Kayo Denda (MA Alumnae '10)
As women’s studies librarian doing collection development and working as liaison with the WGS community at Rutgers, I always felt a professional responsibility to evaluate how library resources and services are (or are not) useful for feminist investigations. Aside from intellectual curiosity and a desire to challenge myself, I started the M.A. Program because I felt that embedding myself in the classrooms was the best way to achieve my goal, while getting to know more about the community I worked with. I certainly was not disappointed! I cannot express enough my gratitude to every faculty member whose course I took, as each one of them welcomed me in their classrooms. The class lectures/discussions provided me with opportunities to familiarize myself with faculty research directly and to get to know my fellow classmates and their research interests. The insights I gained are truly valuable in my librarianship, as I can now apply them in strategies regarding building collections and designing specific services. When time finally came to think about practicum or a thesis (I was a very part-time student), I decided to do a practicum that was relevant to my work. I examined the pamphlet collections from Guyana and Brazil from the /Latin American Twentieth Century Pamphlets/ collection at Rutgers Libraries. My practicum report was titled “Archival Resources Reimagined: a Feminist Examination of the /Latin American Twentieth Century Pamphlets/.” I received wonderful guidance from Carlos Decena and Yana Rodgers, my practicum committee members, and especially from my esteemed and dear adviser, Nancy Hewitt, who continued to advise me from the other side of the Atlantic during her leave.
Julie Ann Salthouse (MA Alumnae '09)
One of the best decisions of my life so far has been to go back to school for my MA in Women’s and Gender Studies. After earning my BA in English and teaching language arts for a year, I knew that I wanted to continue working with young adults, but wanted a stronger background in women’s studies (my minor in college) to develop my knowledge and professional experience. In one of my first courses, “Feminism(s): Theory and Practice” with Dr. Cheryl Clarke, I was introduced to girls’ studies, and my passion for this field was encouraged and supported by my professors and fellow students throughout my degree.
While a graduate student, I had the opportunity to work with many amazing feminists on a range of projects, including as a graduate research assistant at Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and with the staff at the Institute for Women’s Leadership, through which I completed research for my MA thesis.
Knowing that I wanted to continue working with girls, I networked with some of my women’s and gender studies professors and through my thesis advisor, Dr. Joanna Regulska, was connected with Girls Learn International, where I have been working as Chapter Director since August 2008. Since July 2008, I have also served as Production Editor for Films for the Feminist Classroom, a new online journal that developed from the Signs journal office and that has given me more experience as a writer and editor. From this experience, I have most recently begun freelance writing for a new web-based girls’ organization in Florida, and look forward to continuing to stretch my interests and connect with more feminist activists and scholars.
In sum, my master’s degree in women’s and gender studies has proven to be an invaluable tool in the professional world. I feel firmly connected with a wide range of people, places, and organizations doing inspiring work that I find challenging and highly fulfilling. I am grateful for the opportunity to study in the WGS department, and am incredibly happy with what I have been able and will continue to do with my degree.
Lana Sacks (MA Alumnae '09)
I currently work as the Events and Membership Coordinator at In The Life Media (New York City), an LGBT media production company with a monthly television program, IN THE LIFE, on public television. My experience in the Women’s and Gender Studies MA program provided me with the background knowledge on representations of gender and sexuality in the media that I needed to understand the concerns and issues facing the LGBT community, which I serve.
The WGS MA has also opened several academic doors. I have been accepted to several conferences and will soon have a published paper on masculinity and popular music.
I also teach the Women's Leadership course, Knowledge and Power, to Douglass Residential College first-year students.
Nathalie Margi (MA Alumnae '09)
I certainly got a lot out of my experience at Rutgers and am thankful for the opportunities the WGS MA offered me. I finished my MA in January 2009. My main interests, both before I started the program and today, pertain to global issues and women's human rights. One of the main reasons I was attracted to the WGS program at Rutgers was the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL), which is very much aligned with my interests.
During my studies, I did an internship there, and had the opportunity to meet many women's rights and human rights activists from around the world. I also attended the annual Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in 2007 and 2008. This was an inspiring and enriching experience, and reinforced my passion for international advocacy and organizing. I also interned at the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) in New York, and did my MA practicum with a women's rights NGO in Lebanon. After I graduated, I worked with CWGL and WEDO and I am currently working at CWGL. Some of the most valuable aspects of the MA program for me were these opportunities to acquire practical experience in the field I was most interested in and meet prominent people like Charlotte Bunch, who provided me with guidance, mentoring and invaluable connections.
Ingrid Dahl (MA Alumnae '05)
I think that having an MA in Women's & Gender Studies is really important and necessary. It also can get you a job that isn't necessarily in the field, but lends itself to insight in many other fields that don't have a grasp on gender-related issues. My degree led me into a series of possible career moves, from working as a consultant to a foundation, to touring in an all-girl band, to becoming a founding member of a rock camp for girls in Brooklyn, NY, to my current position as a program officer of youth media at the Academy for Educational Development in NY, NY.
