Tag Archives | college of charleston

Student Spotlight: Mo Spragins

What is your hometown, your pronouns, and your major(s)/minor(s)?Portrait of WGS major, Mo Spragins

I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC. Both of my parents met at NC State University and settled in Raleigh. My pronouns are She/They. Currently I am a double major! Women’s and Gender Studies (BA) is one of them and the other is Biology (BA).

What areas/aspects of women’s and gender studies (WGS) do you find most engaging/interesting/what are you most passionate about? 

I find everything under the Women’s and Gender Studies program here fascinating. If I had to pick one topic, it would be Black feminism. I am currently reading “This Bridge Called My Back” and I feel that I have learned so much about the history of the feminist movement, which has not always supported or upheld all women, specifically Black women and people of color. The feminist movement historically has focused on a lot of white women’s wants and needs without acknowledging their innate privilege of being white — without taking a step back for Black women to take the stage.

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

Currently on campus, I am pursuing conducting research with Dr. Arroyo over the summer and possibly another opportunity with my mentor on campus.

I am also a student worker at the Pride Center on 9 1/2 Glebe Street. At the Pride Center, I am the Q’rdinator of the Honors Engaged program that is partnered with the center and Honors College. I supervise student tasks, their volunteer hours, and events that the Pride Center hosts for the Queer community (although not exclusively if any others want to participate!). Along with that, I help Dr. Simmons with the Out To Lead program.

Outside of campus, I am a volunteer at MUSC’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and recently reached my goal of 100 volunteer hours. I am continuing my volunteer work there until I can secure a position as a patient care technician.

What impact have WGS courses had on you? and/or: Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate?

The WGST courses on campus have had such a huge impact on my life. My first class was Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies taught by Dr. Dominguez. The least I can say about that course was how eye-opening things became for me during and afterward. When I came to campus my first year, I was strictly a Biology BS major and was headed on a narrow pre-health tract. I attended a majors/minors fair that was held by the Honors College, which is when Dr. Dominguez and I first met. Dr. Dominguez understood that I want to be the kind of physician who listens to others and their needs; not excluding their past experiences and story. I want to look at things through an intersectional lens, and the field of Women’s and Gender Studies helps me to do so. I have met so many wonderful people along the way who have been so supportive of me. Lastly, Dr. Dominguez helped foster such a safe community in the classroom in which we could make mistakes and learn from one another. This gave me the confidence to come out as Queer, and I couldn’t be any more grateful. Truly. Thank you Dr. D.

What are your plans and goals after graduation?

Even though graduation is still a ways away from me, I have always had a passion for working with children, and I hope to do so as a pediatrician. More specifically as a physician assistant (PA) specializing in pediatrics.

I plan to apply to a few graduate PA programs, one at MUSC and one at UNC Chapel Hill.

Ultimately I hope to find calm in all of the chaos that is life and keep my center — my core values and defining memories — tightly against me. Hopefully, somewhere in there I get married and have a few kids of my own, but I can wait on that bit for now.

2023 HSS Scholar: Taylor McElwain

Taylor McElwain

WGS is excited to share our HSS Scholars! 🎉 Our other scholar is Taylor McElwain!

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Scholars Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates the top two students in each of the 11 undergraduate major programs within HSS. Faculty, students, family and friends gather to celebrate our scholars – students who’ve achieved an exemplary academic performance during their time at the College of Charleston.

From Taylor:

Educational Highlights: During my time at the College, I was awarded the Outstanding First Year Writing Award for my essay on Iraqi refugees in Mosul. My most significant projects include research papers examining the differences in the use of sexual violence by militant groups, the implications of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s ruling that rape is a weapon of genocide, and how former colonial powers have enabled genocides in order to protect their economic interests. I’ve served as an intern for the nonprofits Enough Pie and the Charleston Climate Coalition as well as working as a research intern with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. Most recently, I worked as a refugee resettlement intern with Lutheran Services Carolinas. My poetry has been featured in the College’s literary magazine, Miscellany.

Research Focus: My research focuses include the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon during times of conflict and genocide, as well as a focus on the field of genocide studies, with emphasis on the Biafran genocide, the Rwandan genocide, and the Holocaust.

Future Plans: I plan to work in victim advocacy and women’s empowerment. I’ve been looking at jobs in Ukraine that would allow me to use both my Russian and my expertise on issues of gendered violence.

2023 HSS Scholar: Sarai Vazquez

Sarai Vazquez

WGS is excited to share our HSS Scholars! 🎉 Our first scholar is Sarai Vazquez!

