feel, but might not have known how to express before exploring the women’s studies literature. Use the knowledge that you have acquired at Colgate as a foundation for further analysis. If you work in Corporate America, question how your salary compares to your male counterparts. Inquire as to the makeup of the Board of Directors. If you move into the social service realm, identify how you can help the individuals you work with make the personal the political. At the end of the day, be an advocate. Be an advocate for yourself. Be an advocate for women. Be an advocate for those who are marginalized and disadvantaged. Oh, and take note of the current political dialogue and make sure that you are registered to vote and request your absentee ballot, if need be.

Gabriella Jones-Casey '09, Pittsburgh, PA

Gabby Jones-Casey Women's Studies alumna How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I first got involved in the WMST center through Sisters of the Round Table (SORT). Our meetings were held in the lobby and that is where I met a lot of the women of color that were leaders on the campus. From that moment I was hooked. I can honestly say that I started and ended my time at Colgate in that Center. I became a WMST major the following year. Many of my classes for WMST were held in the center.
  • I participated for three years in the Vagina Monologues, portraying the six year old girl for two years in a row.
  • I was an active member of SORT, holding three Core positions (Treasurer, External Secretary, Chairwoman) over my four years at Colgate.
  • I spent a lot of time in the SORT office (located in the center) and visiting with the faculty and Letta. 
  • I attended most of the brown bags throughout my four years as well as presented on interracial dating and on White Male privilege during these sessions.
  • I graduated in May of 2009. I majored in WMST and minored in History.
  • I collaborated with WMST and OUS to facilitate a discussion/training on Sexual Health to incoming first year (OUS) girls.
READ MORE
What are you up to now?
  • Prior to grad school, I worked as a Student Advocate at The Harlem Children's Zone for 2 years
  • I am currently a first year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. I am studying Social Work, with an emphasis in Community Organizing, Social Administration (Non profit management), and Policy.
  • I work as a Full Service Community School Advocate at The Homewood Children's Village
  • Volunteer at Gwen's Girls, mentoring and tutoring
How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
I plan to work in the Human Rights/social justice sector for the rest of my life. A lot of that interest was sparked, or at least nurtured while I was a WMST major. To me believing in Feminism means the following:
  • You believe that every person is entitled to (quality) housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, as well as the right to choose how they live their life (as long as they do not cause harm to others)
  • Difference is a benefit, not a burden or a bad thing
  • The conversation is just not around Men and Women being equal, but is really about all forms of oppression and prejudice
  • Every person is valuable regardless of difference
  • Race, class, gender (as well as other markers) are social constructions and therefore can be recreated and shaped to respect everyone
  • The most important thing is how someone identifies, not how society labels them
  • To eradicate oppression you need players from both sides to engage in dialogue
  • The rights of people should always be protected, and we must evolve to create new rights and eliminate oppressive ones
  • There is not one woman's experience, but many women's experiences (Intersectionality)
  • Justice cannot be fought for in a bubble, but must be fought for everywhere
  • There are many different feminisms
  • This is what I believe and how I try to live my life.
How has WMST helped to shape you?
  • I have an interdisciplinary way of thinking.
  • I can draw connections across difference.
  • My relationships with Ulla Grapard and Helene Julien have helped shape me and the paths that I have chosen to follow. Also my experiences in the WMST department and with the individuals that I have met through the center have taught me how to be more outspoken, professional, and invested in my interests.
  • I met many of my closest friends through the center or SORT.
What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
Don't pay attention to individuals who suggest that you cannot get a job with a WMST degree; you have the power to dictate how you want to use and apply what you have learned from your degree. There are many jobs that specialize in social justice. The WMST department teaches you how to think critically, analyze and comprehend information, and write well (these are the most useful skills in the work force). In addition to that, you learn how to think about problems in a very different way.

To current WMST concentrators I would advise that you figure out what you are passionate about and find a way to fight for what you believe. Have a moral code. A degree in WMST is such that you can infuse it into anything that you do. Concentrators in WMST are people that are social activists. Cultivate this desire to ensure equality, equity, and justice by volunteering, working, and leading in your field. Go with your gut feeling, put yourself out there, and try new things. Do not get pigeonholed into one type of job/work/way of being.

