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News and Testimonials from Current and Former Students

I n Spring 2016, WGSS reached out to current and former students to ask for accounts of their experiences as WaGS majors and minors at Stony Brook- and what they are doing with their degrees today. Here are some of the responses we received. (Banner images, from left to right: Tayisha Saint Vil at graduation, 2015; Ascheley Charles at graduation, 2015; and  Raven Dorsey at graduation, 2016.)   

Majors: 

"After majoring in WaGS, I went on to study Clinical Psychology at the doctoral level. WaGS at SBU provided me with a multidisciplinary perceptive through which to understand people. The program helped cultivate my understanding of complex theory and provided me with the skills to develop and publish my own writing. I found the classes at WaGS at SBU to be the perfect blend of rigor and captivation."- Marie Hansen (BA, 2003)

In its spring 2007 issue, Ms. Magazine posed the question, “What can you do with a women’s studies degree?” They received many letters in response, and published a sampling of them. One was from Katie Sheean (BA, 2007) , a Stony Brook graduate. Here’s what she wrote: “After I graduate from the great, glorious women's studies facility at Stony Brook University in New York, I will be attending law school in Indiana. Women's studies has brought me to a point where I feel that I can give back to people and truly share my knowledge and intelligence, I will be pursuing a J.D. with foci in international human rights and environmental law.I feel that these resources will help me utilize the vast knowledge that I have gained through my amazing university experience and my relationship with feminism.”

"Pursuing a major in Women’s and Gender Studies with a specialization in Gender, Sexuality, and Public Health was a valuable program that offered innovative curriculum combined with rigorous coursework, research and 
experiential training. This interdisciplinary academic program enabled me to engage in fields such as psychology, sociology, history, and politics from the lens of feminism and gender. The coursework challenged me to question mainstream concepts and illuminate marginalized ideas reaching beyond feminism to areas such as racism and ableism. From core curriculum to internships to Teaching Assistant positions to research, I harnessed the resources available and achieved a stellar education rooted in critical thinking, argumentation, and writing. The skills—analysis, expression, communication, reading, and writing—I refined as a consequence of the Women’s and Gender Studies with a specialization in Gender, Sexuality, and Public Health empowered me to found a wellness company and a non-profit, and pursue research and a doctorate in clinical nutrition. I attribute my success to the multifaceted pillars erected from undertaking a major in Women’s and Gender Studies. And I am grateful for this invaluable experience leading me to join a distinctive community of scholars, researchers, practitioners, and advocates promoting whole person, relationship-centered healthcare." - Christine Cherpak (BA, 2007)

"When I started my first semester at Stony Brook University in 2009, I was a Women’s Studies minor.  But after taking only one class, I knew that I wanted it to be my major. I loved being a Women’s Studies major for many reasons. Because the major is small, students learn in an intimate setting, with meaningful discussion. Every member of the faculty has inspired me and given me a unique perspective through challenging assignments and thought-provoking lectures. The faculty is not only insightful in the classroom, but also nurturing outside of it. They are involved with student clubs on campus, and are always available for career assistance or guidance into higher education. Some highlights from my experience include discussing Global Feminism in Professor Francoise Cromer's class; learning about Feminist Theory from Professor Lisa Diedrich; and gaining perspective into public and reproductive health from Professor Robin DeLuca.

During my time at Stony Brook, I also decided to take on a second major: Political Science. I decided that I to pursue a career in public administration, where—with everything I had learned as a Women’s Studies major— I would bring a unique perspective to the table. Since then, I interned with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and then with United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, which led to a full-time position as Deputy State Scheduler in his New York City office." - Grace Drewes (BA, 2012)

"I chose the WaGS major because as a feminist, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding and wider range of tools to work for the betterment of lives of women in all their diversity. Being in the WaGS community created the necessary environment to discuss gender identity, race, class, and sexuality in an intersectional, inclusive, and challenging way. It created the space to listen to others whose experiences differed from my own, to share my struggles, and to work together to find the common thread towards positive change. I am currently working for a global movement promoting the rights of young women and girls both at the grassroots community level and through international advocacy efforts within UN systems, with a programmatic focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The discussions held in and out of class with the WaGS professors and students, as well as my engagement in the feminists and LGBTQ clubs on campus helped shape my professional feminist perspectives that I carry and apply both in my personal and professional life."- Sophia Pierre- Antoine (BA, 2013).  Sophia also discusses her experience as a WaGS major in "Meet the Young Feminists Who Make It Happen in Latin America and the Caribbean."  

