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Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies

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Gender as a Process

Anne Fausto-Sterling, a noted expert in gender studies, will present a free public lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Fausto-Sterling, Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of biology and gender studies at Brown University, is a frequent commentator on feminist and scientific inquiry. Her lecture is titled "Gender as a Process, Not a Trait: Dynamic-Systems Approaches to Origins of Difference in Infancy."

Following Fausto-Sterling's talk, Lizzie Eason ’17 will give a brief presentation. Eason, a mathematics and statistics major, has been working with Fausto-Sterling on data analysis for the past year, applying a network-based modeling technique to Fausto-Sterling's data. Eason will present the results of her analysis.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Rosenfield Center is fully accessible, with parking available in a lot on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsors — the departments of psychology and gender, women's, and sexuality studies — or Conference Operations.

Changing the Face of Science

Jessi L. Smith, a noted expert on social psychology, will deliver the Scholars' Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 1, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The lecture is free and open to the public with a free pizza lunch provided.

Smith, a professor of psychology at Montana State University, has conducted extensive research on theories of stereotypes, with a focus on understanding the practices and policies that create equitable environments. At MSU, she chairs a 47-member team charged with enhancing faculty diversity and equity in order to foster learning among all faculty and students.

Smith's talk, titled "Changing the Face of Science: How to Create a More Diverse and Inclusive STEM Community," will feature Smith's work in experimental social psychological science. Smith will present her findings on the prevalent role of unintentional biases within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) community, and discuss how to create more equitable environments in these fields.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations.

Intentional Diversity

“Even though I am African-American,” says Zac Ellington ’10, “I don’t think I truly understood the benefits and importance of diversity — not just racial, but socioeconomic, geographic, and experiential — until arriving on Grinnell’s campus with my Posse.”

Posse Scholars are students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college recruiting methods. Each Posse consists of about 10 students who attend college together as a group.

The Posse Foundation recruits students from nine urban areas in the U.S. and then helps them prepare for and apply to participating colleges like Grinnell.

As of 2014, 97 Posse Scholars have graduated from Grinnell, 59 from Los Angeles and 38 from Washington, D.C. Nationally, 90 percent of Posse recruits graduate from college.

Introducing Posse Alumni

Javon Garcia ’14

“I would not be where I am right now without Posse and Grinnell,” Garcia says. “It has given me so many opportunities.”

Garcia counsels and educates Illinois residents through AIDS United Chicago, a group consisting of AmeriCorps volunteers.

In New York, Garcia served as a public health intern for Harlem United and conducted street outreach for the Audre Lorde Project, which provides services for clients with HIV/AIDS. 

“Posse for me is not just for four years,” says Garcia. “We are lifelong friends. It’s just a commitment we have made for life.”

Rosal Chavira ’11

  • Major: Spanish and sociology
  • Position: site lead, Leslie Lewis School of Excellence, Chicago
  • Posse city: Los Angeles

With five brothers and five sisters, Rosal Chavira says college might not have been affordable for her family. After her high school English teacher suggested Posse, she knew college was a part of her future. 

“Grinnell has a reputation for creating critical thinkers and creating educators who go back and serve,” says Chavira, a first-generation college student.

“Being a mentor and teacher is both rewarding and grueling work, but I wake up every morning to serve my students — because they too deserve to see and rise above their circumstance into the greatness they have the potential to become,” Chavira says.

Zac Ellington ’10

  • Major: psychology
  • Position: international program director, World Scholar’s Cup Foundation, Los Angeles
  • Posse city: Los Angeles

“The power of any posse is greater than the sum of its parts, and I was and still am fascinated by the way students of different backgrounds who don’t necessarily share interests come together to be a force for dialogue and change,” Ellington says.

“It helped me understand why colleges, especially liberal arts institutions like Grinnell, strive to look past just test scores when admitting an incoming class,” he says.

Frank, meaningful conversations during Posse Plus Retreats helped inform the entire campus.

“Some of the conversations that started during the retreats became recurring themes in campus dialogues, and I really feel that the retreats helped participating students find their voices,” he says.

Lester Alemán ’07

  • Major: sociology and education
  • Position: program director, Posse Los Angeles
  • Posse city: Los Angeles

When Lester Alemán attended high school, his college plans were underdeveloped.  

“I was thinking very vocationally,” says Alemán, a first-generation college student. “The purpose was to go off and find a career to pay me.”

Fortunately, being nominated for Posse expanded his college possibilities — and it led him to Grinnell.

“I can’t imagine having gone to college without a Posse,” Alemán says.

Posse became an even bigger part of his life after graduation in 2007. Now, he works on behalf of the program to help exceptional students have their own Posse experience. Alemán worked as a trainer for Posse Los Angeles and is now its program director. His academic background as a sociology and education major fit well with building a career at Posse and helping students.

At Grinnell, he experienced “an amazing” Posse mentor, lasting friendships with Posse Scholars, and encouragement to excel academically.

“Posse is a transformational experience,” he says.

Program Preps Students for Grinnell

A pre-orientation program is helping put new Grinnellians at ease — a week before classes begin — through tours, workshops, and social events.

“It has helped lower my stress,” says Dasaan McCrimmon, a first-year student from Philadelphia, Pa.

The five-day program introduces students to the campus and college resources. Each student is paired with a student mentor.

David Chang, a first-year from San Diego, Calif., lauds the program. “Being in PCPOP with other students from across the nation, and a lot of them being students of color and minority students, I think that’s great,” he says. “It’s great to know people and know where things are.”

Jocelyn Acosta is a mentor and third-year sociology and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major from El Monte, Calif. “It’s an awesome program,” she says. “It’s important for students to have one-on-one attention.”

PCPOP participants have fun while exploring campus. Some of their activities include:

  • Scavenger hunt and campus tour
  • Dinner with President Raynard S. Kington
  • Leadership Panel with Student Government Association (SGA)
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Visits to the writing, reading, and math labs
  • Discussion about wellness and financial management

Joan Mohan, director of the Reading Lab, makes students feel comfortable seeking help. She shows them resources about time management and discusses good reading and study habits.

“How did you ever learn anything in your life?” she asks. “It takes time. It takes practice, repetition, perseverance, a little bit of patience, a little bit of bravery, and, me nagging along.”

The program is organized by the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership (OIEL).

Jocelyn Acosta ’16 sociology and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major from El Monte, Calif. Dasaan McCrimmon, a first-year student from Philadelphia, Pa. David Chang, a first-year student San Diego, Calif.