Also, check out this website about what you can do with a WMST major:

Johanna Ames '98 - Cortland, NY

Johanna Ames Women's Studies alumna How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate? What year did you graduate?
I am a member of the great class of 1998 and I was a WMST & Geography double major.

What are you up to now?
I own and operate a textile rental company in Cortland, New York. I also serve on a number of not for profit boards in my community and I chair the Colgate Alumni Admissions Program for Central New York.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
I have always appreciated how the WMST program encouraged me to think proactively about women's roles, relationships, and responsibilities in our society. In my current position as a business owner, I work diligently to promote and encourage my employees, the majority of whom are women, to better themselves. Many of them are single moms, working hard to support and lead their families. I never want to be accused of holding someone back.

READ MOREHow has WMST helped to shape you?
My WMST background has not only shaped my appreciation for the hard work and dedication of my employees, most of whom are balancing work and home, but also fostered my ability to navigate and lead effectively in a male dominated industry.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
Take advantage and appreciate all that Colgate offers you, including the opportunity to grow and learn amongst your peers in the WMST program. The core values that you are developing are critical to your success both in your personal lives and as you define your career. Sharpen your communication skills, both written and verbal, while you are in a supportive, educational environment - you will need them!

Audrey Stevens '08 - Washington D.C.

Audrey Stevens Women's Studies alumna How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I was very involved with WMST/feminism at Colgate by being an active participant at the Women's Studies Center. I also took part in events such as Vagina Monologues, Take Back the Night and many a brown bag. I would have to say one of my most memorable experiences happened during my last semester my senior year. It was my practicum for Prof. Meika Loe's senior seminar. We were to basically live and practice our feminist beliefs. It was taking everything I learned and applying it into my life. So I created a little grassroots network for students who have been victims of rape/sexual violence to have student supporters. This practicum was very near and dear to my heart because in fall 2007 I was raped and found that Colgate had such a great support system through faculty, staff and counseling center...but to my shock there was no student support. I didn't really have anyone to talk to about my tragedy. Creating a network for students to be support for other students who had been affected by rape/sexual violence was huge for me.

READ MOREI felt that even though my practicum didn't happen until my last semester it was my proudest achievement at Colgate. And right before graduation I actually sat in the Coop and had coffee with a young lady who had been raped and supported her by just listening. I really valued my time spent with that young lady. Women's issues will always be a part of who I am and what I do.

What are you up to now?
I am actually taking a medical leave of absence from law school but maintaining my legal foothold by interning with the Indian Law Resource Center in Washington DC. I also volunteer with my partner Rick's organization Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County in Bethesda, MD.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?

WMST and feminism still apply to my life because I am a woman who cares about other women. I feel like I stay connected in many different ways whether it’s have happy hour with my girlfriends, working on Native American Women's issue, drafting memo's considering SAFE Women laws, taking Reproductive Justice courses, or learning more about issues affecting woman today. I am most active with researching and supporting my center's lawyers in regards to Native American Women's issue and trying to bring Native Women's Issues to the attention of Human Rights Committee and law makers. Also I practice my culture’s traditional ceremonies of celebrating an Apache girl's coming of age ceremony, which I think is the cornerstone to why I was so active in WMST and Feminism on Colgate's campus and still am. I believe feminism and women's issue were instilled in me as important by my culture. Women are sacred and strong. So when women aren't treated as sacred or strong I feel the need to help correct that discrepancy anyway I can.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
WMST gave me the tools to incorporate women's issues into whatever I do. The courses I took at Colgate taught me to be more open-minded and also to understand different women's perspectives on key issues that I didn't necessarily think were issues that affected me. I became a better listener from involvement with WMST. I feel that my time at Colgate really shaped me into the woman I am today.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
Please take as many courses as you can even the ones that are challenging and difficult. Truly listen and soak in whatever the professors say. Don't stress out and have fun with everything that you do with WMST.

Heather Angstrom '05 - Boston, Massachusetts

Heather Angstrom Women's Studies AlumnaHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I was a Studio Art and Women's Studies double major at Colgate, and I spent a semester in Santa Fe, New Mexico on an off-campus program led by my WMST advisor, Sarah Wider. I also performed in the Vagina Monologues and taught women's rock-climbing classes for Outdoor Education. After graduating, I worked for a year as the Program Assistant at the Center for Women's Studies.