After WGSS became a department in 2016,  Jessica Rybak (BA, 2013) sent us "some art to decorate" our office. She added, "I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for everything- myself and many of my closest friends would not be empowered to live our happiest lives without you all. Everything we've learned and experienced thru WST has stayed dear to our hearts and minds. Best wishes for 2017 and I miss you." See Jes's drawing (which is also featured on the banner of our front page) and message here
 
"WaGS has had a substantial impact with my professional experience because it applies to everything. I have approached situations more critically, utilizing different lenses to understand multiple sides of a complex issue in order to seek a solution. As a Team Leader for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, I am responsible for creating an all inclusive, safe environment and culture for young adults while serving diverse communities. I get to influence my people’s way of thinking and as a team we challenge intersecting oppressions and address systemic problems that create them on a daily basis. Majoring in WaGS is not a career choice, it’s a life choice; you choose to become an agent for change rather than a bystander."- Gül Berktas (BA, 2014)

Tayesha Saint Vil (BA, 2015) 
delivered a rousing speech to1,500 graduates at Stony Brook University’s 18th  annual December commencement ceremony in 2015. Tayesha encouraged her fellow graduates “to defy the laws of nature, to question everything, in moments of adversity explore all of your options, think outside of the box, apply for that position and when people say you can’t, say you will.” Tayesha is now pursuing a Masters in Public Health at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. Read full article. 

"Graduating with a BA in WaGS has been one of my greatest achievements . Being a part of an elite group of individuals that challenge the "norms" of our world has given me the ability to be conscious of feminism and all that it encompasses. The WaGS major is comprised of exceptional Professors whom are passionate and brilliant. Currently, I work in a corporate financial institution and volunteer as a mentor for a non profit organization. WaGS has provided me with the ability to embrace and emerge myself in diversity; Whether that be in corporate America, at a non profit organization, or going out on the weekends. Striving for liberation among gender, orientation, sexuality, race, education etc has allowed me to understand the importance of having an opinion about everything (politics, worklife, parenting, marriage, family, partnership, disease, disability and ability)."- Alyssa Kayel (BA, 2015)

"I chose to be a Women’s Studies major because it aligned extremely well with my interests as a first-generation student. I had close to no experience with Women’s Studies and feminism, and my decision to be a major was out of curiosity. The classes intrigued me, and I was able to meet and befriend students from very different backgrounds. I had never been privy to this type of environment and I constantly had my ideas and beliefs challenged.

 Through my work as a Women’s Studies major, I was able to complete a successful internship in Washington, D.C with the Feminist Majority Foundation. I worked with them to create feminist spaces on college campuses across the US. Women’s Studies is one of those majors that has extreme transferable skills to different industries after college. There are classes that intersect with literature, politics, healthcare, history, linguistics, and many other disciplines. Each class is unique and builds off the last. The classes are small and professors are very interested in student growth. My experience as an undergraduate Women’s Studies major was exactly what I had in mind for my years here and I cherished every minute in this dynamic space." - Lauren Fiore (BA, 2016

"I LOVE the Women's & Gender Studies major. I wish I had declared this earlier in my undergraduate career. I declared it towards the end of my sophomore year. In a logistical sense, this took care of a lot of DECs (or SBC's, as they're called now), a lot of courses are crosslisted with my other major (sociology), & I'm studying things I love & genuinely want to know more about. In a more heartfelt sense, the faculty truly care. Michelle Ho, Ritch Calvin, Nancy Hiemstra, among other greats, care about what they teach & how their students are. They want to share as much of their knowledge as possible while also challenging and encouraging their students to grow. Because we're a small department, I tend to see classmates repeatedly in various courses, and was able to easily befriend folks with the same interests as I. Simultaneously, another thing I love about the major is that I meet individuals with extremely diverse perspectives from me & I learn so much more. I'm fortunate to have the connections & knowledge I do through this program. After undergrad, I plan to get my Master's in Higher Ed in Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with an assistantship as an Assistant Hall Director. Thank you, Stony Brook, for an amazing education & experience!"- Jenn Islam (BA, 2016)

"My academic experience took an unexpected shift when I sat down in my first Women’s and Gender Studies class. I took the class (SOC/WST 340) to fulfill a requirement for another major; just this one class made me realize there was so much I did not know about the sacrifices and experiences many had to go through for us today to have basic human rights and freedoms. I knew that I wanted to learn more. I immediately altered my schedule for my senior year. Realizing it was too late to declare Women’s and Gender studies as a major (because I was already a junior), I made it my goal to fit it in as a minor before I graduated. My career goal is to become a social worker; through my major, psychology, I was able to understand human interactions and experiences through one lens, however my minor allowed me to look at different issues through various lenses. This is an interdisciplinary area that applies to everything you encounter in your daily life, whether you wish to pursue a career in science or arts, Women’s and Gender Studies will be of relevance in your day to day interactions. Having a wide variety of interesting classes to chose from and an amazing faculty to learn from, my experience as a Women’s and Gender Studies minor at Stony Brook has been nothing but collaborative and awakening."- Milena Sandoval (BA, 2016)

