What did you take away from your time at Bowdoin?
Just after finishing my undergraduate degree in Gender and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin, I moved into a summer internship in Boston for the summer of 2006. In Boston I worked with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts as part of the Massachusetts Voter Action Project. This internship made sense for me because I was very involved as a volunteer and intern for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England while in college, and I was very interested in learning more about the political/administrative side of the organization. During that internship I spent some time making calls to gauge the number of pro-choice voters lived in out surrounding area, and I also served as a volunteer for the Willie Mae Allen legislative campaign as part of the effort to get more pro-choice people in office.
After my internship with PPLM, I moved to Fort Collins, CO, and started working for the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center (SAVA), a local non-profit, as the Development Coordinator. In my position I did direct service work, including advocacy and crisis intervention for sexual assault survivors and their loved ones, planned and executed three annual fundraisers, and I was also exposed to grant writing.
I worked at SAVA for two years, and being there really gave me a place to feel like I was a part of something greater. I found that working to change laws, etc., which was much of what I did at PPLM, was not really for me; I wanted to make an impact with individuals. My work at SAVA allowed me to do this, and it also opened up the opportunity for me to learn more about sexual violence education and prevention. I became actively involved in the Supergirls Running Empowerment Program each summer, where I was paired with a girl (ages ranged from 6-12) and trained to run a 5K race. In addition to training for the race the Supergirls met a few times a week to explore issues surrounding body image, self-esteem, stereotypes, etc. I really enjoyed my experience with Supergirls and realized how powerful working with youth can be.
After working for a couple years at SAVA, I am currently in my first semester of Graduate School at Colorado State University. I am pursuing my Master’s in Education in Counseling & Career Development, with the goal of becoming a school counselor. Before I was a GWS major at Bowdoin I was an English major with an Education minor, and I thought I wanted to become a teacher. I realized, though, that my passion was really for GWS. As a school counselor, hopefully at the junior high school level, I will have the opportunity to work with students and encourage gender equality in my work. I just finished writing a paper for one of my classes in which I touched upon gender identity formation for young adolescents and found some pretty upsetting information about how ingrained gender stereotypes already are at this age. I believe that helping individual students become healthier and feel okay with being themselves outside of gender stereotypes is a way to initiate social change. As individuals move further from the gender stereotypes and misogyny that permeate our culture and instead begin to feel more confident with their individual selves I believe we will move toward a society that values and supports the success of all genders.
How has your major impacted your life/career?
Being a GWS major gave me a place to open up and talk about so many of the issues we are taught to silence. Since my first GWS class I have not stopped talking about gender issues and pointing out how they affect society. Sometimes this means I have to stand up when others do not want to, but that’s okay. Being a GWS major helped me come to a better place with myself and feel confident to spread the message to all people in an effort to make all genders reach their fullest potential.