Archive | Student Spotlights

Student Spotlight: Tanner Crunelle

We sat down with WGS and English double-major Tanner Crunelle to talk about his passions, his work with I-CAN, and his involvement in activism on campus and beyond.

Why did you chose to study WGS? 

I chose to study WGST because of a few reasons. One, all the WGST professors — or at least those who consistently thought about race, gender, sexuality, and oppression — seemed to be my favorite. I also found a lot of WGST coursework both on accident and at a crossroads in my life. After dropping my education major, I had to take stock of what brought me joy. It’s destroying and rebuilding things like gender, I’ve come to find, through language, and direct action. All while clarifying new ways of relating to people along the way. tanner headshot

What areas/aspects of WGS you find most engaging/interesting/what you’re most passionate about? 

There is immense joy in thinking culturally, which means also across traditional boundaries of disciplines in academe. Much of my work is in reading cultural texts of many forms against the tendency to be skeptical, stingy, pessimistic reader and is dissatisfied with disciplinary logics of argumentation, representation, production. What would it mean for the things we read and study to give us joy and show possibilities, rather than dampen our spirits with claims to “truth?” I think this is a theoretical and conceptual problem, but one intimately tied to our ability to actually enact these possibilities through our various activisms. WGS coursework allows for that exploration.

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations

In January, I’ll start a certification program to become a yoga teacher. I recently saw a tweet about how the pain we have inside us, how we can’t sit on it, that we can and therefore must channel it into healing others. With our queer bodies facing unprecedented violence in this modern age, self-care must be thought of as a matter of survival. Figuring out our own boundaries so we can be love generously. Nourishing our flesh so we can carry on doing the things it allows us to do. Rewriting the very basis of how we think about nonviolence, locating it in ourselves and in our muscles, tendons, blood, bone, marrow, our every last sinew. Through this teaching, I look forward to becoming even more deeply connected to Charleston as my home, and my LGBTQ+ siblings working tirelessly in addressing our place-based trauma. In addition, I have various on-campus projects coming from the Intersectional Cougar Action Network (I-CAN), which is a coalition of minoritized students demanding a more just CofC campus, and from Out Front, which aims to foster queer community and support queer students at CofC through various directed initiatives and interventions into institutional policy and programming. I also chair the student planning committee for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) upcoming Diversity Equity and Student Success conference.

Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate? 

Being able to call in a variety of seemingly unrelated sources and perspectives, and having faculty nourish this tendency of mine, has been the most formative trend across WGST faculty. But I wouldn’t know that was something I could do safely, and have it be appreciated, had I not taken a WGST class. So try one–and experiment. Do all of the reading! Ask lots of questions! Make a fool of yourself! It will pay dividends in your personal life, enrich your thinking in other classes, and give you a lot of great concepts to work with for the rest in whatever careers you end up in.

What are you plans post-graduation? And how will you take what you’ve learned in WGS with you once you’re no longer a student here?

Most likely, I will next spend some time traveling the world and teaching English in Europe. Then I will start with my PhD. I knew I was good at school, but I couldn’t see myself as an author, as someone authorized to speak and write with authority, until the WGST coursework I pursued and advisors I worked with at CofC. There’s nothing scarier to The System than someone who knows where they’re going, why they’re there, and how they’re going to overthrow whatever the current regime may be. I think I have lots of those tools now, and a powerful analytic to bring to all the conversations I’m a part of.

Student Spotlight: Kristen Graham

We sat down with WGS and Public Health double-major Kristen Graham to talk about how she came to study WGS, what areas of WGS she’s most passionate about, and her work with I-CAN.Kristen Graham

First off, why did you choose to major in WS?

I chose to major in WGS because I knew my own intersections within my identity and I wanted to expand beyond my own understanding to help other black women fight the systematic oppression that has been trying to silence us. I thought this major would pair well with my public health major to focus on the policies and mistreatments plague black women and women of color in our country.

What areas/aspects of WGS you find most engaging or interesting? Or, what WGS-related issues are most passionate about?

I am most passionate about Black Feminists Theory and Queer Theory. As a black Pansexual woman I’ve started my journey to being proud of all of my identities through the critical thinking WGS classes and professors have helped me gain.

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.

I am apart of the coalition Intersectional Cougar Action Network (I-CAN). Our purpose is to organize and collaborate with students throughout multicultural and marginalized communities. We strive to uplift student voices throughout those communities by directly contacting administrators and faculty to address the harms we face. I am now I-CAN’s Curriculum Committee chair. I m also representing I-CAN and what we stand for on the QEP committee with SLI and the Ad Hoc curriculum committee addressing diversity concerns. As well as volunteering with the Elizabeth Warren campaign.