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Scholars Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates the top two students in each of the 11 undergraduate major programs within HSS. Faculty, students, family and friends gather to celebrate our scholars – students who’ve achieved an exemplary academic performance during their time at the College of Charleston.

From Sarai:
Educational Highlights: When starting at the College of Charleston, I had no idea I would end up majoring in Women’s & Gender Studies. Though I didn’t declare my major until my junior year, it has since allowed me to understand my identity as well as the wisdom I will bring to the table as I navigate the world after graduation. At CofC, I have volunteered at the “”Yes! I’m a Feminist”” event and been a member of the Hispanic Latino Club. The wonderful community of WGS has both challenged me and encouraged me to view the world with an interdisciplinary perspective.

Research Focus: I have had the opportunity to complete an internship through Tri-County SPEAKS, a sexual assault advocacy and resource center. As an outreach intern, I was part of the team leading the Bar Outreach Project. Our mission was to educate and introduce training to the personnel of many Charleston bars on sexual assault and its prominence within the bar atmosphere. I have also served as a volunteer advocate accompanying survivors at MUSC for exams and working the 24HR hotline.
This internship has confirmed my passion to advocate for intersectional healthcare and to serve the disadvantaged.

Future Plans: My goal after graduating from the College of Charleston is to continue pursuing outreach and nonprofit work that will cultivate change around me and prioritize those in need. As an educated Latina, I have the purpose to disrupt and inspire, and I intend to do just that after graduation.”

What IFF?: Queering Trauma Recovery

Queering Trauma Recovery

A new episode of What IFF? is out! We are joined by two trauma-informed experts to break down the misconceptions about sexual assault, trauma recovery, and patterns of serial perpetration. Katie Mai, LMSW, is a therapist with the Sexual Assault Services program at MUSC Lyn Maples is an outreach coordinator and victim advocate with Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S.

Together, we analyze data on victimization to better understand what’s happening in our culture. Then, we use that knowledge to create supportive practices for survivor healing and improve educational tools to change social attitudes about gender-based violence.

To speak with a victim advocate, call the Tri-County S.P.E.A.K.S. 24-hour hotline at 843-745-0144 or the National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Music by Clean Mind Sounds
Podcast Producer: WGS student, Bria Ferguson

Feminism in Motion 2023 Program

Feminism in Motion 2023

Feminism in Motion (affectionately nicknamed “FeMo”) began in Spring 2018 and is our annual celebration of student scholars and their work on gender-related projects. Students prepare micro-presentations and informational posters to showcase the projects they have been working on throughout the year. These projects, which span disciplines and subject areas, make for a diverse showcase of the WGS program’s best and brightest!

This year is our 5th annual FeMo! We hope that you can join us on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at the Stern Center Ballroom. The event is 3PM-7PM. Feel free to drop-in or stay the entire event!

Student Spotlight: Sara Solan

What is your hometown, your pronouns, and your major(s)/minor(s)?Sara Solan

My hometown is Franklin, TN. I use She/Her pronouns. My major is International Studies.

What areas/aspects of gender activism and/or advocacy for women and girls you find most engaging/interesting/what you’re most passionate about?

I am most passionate about advocating internationally for women’s and girls’ rights; I am specifically interested in education. Malala Yousafzai has been one of my biggest inspirations for years.

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 the Founder and President of Cougar Refugee Alliance (CRA). I started this club at the College of Charleston in Spring 2022 because I saw the need to support Afghan refugees arriving in Charleston. I had worked with refugees back home in Nashville, and I knew how vital our help was in helping them transition to self-sufficiency in the United States. We have worked with Lutheran Services Carolina, our area resettlement agency, to assist over 80 Afghan refugees who have arrived in the area. In our first semester we grew rapidly to 75 members. CRA held a fundraiser, a school supply drive, and helped to coordinate and staff childcare during a Cultural Orientation for all recently resettled refugees. Our advocacy will continue as refugees from various parts of the world will be resettling in the Charleston area.

I also serve as a student representative of the College’s Task Force on Refugee Resettlement. This campus wide collaboration arose from some of my initial discussions with Dr. De Welde about what I wanted to do for my activism project as a Ketner Emerging Leader. Comprised of faculty and staff from across the College and student representatives, this taskforce focuses on coordinating campus involvement in local refugee resettlement efforts such as by establishing “Circles of Welcome” for families. I help to lead and coordinate student involvement with task force initiatives, and am a student liaison with Lutheran Services Carolina.

