GWSS Alumni

Leslie Bean '13

I'm Leslie Bean, a double major in Biology and GWSS from New Orleans, LA. When I first arrived at Grinnell, I did not consider myself a feminist, even though I espoused feminist values in my everyday life. After taking my first Biology class, I knew I wanted to major in Biology and thought that would be the only major I would want. During my second year, I took Intro GWSS and a number of feminist issues I'd struggled with over the years came up in class and I realized I wasn't the only one with these views and challenges. The areas of Biology and GWSS that I'm specifically interested in (ecology and masculinity studies, respectively) haven't yet overlapped in my college career yet, but I appreciate the opportunity that I have here at Grinnell to explore multiple areas of interest instead of being forced to choose one over the other. As of right now, I have only vague notions of what my post-graduation life might entail, but I do know that I'll use the perspectives gained in my GWSS studies to live my life in such a way to stay true to my feminist and anti-oppression values.

Liana Eisman '13

While a native New Yorker at heart, in 2009 I traded the sidewalks of Manhattan for the silos of Iowa to attend Grinnell. Upon beginning my education in GWSS, with Introduction to GWSS my freshman year, my interest was focused on feminist activism and on grassroots feminist communities. Through Introduction to GWSS, I examined different social movements and studied how they have shaped feminist identities, however, I also gained a heightened awareness of the relationship between gender, race and class, of the role that the media plays in perpetuating identity roles. After taking Theories and Methods my sophomore year, a course that provided me with the tools to translate my social feminist interests into academic language, I decided to declare a GWSS major. An indecisive person, I have enjoyed the academic freedom that an interdisciplinary major permits. The GWSS program does not only encourage me to take courses within different departments but, rather, requires that I do so. Because of its interdisciplinary framework, GWSS has allowed me to foster a range of academic, personal and professional interests, while simultaneously connecting my varied coursework with the overlying threads of gender, social inequality, and social justice. Due to this variation, GWSS has led me to critically challenge why things appear as they do within all of my coursework and daily experiences, instead of simply taking information at face value. As gender and sexuality continue to permeate all facets of culture and society so, too, does GWSS and I am enthusiastic to continue to explore new aspects and applications of this discipline.

Claire Fleckenstein '13

I'm a GWSS/French double major from Olympia, Washington and taking "Theory and Methodology in GWSS" my second year convinced me that I needed to major in GWSS. My GWSS education at Grinnell taught me to tie together my personal life and my scholarship. Classes like "Foundations of LGBTQ Studies" and "Feminist Memoirs" showed me the theory that has always affected my personal life, and revealed how the relationship between theory and practice is a two-way street. In the future, I want to teach and wish to share feminism with my students through a feminist/queer pedagogy. I want to make feminism and queer theory accessible to younger people, so they have more lenses through which to see the world. My love of the French language has also inspired me to take on a little side project and read texts by French feminists and theorists in the original French.  


Elena Lynch '13

A degree in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies is my license to think and act constructively, empathetically, and passionately while navigating personal and professional realities. As I try to make sense of political, social, geographic, and economic intersections of humanness throughout my work and my life, Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies facilitates my overall awareness and intention of what I do and who I am. Having chosen this interdisciplinary area of study, I have allowed myself to develop tools and skills which I can use to bridge conceptual gaps and solve problems. These skills, rooted in cultural critique and performance as well as historical, biological, and social analysis enhance my ability to absorb, contemplate, and interact with myself and other individuals.

Anika Manzoor '13

My name is Anika, and I am a GWSS major with a concentration in Global Development Studies (the only one right now!) hailing from Bethesda, Maryland. Growing up near D.C., I have had the great fortune of being involved with advocacy surrounding international girl's rights issues at a young age. Learning about the various awful ways women and girls are devalued around the world instilled within me a passion for female empowerment and when I realized I wanted to make a career out of that passion, I thought the GWSS major would provide me with the best tools to go forward. Pretty soon, I began to discover (and love) that the field is so much more than about "women." I came into the major interested in transnational/postcolonial feminism, but have expanded that interest to include all theorizing that takes nationalism, colonialism, race/ethnicity, and gender/sexuality as variables that complicate the experiences of marginalized groups and people everywhere. I could not be more grateful for my GWSS education, which has critically shaped the way I now view the world and how I approach issues of social justice, inclusion, and empowerment. (By the way, the picture was taken at a rally in Nicaragua for the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean. The sign reads, "For the sovereignty of my body, I demand the decriminalization of abortion." Wooo, human rights!)