Why should every student take a WGS class before they graduate?

I believe WGS classes aide one to think critical of gender, sexuality, race, class and other social identities. I think every person on campus should understand how our social identities have impacted the way our nation’s history has been taught, as well as the way in which structural and cultural systems are still impacted today. It’s a lot deeper than personal biases, and students should take at least two courses to enrich their understanding of diversity, intersectionality, and equity.

What are your plans post-graduation, and how do you plan to take what you’ve learned in WGS with you moving forward?

I’ve really been considering working at an NGO or as a lobbyist after I graduate. I really want to effect positive change in our federal and local policies that reflect diverse population in which it governs. I especially want to advocate for Black women and the LGBTQ+ by using the connections and materials I’ve gained through my WGS classes. Mostly I want to dare to defy the restrictive culture norms society has placed on us by simply being my Queer self, changing and challenging what leadership even looks like in these spaces.

Student Spotlight: Jasmine Tindall

We sat down with WGS and Religious Studies double-major Jasmine Tindall to talk about how she came to study WGS, and what areas of WGS she’s most passionate about.Jasmine headshot

First off, why did you choose to major in WS?

I chose to study WGS because it’s fueled my passion for social justice. It’s provided me with a foundation for understanding the root cause of different oppressions, which I think is the first step to making a better life for all.

What areas/aspects of WGS you find most engaging or interesting? Or, what WGS-related issues are most passionate about?

I’m a double major in Religious Studies so a lot of my interests are focused on women’s roles and influences in religion. I’m really fascinated by the extent to which religion has not only reflected basic cultural assumptions about gender but has in turn helped shape, reinforce, and modify those expectations in today’s society.

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.

On campus I spend a lot of time with incoming freshmen working as a Peer Facilitator and I’m a member of the Pre-Law Society. Some local activism I’ve enjoyed participating in is volunteering at Planned Parenthood and attending Charleston pride, as well as the Women’s March in DC. I’m looking forward to applying my passion for WGS at my internship in Rwanda and Uganda this summer! I’ll be working with local NGOs on socio-political health issues and studying different topics like psychology from social change & negotiating resources and gender in civic spaces.

Why should every student take a WGS class before they graduate?

There’s a common misconception that women & gender is for the sole benefit of women and women’s rights. I’d encourage anyone to take a WGS course because you’re actively opposing intersectional oppression, critically reviewing and learning how to see things from a multitude of angles, the field inevitably expands into other areas where oppression is highly present such as racism, sexism, exploitation and class difference.

What are your plans post-graduation, and how do you plan to take what you’ve learned in WGS with you moving forward?

Post-graduation I see myself continuing my studies of WGS in grad school to complete my masters and doctorate. One day I hope to pursue a career in academia as a feminist scholar. My dreams include but are not limited to: teaching abroad, publishing contributive research and writings within the WGS realm, and of course hosting my own TED Talks!

WGS Student Spotlight: Raegan Whiteside

We sat down with WGS and English double-major Raegan Whiteside to talk about her experiences leading Literati (the CofC English club), how she came to study WGS, and what areas of WGS she’s most passionate about.

First off, why did you choose to major in WS?

I chose to major in WGS after my first WGS class – Feminism and Jiu-Jitsu (taught by Dr. Kristi Brian). I left that class each day feeling empowered and free. I was surrounded by unique, powerful, independent and different women and yet we all had the common goal of supporting and lifting each other up. We formed a community. That’s why I chose to major in WGS, because I loved that feeling of community and lifting up others, of empowerment and acceptance and WGS Department is the only place I have found that consistently. Raegan headshot

What areas/aspects of WGS you find most engaging or interesting? Or, what WGS-related issues are most passionate about?

I think many of us are in WGS because we are passionate about equal rights and empowering others, especially minority groups. But I think the diversity found in WGS – in the faculty and students, the courses and topics discussed or even the events – is what I find most interesting and what excites me.

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.

After my WGS internship ended at skirt. magazine, they offered me two paid positions – Freelance Writer and Magazine Distributor. I’m also the Co-President of Literati (the CofC English club), and a Humanities and Social Sciences Ambassador. When I’m not in class or working on any of those activities, I work at Buxton Bookstore here downtown.

What does being a WGS student mean to you, and why do you think it’s important that we study WGS?

WGS, for me, means community and acceptance (like I mentioned before). I think, in our society today, it’s easy to get caught up in being something you’re not and losing sight of what matters. But, with WGS, I’m always able to be completely myself and WGS challenges me to do better, fight for what I’m passionate about and not shy away when things get difficult.