"I plan to leave this program with the knowledge of where the Women's Movement has come from and where it still has to go. I plan on going out into the world as an informed young man who knows that the fight for equity and equality can never cease. I plan to use the knowledge and the empowerment I have gained from my Women's and Gender Studies Minor to better myself and my peers. I'm so fortunate that I can proudly support the Women's Movement, unabashedly and with so much pride now that I have been given the tools to do so." - Adam Dimonaco, current student 

"As an undergraduate student, I find it important to pick a major that you are and/or become passionate about while in college. I didn't want to do what my other friends were doing for majors but a major that would build and propel me for further concentrated work in graduate school, particularly with social work. The Women’s and Gender Studies program at Stony Brook has a lot of diverse courses to choose from, works with other departments to have cross listed courses and provides a wide array of opportunities and major related events on campus and opportunities off campus, whether that be paid work, internships and/or volunteering. The Department also has extensive graduate programs. Additionally, being in the program has provided me the tool sets and skills to tackle relevant and complicated issues in our society. I'm very grateful and blessed to be at a school that has robust offerings in Women’s and Gender Studies classes, faculty and opportunities, including visiting professors who come to the university to teach classes within the field. Even when the semesters are not in session there are course offerings to get ahead and accelerate your program held online, in Manhattan and on campus. Lastly, being able to work with Ph.D. students in the department is awesome, and I love seeing the improvement in their teaching practices and research."- Jo Seck, current student

Minors: 

"My minor in Women's and Gender Studies (WaGS) allowed me to put my academic and personal interests into perspective. 
 
With its resources, curriculum, and amazing faculty, I was able to combine my passions for gender equality, women's and children's rights, and global health issues. I received tremendous support from all of my professors and learned important themes that have come up time and time again during my professional experiences. And now, 2 years after graduating, I am still following the passions that WaGS helped me discover.   
 
Currently, I am working in development for Keep a Child Alive, a global health organization, and in the summer of 2016 I will be traveling to Hong Kong as a Humanitarian Affairs Delegate for the Harvard Project on Asian and International Relations, allowing me to bring the topics that I've learned at Stony Brook and beyond onto a global stage with hundreds of other young leaders." -Nicole Bustamante (Health Science, Public Health concentration, 2014)
 
"If I could pick one word to describe WaGS, it would be 'interdisciplinary.' Being a Psychology Major with 3 minors, I found that WaGS was the perfect glue that meld together all of my experiences and research. The professors in the WaGS Department are truly leaders of the Seawolves Pack. Not only are they experts in their respective fields, they also possess a thorough knowledge which spans a wide range of other disciplines. WaGS is a colorful springboard for exciting classroom discussion as well as constructing and analyzing a multitude of theories. My senior thesis in WaGS was the capstone and highlight of my tenure at SBU... Last year, I was asked to give a TED Talk for TEDxSBUWomen, I was selected to present my senior thesis at the SBU Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) Symposium, and at my most current university I was asked to give a lecture for a Psychology of Women class. The WaGS department goes above and beyond with providing you with opportunities before, during, and after your time as a student at SBU." - Angelo Lambroschino (Psychology, 2015)
 
"After taking several Women's and Gender Studies classes at Stony Brook, I've developed a well-rounded sense of modern politics and social issues. The literature presented by my professors has proven that media cannot always be taken at face value, and the perspectives of  all people--including marginalized groups--must be taken into account when considering the state of the world. These classes have compensated for the historic silencing of groups that deserve listening to, including not only women, but the queer community, people of color, and those of lower socioeconomic statuses, as well. As a bisexual female, WaGS classes--including my supportive peers and professors--have helped me develop pride in my identity, and have fueled my passion to be an ally to those whose voices must be heard."- Shelby Broderick (Psychology, 2016)
 
"A minor in Women's Studies is not of minor importance. For me, the Women's Studies minor has enforced a constant state of questioning, a refusal to accept social norms as they stand, and the skills of critical analysis within my daily life. Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary subject that encompasses history, reading, writing, art, science, and even mathematics. This minor has brought me nothing but pleasure. It has allowed me to develop the necessary tools for understanding intersecting perspectives and experiences as they relate to sex, gender, class, race, religion, ability, and size. I walk away from this university a mathematician, but I also walk away a proud feminist." - Kristen Kalb (Mathematicas, 2016)

 

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