Clara Montague '13

I am a fourth-year GWSS/English double-major from Skokie, IL. In addition to my academic work, I am involved in the GWSS department by being a co-chair of the GWSS Student Educational Planning Committee (SEPC) and working as a Writing Fellow in Professor Henry's Intro to GWSS class. I'm also a co-leader of the Feminist Action Coalition (FAC), work at the Career Development Office, and teach American literature classes with the Liberal Arts in Prison Program. Over the summer I took part in the Queer/Feminist Television Studies MAP, focusing on Glee. I decided to be a GWSS major after taking Theory and Methods in GWSS with Prof. Henry because I really love the way that GWSS always challenges me personally and intellectually. This spring I will be studying abroad in Madurai, India. After graduation, I think I'd like to complete a few years of service work before going to graduate school. Someday, I hope to find myself teaching GWSS and/or English classes. 

Nidia Bautista '12

When I first arrived at Grinnell, I knew that I wanted to major in Political Science, but as a Los Angelean who was used to being part of the majority in Southern California, I quickly felt out of place within other departments due to the overwhelming lack of students of color in my class's discussion regarding issues relating to my community and background. After taking my first class in GWSS with Professor Lakesia Johnson, I knew I had found my niche at Grinnell. Although courses at Grinnell are generally dominated by white students, I felt safe within my GWSS classes because we delved into issues of gender, race, class and other intersecting identities that many of my other courses did not adequately address. I took Critical Race Feminism in the spring of my second year and I quickly fell in love with the analysis of the law and its relationship to marginalized groups. The focus on law and its everyday implications for disadvantaged groups within our society has always been a passion of mine and by taking CRF, I gained entrance into a field of study that complemented this personal passion. In addition, I intend to use all of the knowledge that my GWSS courses have taught me in my own research and in graduate school, which I will be applying to in the field of Political Science. Although I do intend to attain a PhD in Political Science, this does not mean I will not integrate all of the analytical techniques I have gained in my GWSS courses; it is thanks to my GWSS academic training that I am able to better see the multiple ways individuals are systematically and historically oppressed by those in power and this insightful analysis will allow me to deliver academic work that addresses issues that traditional academia ignores.

Joe Hiller '12

My name is Joe Hiller. I'm a Grinnell College alumnus and GWSS major from central Pennsylvania—in a phrase, I'm a small town kid from Amish country and a general malcontent. Though I came to Grinnell with strong political convictions, my understanding of "social justice" has developed profoundly over the past few years, and GWSS has been central to that process. Indeed, one could say that GWSS chose me and not the other way around. Even as they have required that I reevaluate and complicate almost everything I have come to know, my courses in GWSS have strengthened my feminism and my ethical commitments to plurality and equity. They have been transformative in the best possible way. As I move into my post-undergrad life, I am certain that the lessons I have learned as a student of GWSS will continue to inform my attempts to engage, critically, with our social world. 

Isaiah Iboko '12

I chose to major in GWSS for the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary analyses to issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Since then, it has allowed me to delve deeper into coursework and theories from African-American Studies, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Sociology and History. Courses in all of these areas, taken both at Grinnell and abroad at the University of Amsterdam, have contributed to my learning and taught me to answer questions for papers and research in a way that integrates divergent types of knowledge. This interdisciplinary background has allowed me to prepare for grad school and an academic career in Ethnic Studies. During my second year, my studies evolved into research projects conducted through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Grinnell and the Summer Research Opportunity Program at the University of Iowa. The next summer, after studying media and cultural studies in Amsterdam, I was able to explore another research project at UCLA. These opportunities, made possible by my GWSS major, have prepared me to apply confidently to Ethnic and American Studies Ph.D. programs, and have laid the foundation for my graduate and academic career in the years to come. 