What are you up to now?
I'm working on a national anti-childhood obesity initiative called ChildObesity180 at the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, a graduate school at Tufts University in Boston.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life? How has WMST helped to shape you?
WMST and feminism still play an important role in my life, both personally and professionally. I first became interested in public health while writing my WMST senior thesis on women's access to health care in Afghanistan. The following year, while working as the Women's Studies Program Assistant, I took Meika Loe's Women, Health and Medicine course and grew even more interested in the subject.

READ MOREAlthough the initiative that I'm currently working on is focused on children, not women, the things I learned in WMST about social justice and equity issues led me to seek out a position focused on underserved and vulnerable populations.

Personally and politically, I identify as a feminist, care deeply about women's issues (especially women's health issues) and pay a lot of attention to how women and women's issues are represented and discussed both in the popular media and in my personal interactions.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?

I think a great strength of the Women's Studies program is its interdisciplinarity. In my work in various university-affiliated programs over the last seven years, I've seen an increasing appreciation for interdisciplinary approaches to thinking and problem-solving. The things that you learn in Women's Studies can apply to many different careers and fields after you graduate. Think creatively about what aspects of the Women's Studies curriculum are the most compelling to you and how you can incorporate those aspects into your professional life.

Lisa Henty '08 - Orange County, North Carolina

Lisa Henty Women's Studies AlumnaHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I became actively involved in the WMST program at Colgate during my sophomore year. I felt comfortable, engaged and curious about many of the programs and offerings sponsored by the Women’s Studies Center. My intro class was the first time I ever felt excited to learn about history. Of course, the excitement came from identifying with so many women, their struggles and their power and strength to overcome adversity.

From there I was a regular at brown bags, listened to many of the speakers sponsored by WMST, and even found the center to be a great study and socialization spot. I was fortunate to attend the extended study to Denmark which developed life-long friendships with all majors, particularly new faces.

READ MORE What are you up to now?
Currently I am working as a Budget and Management Analyst for Orange County, NC. My areas of responsibility include human services, non-profit funding, enterprise funds, and general administration accounts. While on the surface what I do is financial in nature, many of the policy decisions are based on advocacy, fair funding, and making sure we are providing the best service to those in need in Orange County. It can be a challenge to provide a fair, equitable, measurable, and sustainable program in a local government during these financial times, but with time and effort I truly believe it can be done.

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?

It will always apply. My first two years out of school I really struggled to find activities similar to those I experienced at the Center. I felt that feminism did not exist; I lost the comfort and security of an active center with likeminded people. I realized that feminism was more than activities and speakers. I knew this while at school but when on my own I am began to realize my feminism was changing from a collective experience to an even more personal one.
It is a way of life. It will be different for each person. I have always appreciated that. If I were to identify areas of my life that exhibit feminism I would say they would be in my volunteer activities, and my ability to listen and support others. I also make the decision to speak up when I am in the minority to ensure the voice is heard. Of course, I am still developing who I am and many times feminism challenges me to truly think about where I stand on issues that I thought I knew before. I do not think that will ever go away.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
I know that college can be a struggle at times when one is trying to create and understand one’s identity. The program, classes, professors, and classmates all encouraged me (sometimes unknowingly) to explore boundaries I likely would not have considered.

It helped develop a sense of confidence, courage, and comfort not only about myself but what I wanted to do after Colgate. It has helped me to realize that I do not need to immediately succeed to claim a success, I just have to persevere.