I am also the Editor-in-Chief of Youth Media Reporter www.youthmediareporter.org, a professional multi-media journal that documents the best practices of teaching young people to make media for social change.
Through and outside my position at AED, I'm also the go-to person for gender issues, women's leadership, and queer media literacy. I've lectured at Barnard College, Rutgers, Cuny, and universities in Germany and the Netherlands. I've given multiple workshops on voice, visibility, women's leadership and eradicating homophobia at conferences around the U.S. and work with organizations that want to document/advocate for gender-specific media making and literacy, with a feminist agenda at heart.
Because W&GS is so multi-disciplinary, it is very attractive to employers, not just to specific careers in academia or in non-profits, or foundations like 3rd Wave, Astrea, Ms., etc.
It's really the scope that a person who receives this degree gains, and sure, the theory helps. But I'd go for building community within the department and with allies outside of W&GS. I don't think graduate students focused on that enough when I was at the program, which is unfortunate since we are a powerful network possibility still in its incubation phase. I still keep in touch with IWL and that ought to be brought in a bit more, along with all the centers, in supporting graduate students. I know there is already work to do this cohesively, but there's always more we can do. And at the University level, we have to move faster because the world outside of it is, in some areas, rapidly growing and other social spaces desperately need us to branch out.
Sana Khsheiboun (MA Alumnae '05)
I would like to share my Women’s and Gender studies experience at Rutgers University. For more than fifteen years, I worked as the Executive Director of an organization that provided services for elderly Palestinians in the Galilee and developed new community services. At one point I felt a strong need to make a change in my career and I applied for the Humphrey Fellowship Program in the summer of 2002. My application was accepted and I made my way to Rutgers University in the fall of 2003 and started my Humphrey year.
During the fellowship year I focused on women’s Human Rights and had the privilege to meet Professor Charlotte Bunch and to be one of her students. Being a student at the Women’s and Gender studies department in one course was a great experience that made me want to learn more about these issues. I applied to the Masters program at the department and Professor Mary Hawkesworth helped me achieve my wish and I was accepted for a one year Masters program in the year 2004-2005.
Although the studies at the department were challenging and demanding it was a great learning experience for me. I gained new knowledge on gender and women’s issues. Moreover, meeting with different students from different cultures was an excellent opportunity for me personally and academically. Exploring new theories and be part of open discussions at the classes helped me see things in different ways and moved me to be more critical towards the inequality in the world in general and around me in specific, and I decided to do something with my new experience and knowledge when I go back home.
I came back home after graduating from the program in 2005 and returned to my previous job. It didn’t take me long to decide to quit my job and change my whole career. In 2007 I applied to PhD studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a well known feminist Palestinian professor, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian that agreed to be my PhD supervisor. Since then I worked as research assistant and as a gender and women’s program coordinator that Dr. Shalhoub-Kevorkian had established in a research center. I worked as acting director of a shelter for battered women and their children in the Palestinian community in Israel. For the last two years I was the Executive Director of the Young Women Christian Association in East Jerusalem and established a gender unit that is working on gender mainstreaming of the association and the programs provided by it in addition to raise the awareness of the Palestinian community of Jerusalem on gender equality and women’s human rights. I quit this job in the end of September 2009 to focus on my research and studies.
Today I am working on my research “The Meaning of Home and the Impact of its Loss on the Palestinian Family in East Jerusalem” that aims at mapping and analyzing the significance of home and the subsequent impact of its loss following the violent act of house demolition, on Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. I am now conducting interviews with families who lost their homes and will start soon to analyze the stories.
I was honored and lucky to publish my first article with Dr. Shalhoub-Kevorkian on the perception of Palestinian women regarding the role of human rights organizations that are active in Jerusalem “Palestinian women's voices challenging human rights activism” that was published in the latest volume of Women's Studies International Forum 32 (2009) 354–362.
In addition I will work as a research assistant with Dr. Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Dr. Dafna Golan with their new research on "Community Engaged Courses as a Vehicle for Peace building".
In the end, I would say that my studies at the Women’s and Gender studies department have enhanced my skills, widened my knowledge and encouraged me to change my career towards women’s development jobs and academic work and have opened new venues and opportunities for me. I am grateful and lucky to be one of the gender and women’s studies department at Rutgers and hope to revisit it again in order to explore new knowledge and to meet more special feminists.
Suzanne Grossman (MA Alumnae '04)
I graduated with an MA in Women's and Gender Studies in 2004 having completed a practicum in Dublin at the Irish Family Planning Association. I continued on at Rutgers at the Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL) for two years with the undergraduate Leadership Scholars Program. At this time, I collaborated with a fellow graduate student, Ingrid Hu Dahl, and a group of women musicians in New York City to found the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a music camp for girls ages 8 to 18 that incorporates feminist principles.