I am also a Charleston Fellow and an International Scholar, active in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Charleston Hillel, and the Chaarg Fitness Club.

What does being a Ketner scholar mean to you?

Being a Ketner Scholar means actively working to create change in the local community to promote acceptance. I think it means to have courage to step up and advocate for those who do not have the same privileges that I do as a white American woman with the ability to attend college. It means going out into the community and making a hands-on impact.

What are your plans and goals after graduation?

After college, my goal is to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or for a refugee resettlement agency. I hope to apply what I learn from the International Studies program to work on policy change to make refugee resettlement a more efficient and effective process.

WGS Intersections | The Ends of Rainbows

Ends of Rainbows

Join WGS and The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art for a panel discussion organized by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the College of Charleston around themes explored in Jovencio de la Paz: The Ends of Rainbows on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 6:00PM.

This event will take place in person with a virtual participation option at halsey.cofc.edu/live

The panel participants are selected by WGS and is comprised of:

Kris de Welde, Director and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

Sarah Schoemann, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

Christina García, Assistant Professor, Department of Hispanic Studies

An Evening With Tara Bynum

Bynum

WGS is co-sponsoring an amazing event with Tara Bynum. She’ll discuss her recent book, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America.

Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 7th at 7PM at the Avery Research Center, 125 Bull St., Charleston, SC 29424

From the publisher UI Press: In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter.

A daring assertion of Black people’s humanity, Reading Pleasures reveals how four Black writers experienced positive feelings and analyzes the ways these emotions served creative, political, and racialized ends.

Inaugural WGS Community Leader in Residence

Mika Gadsden

Women’s and Gender Studies program at the College of Charleston announces its inaugural Community Leader-in-Residence

Charleston, SC – The College of Charleston’s Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) program is proud to announce its first Community Leader-in-Residence, an initiative to bridge the College and the greater Charleston community in partnership to advance equity and justice. The WGS program is honored to host Tamika Gadsden as its inaugural Community Leader-in-Residence (CLR), serving in this capacity from January through August 2023.

The Community Leader-in-Residence will support students in applying keystone concepts of the WGS discipline: intersectionality, power, resistance, equity, justice, and advocacy, in their understandings of and skills in areas such as community organizing, political and policy intervention strategies, needs assessment, effective communication, evidence-based advocacy, inclusive strategizing/planning for community action, and grant writing. Finally, the CLR will help to advance the College’s 2020-2030 Strategic Plan in the area of Academic Distinction through innovations for sustainable solutions, commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, and impactful, strategic partnerships.

This initiative is the culmination of years of critical dreaming by WGS students, faculty, and administrators. In 2018, Women’s and Gender Studies students were central to forming I-CAN, the Intersectional Cougar Action Network, which quickly became a voice for intersectional feminist student activism. Following the 2020 protests against the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other Black and Brown individuals as well as sustained national attention to a racial justice movement, the WGS program formed the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) with intentional representation of students with AALANA (African American, Latinx, Asian and Native American) and other underrepresented identities. The SAC provides WGS students with opportunities for shared governance in the program. One of the Committee’s first actions was to detail the Community Leader-in-Residence proposed by I-CAN, as a strategy for developing student leadership capacities.

Embracing the idea, over the last two years the WGS Executive Faculty Committee developed the position description, taking care to ensure that the role is reciprocal and sustainable, and that the initiative honored students’ original vision while advancing WGS program priorities.

Tamika “Mika” Gadsden is a Charleston-based content creator, media entrepreneur and organizer. The daughter of Jim Crow refugees, Mika has built a significant digital presence as an activist and has built Charleston Activist Network Media, LLC. – an outgrowth of her work as the South Carolina leader of the state’s Women’s March organization. Mika also hosts Mic’d Up, a daily livestream show on Twitch.

While the role is continually being defined in collaboration with Gadsden, the WGS program invites student scholar-activist-leaders in WGS and at the College broadly to join faculty leaders in welcoming Gadsden and ensuring her time as the Community Leader-in-Residence is generative and transformative.

The Women’s and Gender Studies program explores the intersections of gender, class, race, ethnicity, age, religion, ability, and sexuality within different cultures, contexts and time periods, offering a Bachelor of Arts major and minor at the College of Charleston, introducing students to relevant social issues while fostering critical thinking, strong verbal, writing and research skills, encouraging social advocacy, emphasizing diversity, and giving invaluable, tangible experience.

For more information, quotes, photos, or to schedule an interview, please email Kris De Welde, Director of WGS at deweldek@cofc.edu.

Tamika Gadsden

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes