What is your hometown, your pronouns, and your major(s)/minor(s)?
My name is Marissa Haynes, and my pronouns are she/her. I grew up in a suburb outside of Philadelphia called Newtown, Pennsylvania. At The College, I am a Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies double major and a Spanish minor.
What areas/aspects of gender activism and/or advocacy for women and girls you find most engaging/interesting/what you’re most passionate about?
Sexual assault awareness is an area of gender activism that I have found myself engaging with most in recent years. The empowerment of women and queer peoples has become a part of my calling. Self defense, for example, is about way more than just learning how to defend yourself physically. It is about challenging a culture that has normalized the constant violation and antagonism of the bodies of women and LGBTQIA+ folx. Another area of advocacy that I am passionate about is the protection and education of children, specifically children from families of a low socioeconomic status and/or who experience marginalization. Children are arguably the most vulnerable members of our society, and as such deserve better than to have decisions made on their behalf that do not prioritize their safety and well-being.
Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.
One of my favorite things that I get to do is being the teaching assistant for the Jiu Jitsu for Self Defense class at the College. In this class, we teach students how to defend themselves using the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu, which is a martial art that emphasizes the use of leverage and physics to overcome an opponent instead of brute force or striking. As the teacher’s assistant, I am able to incorporate Feminist theory into each lesson in order to combat rape culture and empower our students emotionally and mentally, as well as physically. I am also currently interning with an organization called Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) to help them upstart a national podcast called “Feminist Intersections.” As another part of this internship, I am currently working to launch a Women’s and Gender Studies podcast here at The College through which we hope generate important feminist conversations by highlighting the members of our WGS community here in Charleston who are doing important activist work and encouraging those in our community who want to know what they could do to help.
What impact did your WGS course have on you? and/or: Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate?
My academic career in WGS has pushed me to ask and begin to answer difficult questions about the functionality of society as we know it and my role in it. I truly believe in the power of a WGS education to make students not only productive members of society but constructive ones: instilling in students the tools to approach the real world issues that they will inevitably face post-grad and to make effective change in the world around them.
What does being a Ketner scholar mean to you?
It has been an absolute honor to be named a Ketner scholar. This scholarship has simultaneously fostered my passion for activism and provided me with the space and resources to step outside of my comfort zone to advance my potential for changemaking. It has meant the world to me to receive the support that this scholarship has offered me, and it will act as a jumping off point for all of my future activism and professional endeavors.
What are your plans and goals after graduation?
After graduation, I have goals to use my majors and minor to enter the social services and fight for those too often forgotten in the heightened political, economic, and social discussions throughout our country and the world: children. Specifically, I want to put my efforts into improving the child welfare system in ways that will provide better support and more effective systems that prioritize keeping families together in order to proactively and sustainably assist children in need. I’d like to someday earn a PhD in Sociology, and later in life, I hope to return to academia as a professor and mentor.