The most noticeable development I had from WMST was learning the importance of reflection. It helps me on a daily basis at work, with my relationships, and even my own personal goals.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
  • Journal. Blog. Record. Interview. Photograph. Track your journey through college and this program and you will have invaluable material for years to come. I thought at the time I was tracking things but I realize I should have tracked in more detail.
  • Do something that challenges what you believe – We all have hot button issues. I would encourage each of you to experience a protest for something you may not fully support or write a term project on something you completely oppose. Be respectful, open your mind and you will be surprised what you can learn from this experience and how it will shape your own reactions and interactions with others.
  • Define feminism often and note how it changes over time.
  • Enjoy a retreat at Chapel House to reflect on a complex issue or difficult struggle (even after you graduate).
Contact Lisa by email (Lmhenty@gmail.com) or her LinkedIn Page

Liz Grover '11 - Chappaqua, New York

Liz Grover Women's Studies Alumna How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
At Colgate I was a Women’s Studies minor. I went to almost every Tuesday Brown Bag Lunch my junior and senior year. I also participated in the Yes Means Yes series.

What are you up to now?
My summer was pretty busy. First I worked as the photo assistant for the special Real Simple Family issue. After that I worked at Lee and Low Book publisher as the marketing and publicity intern. Lee and Low is an independent children’s book publisher that focuses on issues of race and cultural diversity. After my internship I went back to Real Simple to work as the photo assistant.

In addition, I met Rachel Greenburg who introduced me to the Feminist Press. I joined the Feminist Press Young Patron Steering Committee and am really excited to see where that goes!

READ MORE How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
Women’s studies will always apply to my life. I was nervous after I left school that I would stop talking about feminism in the same way and therefore stop thinking about it. However, that is basically impossible for me. I still read feminist blogs every day, read feminist literature and view the world through my feminist lens.

I still want to be involved in the feminist community. I went to a “feminist tea party” a few weeks ago, which was an incredible experience. On the website it explains, “Our project lies somewhere between a contemporary consciousness-raising group, a performance, an installation and a joke. We wed two conceptions of a tea party: (1) the tea party as historical referent and site of political debate (think: the Boston Tea Party or the Beck/Palin “Tea Party”) with (2) the tea party as a gendered and highly-stylized ritual (think: 4 o’clock tea). Provoked by the Tea Party protests, our project recasts the “tea party” as a playful, progressive, inquisitive and inclusive space.” I can’t wait to go to another event. Also now that I’m involved with the Feminist Press, I’ll have lots more feminist activities to go to and even plan!

How has WMST helped to shape you?
Women’s studies has shaped how I see the world. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s really true. Women’s studies at Colgate introduced me to a new way of thinking. Ignorance is no longer “bliss.” I can’t pretend to hind behind a curtain of ignorance. It is my responsibility to pay attention to my surroundings and make an effort to learn about the people around me. I cannot let myself live my life in a bubble. I need to actively learn and keep learning about social justice. Women’s studies introduced me to this and shaped my views on my responsibility to society.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
Be critical, but listen. No one knows it all and everyone has different life experiences (even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface). Let others talk, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to call people out. It’s ok to disagree with your peers. That makes for a more interesting conversation anyhow.


Sarah Sillin '05, University of Maryland - College Park, Maryland

Sarah Sillin Women's Studies AlumnaHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I was an English and WMST double major, as well as working at the Women's Studies Center.

What are you up to now?
I'm a PhD student in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, teaching undergraduates and writing my dissertation (currently titled "Global Sympathy: Representing 19th Century Americans' Relations to the World").

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
My background in Women's Studies has had a strong influence on both my own research and my teaching, influencing which authors and texts I study, my methodology, and the texts I assign to my classes.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
In part, participating in Women's Studies at Colgate provided me with a strong sense of community. Students, staff, and faculty with similar interests came together for generative discussions, whether at formal events such as the Brown Bag series or informally when socializing at the Center and around campus. This not only added richness to my life as an undergraduate, but has also encouraged me to seek out similar sites of community, for instance, by participating in the Society for the Study of American Women Writers' conference.

READ MORE Further, the conversations that emerged in Women's Studies courses and at events fostered a sense of critical thinking and self-reflectiveness that--though sometimes frustrating or challenging--have also been immensely useful to my graduate work. The service learning incorporated into the study group to Santa Fe, NM (led by Prof. Wider) and the course Women, Health, and Medicine (taught by Prof. Loe) was particularly useful in fostering such skills and keeping me engaged. Colgate's program provided me with the theoretical background for my current work and has helped me think carefully about my pedagogy, what I think my classroom should look like, and what I hope my students will learn.