My degree and work at the IWL helped me continue on the path of women's leadership development. As a result, I worked at the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization founded by Naomi Wolf that runs leadership retreats for women. I followed this by serving as the Interim Executive Director of a foundation that provides scholarships to women called the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women. I am now working at the College of Staten Island (CUNY) in their career development office where I teach a career development class to undergraduates. More recently, I founded a blog and company with several women including Rutgers WGS alumna Alyssa Best called LYJ (Love Your Job), Love Your Life. Through this I developed a multi-week class for women jobseekers in NYC, teaching them the skills they need to find work they love.
I credit my graduate degree in Women's and Gender Studies with setting me on the path toward meaningful work in the field of women's leadership development. I met so many wonderful people at Rutgers who I have collaborated with and who I know are life long friends, mentors and colleagues. I began the program with a background in reproductive rights activism but knew I wanted to move away from that. The program helped opened the door to other possibilities within the field of women's advocacy in new and inspiring ways. I'm extremely grateful for my degree and for choosing Rutgers over other programs in the area.
Carolina Núñez Puente (MA Alumnae '02)
My name is Carolina Núñez Puente and I graduated with a Master’s degree in W&GS in 2002. I had already started a PhD program in Spain, my home country, which I interrupted to come to Rutgers. After graduating here, I returned home to finish my PhD. I now have a postdoctoral position in the English Deparment at the University of La Coruña, Spain. It would take me a long time to write about what I learnt at W&GS-Rutgers...
One of the most important things I learnt was to develop my skills for critical thinking/reading. Feminists need to practice the philosophy of suspicion and/or read with an “oblique look” to use Silvia Moloi’s phrase. Developing this skill does not only help you in your career but also in everyday life. As for my own career, my goal after completing my MA was to continue with my PhD, since I wanted to become a university professor. At Rutgers I wrote a thesis under the guidance of Professor Ben. Sifuentes-Jáuregui. This thesis was the germ of my doctoral dissertation, which I have already published in the shape of a book: Feminism and Dialogics: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Meridel Le Sueur, Mikhail M. Bakhtin. Valencia: PUV, 2006.
After completing my PhD I have done research and taught in different places. I have been a fellow at the John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien at Freie Universität (Berlin). I also was a post-doctoral professor and fellow in the Bakhtin Centre at the Univ. of Sheffield, where I taught my first graduate seminars on Feminism and Gender Studies. Among the courses I offer in my current Department in Spain, I teach a graduate “Introduction to Gender and Feminist Theories and Practices.” I also tutor graduate projects dealing broadly with “The ‘Feminist Question’ in Literature and/or Cinema.” I am currently working on a book-project on feminism, ethnicity, and ecocriticism in contemporary US women writers. Finally, to the question “What can I do with a Women’s and Gender Studies degree?” I would answer, “What can you not? You can do anything you want and go as far as you plan to.”
Brielle Danese (BA alumnae '09)
I graduated in May 2009 with a BA in Women's and Gender Studies and found a job a few weeks after graduation. I now work for the University in the English Department full time (not WGS related). However, I still work part time as a Client Advocate at SAFE in Hunterdon, a non-profit agency in New Jersey that aids women and children who have been affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.
Having a women's studies background enhanced my resume in the interview process, as I was viewed as an applicant who could not only understand clients on a human level, but also relate to clients by understanding the systemic and societal processes that surrounded them and brought them to where they were. With a women's studies degree, I brought to the table an academic understanding of the issues facing the women I would be working with, which has shown in my experiences with clients to be educational and insightful. This degree coupled with my BA in Psychology really helped me to find a position in the social services.
Alexis Finc (BA alumnae '04)
I graduated from Douglass College in 2004 with a degree in English and Women's and Gender Studies, a minor in Art History and a certificate in Women's Leadership from IWL. After graduation, I worked in the publishing world as a freelance writer, but also as editor and community producer for gURL.com, a fun, feminist teen website (owned by NBC Universal at the time). It was great experience and when I was applying for editorial positions in NYC, my Women's Studies degree (as well as my previous internships), really allowed me to stand out from the rest of the candidate pool.
After working for gURL.com for about four years, I decided to return to school to get my MFA in Creative Writing, poetry genre. I am currently in my second year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (a three year program) and working on my first poetry collection. What a change of location!
I think Women's and Gender Studies lends itself extremely well to the writing, publishing, and journalism fields. It provides you with a different lens than most graduates and I think employers are impressed by someone who has spent a lot of time thinking critically about gender issues, which are really human issues.
If I could make a recommendation to any college student today, I would say DO INTERNSHIPS. Do many of them. Don't complain about running for coffee. Be willing to put yourself out there. The skills you gain on an internship will put you far ahead of the other students when you graduate--and you never know where the networking you do at those sites will get you.