I think every CofC student should take a WGS class before they graduate because we are in the 21st century and it’s time to quit denying the obvious — that we need change and we need equality and we need everyone on board. WGS is for those who are ready for change, but also for those who want to learn more, for those who want to challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zone and actually make a difference in our community, society and culture.

Student Spotlight: Meshauna Dwight

We sat down with WGS and Sociology double-major Meshauna Dwight to talk about her experiences as this year’s Alison Piepmeier Scholarship recipient, her work volunteering with Educating Girls on the Go (EGO), and why she loves studying WGS.Meshauna Headshot

What does being this year’s Alison Piepmeier Scholarship recipient mean to you?

I was happy to learn about the endeavors and achievements of Alison Piepmeier while she was alive, and it is an honor to pick up her torch in solidarity for social justice.

What aspects of WGS or WGS-related areas of interest are you most passionate about?

I decided to declare Women’s and Gender Studies as one of my majors because, to me, WGS embodies effort towards social justice. Social justice in every area is what I am passionate about because I believe that all corners of the globe should be beautiful places for everyone no matter what their differences are, and societies should work towards being as close to a meritocracy as possible.

What upcoming projects or classes in WGS are you most looking forward to?

The class that I am most looking forward to is SOCY 362: The Sociology of Social Change. I read lots of books and watch lots of movies with dystopian themes in the hopes of getting a glimpse of a roadmap to influencing positive social change. Hopefully, this class will help to answer some of my questions.

Are you currently engaged in any activism in the greater Charleston community? If so, tell us about it!

I am mostly involved with this small, up-and-coming organization called Educating Girls on the Go, or EGO. It was started by Nathalia Mateus, a former residential assistant at a group home in North Charleston, called Jenkins Institute for Children. Having first-hand experience with the foster care system opened her eyes to how broken it is and she wanted to become an advocate. We have been speaking with policy-makers, community leaders, and other organizations based in and outside of South Carolina for three years now in an effort to reform South Carolina’s foster care system. We now plan to get involved with the Department of Children’s Advocacy, which has only just been established in the beginning of July. This new organization will provide oversight for South Carolina’s Department of Social Services to make sure that all youth in foster care are actually receiving the many services that they have a right to while in DSS custody. The staggering amount of foster care youth that age out of the system only to become homeless were often never even made aware of the resources that they are entitled to.

WGS Student Spotlight: Zoë Murrie

We sat down with WGS and Communication double-major Zoë Murrie to talk about her experiences as this year’s Skirt. Magazine Endowed Scholarship recipient, her work with SafeZone and CisternYard, and why she loves studying WGS.Zoe Murrie Headshot

First off, why WGS? Why did you choose to declare your WGS major?

“I chose to major in WGS because I think the courses and faculty give an overview of the history of injustices and power imbalances from an intersectional lens that no other department does. WGS also offers tools for fixing these issues with real life applicable activist skills and helps create students who are capable of thinking out problems and developing thoughtful opinions and solutions.”

What are some topics you’ve covered in your WGS classes that you’re particularly passionate about?

“Within WGS I found myself most engaged when I get to really talk through problems. Hearing from Professors, who are often themselves gender-based activists, as well as peers really allows me to see an issue from every side and helps me develop an opinion. I truly think this is unique to WGS. While it can be discouraging to discuss modern injustices, it’s necessary for remedying them.”

Talk to us about your work with SafeZone / MSPS. You were paired with SafeZone through your WGS internship, correct?

“Yes. Last spring I was matched with Lynda Keller the assistant director of MSPS and leader of Safe Zone on campus, thanks to the WGS department. Through Safe Zone I have realized not only the importance of LGBTQ+ education on campus, but have learned so much about education, activism and open conversation as a whole. When someone is given the space and respect to learn about people who are different from them, or even get to see themselves represented in a conversation, they really do open up so much. Working with Safe Zone has encouraged more activism within my career aspirations and has shown me that on a micro level people are interested in being educated about issues they don’t face and understanding each other.”

What does it mean to you to be this year’s Skirt. Magazine Endowed Scholarship recipient?

“I am so excited and honored to be the Skirt! recipient. I remember my mom reading skirt when I was a child and I was always so interested in the idea of a complex, multifaceted magazine for women. I am currently the Managing Editor of CisternYard News, our student run publication on campus. As a writer and editor I try to create pieces that question societal norms and show women as complex beings. After college, I would love to work for a woman’s interest magazine and continue to make connections between socio-political status, women’s issues and women’s rights.”

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