For me it almost goes without saying that it was my classes that made me want to become a professor. I was always impressed by how thoughtful, engaged, and generous faculty were, as well as by how lively the conversations with other students could be, to the point where I wanted to just keep doing that at the graduate level. Faculty--including Prof. Wider, Prof. Darby, and Prof. Julien--also provided valuable support that made it possible for me to land my first job after college and get accepted to a doctoral program. I am deeply indebted to all of them.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
That's a tough question. I found it to be a fabulous program. Because it can at times be challenging to translate what Women's Studies means, thinking about what kinds of content and skills you're learning as you move through the program might prove useful. I believe students come away with impressive knowledge that can translate to a wide array of fields, and simply figuring out how to communicate what you're learning can be good preparation for when you complete your degree, whether you continue your education or apply for jobs.

Liz Thompson, Residential Life Staff, St. Lawrence University - Canton, NY

Liz Thomson Women's Studies MajorHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I served as the Women’s Studies Program Assistant for two years, from 2007 to 2009.

What are you up to now?
I recently joined the Residence Life staff at St. Lawrence University, a small, liberal arts college in northern New York State, as a Residential Coordinator. In this role, I advise Community Assistants (also known as RAs at different institutions) and co-teach a leadership class for new Community Assistants. I additionally advise a student-run helpline for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and support the work of theme houses devoted to LGBTQ activism, feminisms and women’s issues.

READ MORE How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
I consider myself a social justice educator, prompting myself to pay attention to the ways in which power, privilege, oppression and social identities affect my interactions with students. It means engaging in dialogue about social inequities and cultural norms, even (and especially) when it is uncomfortable, and finding ways to effectively communicate across difference with students, faculty and staff. While “feminist” does not explicitly appear in that identification, I constantly remind myself that exploring feminisms made my commitment to social justice possible. Learning about intersectionality helped me to realize that identifying as feminist was integrally connected to working toward eradicating racism, ableism, genderism and homophobia, among other inequities. In that way, my feminist identity is at my personal and professional core – it is “home.” It is the touch point upon which my subsequent work is based because it introduced me to many other forms of oppression.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
Contributing to WMST had a profound impact on me. My work there helped me to understand that theory and practice are interdependent; they are not isolated from one another. My goal in college was to be a professor of Women’s Studies; this goal then morphed into working closely with college students, particularly those who are underresourced and underrepresented. I then applied to a master’s program at The University of Michigan in Higher Education, where I interned with a social justice education program called The Program on Intergroup Relations. (Learn more about it here: www.igr.umich.edu). My current passion lies in engaging with students who experience oppression and privilege and learning with them and from them. These learning processes are ongoing, I find, and being in an educational environment encourages such growth. I can’t think of anything better to do for a living!

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
Utilize the Center for Women’s Studies as often as possible. It is a fabulous space to engage in conversation, hang out, study and explore ideas with people who care about gender equity and social justice.

Rachel Greenburg ‘09, Early Victim Engagement Project - New York, NY

Rachel Greenburg Women's Studies AlumnaHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I was involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate in terms of both academics and in all my extracurricular activities. Academically, I took “Introduction to Women's Studies” second semester junior year and was hooked! I continued to take courses in WMST such as “Gender, Sexuality, and the Law”, “Hollywood Cinema and the Word”, and “Women Speak (Linguistics and Gender)”. Furthermore, I wrote my senior SOAN thesis on "The Categorization of Rape and Sexual Assault on Colgate University's Campus: The perpetuation of rape myths and gender inequality" All these classes really grounded my own identity and made me incorporate feminism more into my daily life. Outside of the classroom I became involved with the Vagina Monologues both my junior and senior year, and, through my internship with the COVE, brought more awareness to women's issues at Colgate and beyond. I also brought the organization SAFER (Students Active for Ending Rape) to Colgate to help reform our sexual assault policy, and then together with a group of students met with administrators and drafted a new sexual assault policy.

READ MORE What are you up to now?
Currently, I am working as a Victim Liaison in the domestic violence bureau with the Early Victim Engagement Project (EVE) at the Kings County District Attorney's Office. In this position I contact victim of domestic violence 24-48 hours after their partner has interacted with the criminal justice system. I give victims of domestic violence criminal justice information, supportive listening, and do safety planning while describing free services offered at the Brooklyn Family Justice Center. As a fun release twice a week, I also teach figure skating to 6 year old girls at a non-profit called Figure Skating in Harlem!

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?
WMST/ feminism applies to my life every single day with the work that I do. Talking to so many women every day that all have different stories allows me to connect individual experiences with greater feminist causes. I purposely am following a career path where every day I can reflect on feminist implications and challenge myself to impact social change. I have also joined the Young Patron Steering Committee at an organization called Feminist Press and am continuously trying to get more involved in the feminist circle in NYC.

How has WMST helped to shape you?
WMST took me on a path that I could have never imagined. After I stepped foot into my first introduction to women's studies class, I knew that I would be involved in women's/ feminist issues for the rest of my life and it would be my career. Through Brown Bags, the Vagina Monologues, the Network, and the fabulous faculty, I instantly felt like I wanted to be involved. The same summer after second semester junior year I interned at the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence and knew right away that was an issue I was passionate about. I constantly felt supported and challenged by the Colgate WMST program and still feel such a strong connection to the center today.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?

To current WMST concentrators I would tell them to do what you’re passionate about and use the WMST center as a catalyst for change. There are so many great faculty members and program staff that are there to support you and challenge you, so use them! The WMST Center was started as a place for women to come together and discuss common experiences and issues so use it as a place for community and to connect with other feminists.

Nina Merrill '09, Columbia University School of Social Work - New York, NY

Nina Merrill Women's Studies AlumnaHow were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate?
I concentrated in WMST before graduating in '09. For my senior thesis, along with a fellow WMST concentrator, I developed the Colgate Post Secret Project. This campus wide initiative attempted to allow students to reclaim their voices by writing a secret on a postcard that they felt they could not verbalize to their friends or family. Students sent these postcards anonymously to a campus mailbox and they were then displayed in the WMST Center and on a corresponding blog. I helped lead a Brown Bag discussion group to address the issues these postcards revealed, which ranged from body image and racism, to gender roles and failed expectations of college.

READ MORE
What are you up to now?
I am currently beginning my second year at the Columbia University School of Social Work, where I will graduate in May with an MSW. I am an advanced clinical practice student within the field of health, mental health, and disabilities, which basically meansthat I will end up working as a psychotherapist. When I first decided to get my master's, I was committed to graduating and working with clients suffering from a variety of eating disorders. Throughout the past year, I have also developed a true passion for working in the field of sexual health (especially as it relates to women).

As many of my professors tell me, and as I appreciate due to my coursework in WMST, eating disorders and sexual health/sex therapy truly go hand-in-hand because of the sociologically and gender-based roots of both issues. It's funny because when I chose to major in WMST, I honestly didn't think it would apply directly to any future career -- now it turns out that both of my professional interests are 100% related!

How does WMST/feminism still apply to your life?

Without even realizing it, taking WMST courses at Colgate helped to completely reframe the way I think about the world. While many of my current classmates at Columbia are just being introduced to the impact gender and sexuality have on every individual, it is one of my first considerations when working with a client. The critical eye WMST helped me develop plays out in my personal life as well, and I find that I am constantly questioning the status quo and trying to surmise why certain supposedly static parts of life are the way they are.

What advice would you give to current WMST concentrators?
One of my biggest regrets while on campus is not taking more advantage of the WMST Center, especially the Brown Bag Series. It is sad to say, but for the most part, my identity as a WMST major was based on my courses and not on many extracurricular activities within the program. It is so easy to get swept up in the stresses of school and the responsibilities that are pulling you in different directions, but it may only take one lecture or one activity to introduce you to a new perspective, a potential career, or a person you've never met.

Furthermore, I remember being very worried about how I would use my WMST major to find a career about which I'd be passionate.

I chose WMST because as I looked through the course booklet, these were the classes that interested me the most. Now that I look back, it seems almost comical that I didn't make the connection that my academic interests would be a good indicator of what career would be most fulfilling. My advice would be to sit down and really consider what factors led you to choose WMST, what you love most about the concentration, and then try to find a career that will incorporate these aspects as well. I know, easier said than done!