Elliot Karl '12

My name is Elliot Karl and I am a recent Grinnell graduate and GWSS/Economics double major from Downers Grove, Illinois. As I feel is common among most Grinnell students, I enrolled at the college with a wide variety of academic interests and goals. After taking Intro to GWSS in the fall of my first year, however, I became completely fascinated by the study of gender and sexuality--especially as it relates to economic, legal and political stuctures--and chose to major early the following year. I am a GWSS major for many different reasons: the program's interdisciplinary curriculum affords me the flexibility I desire in choosing what topics to specialize in; I appreciate the discussion-focused nature of the curriculum; I love GWSS professors and the conversations we have inside and outside of the classroom; finally, the nature of GWSS curriculum content has greatly helped me to learn about topics of great personal significance. During my time at Grinnell, I have taken a wide variety of GWSS courses, completed a Noun Internship at Lambda Legal and recently completed a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) with Professor Astrid Henry and four other students during the summer of 2011. After a year or two of service, I hope to attend graduate school to pursue studies in gender, sexuality, demography, geography and economics.

Christian Loggins'12

My major in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies was a surprise in that I had originally intended to double major in other disciplines. However, it wasn't until I got deeper into gender studies coursework that I realized that I had found my passion. Never before had anything clicked in my head so easily before. Gender studies takes my love of literature and culture and gives me a critical lens to analyze it with. GWSS combines elements of English, philosophy, art, film, social studies, and anthropology--truly living up to its interdisciplinary reputation. This allowed for flexibility in how I chose classes, allowing me to mold my own major based on what I was interested in. With my major I want to go to into graduate school for either Gender or Media studies.

Najma Osman '12

Hello! My name is Najma and I'm a GWSS alumna from St. Paul, Minnesota. I have always been interested in issues of gender and sexuality, especially in the transnational context. My sophomore year I studied in Cambodia during the winter recess and did research on sex trafficking that I later presented at a student conference on campus. After that, I knew that GWSS was a passion of mine, and I continued to take courses in the department. What I like most about GWSS is the interdisciplinary nature of the program, which means I can explore diverse classes with topics from religious studies to LGBTQ studies at Grinnell. People often ask me what I plan to do with my GWSS major and Global Development Studies concentration after Grinnell, and one thing I always point to is the critical thinking skills that I have acquired that will allow me to succeed in any career path. The best thing about GWSS however, is that I have been able to harness my passion for many deeply personal issues into an academic context. GWSS classes are also always filled with wonderful and open-minded people that create a nurturing and enjoyable learning environment!

Aurora Quinn-Elmore '12

My name is Aurora Quinn-Elmore and I'm a member of the class of 2012. I'm a double major in Political Science and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. In the last year or so, my academic interests have shifted from American politics to more of a focus on development, international political economy, the environment, and human rights. I have been very grateful that Grinnell's flexible majors have allowed me to complete my double major while pursuing these shifting academic interests. Now that I've graduated, I hope to pursue a career in consulting and eventually perhaps attend business school for a degree focused on ways that businesses can be more social or environmentally responsible. My GWSS major has taught me that there are many paths one can take to effect positive change.

Zoe Schein '12

I'm Zoe Schein, and I'm a senior GWSS major from Urbana, Illinois. I came to Grinnell intending to major in English or Sociology, but soon realized that what drew me to those other disciplines tended to be the ways in which they addressed issues of gender and sexuality. Because of the Grinnell GWSS program's interdisciplinarity (or, the term I prefer, *super*disciplinarity) I was able to explore the topics about which I was passionate without the disciplinary restrictions of more traditional majors. Though I have yet to encounter a subject within GWSS that hasn't struck my fancy, much of my coursework has focused on media representation and cultural critique, including courses such as "Feminism in Pop Culture," "Film Analysis," and "Women, Art, and History." This course of study culminated in a Mentored Advanced Project on Queer Television Studies led by Professor Astrid Henry, an experience that I not only *would* repeat, but for which I am actively attempting to construct a time machine in order to do so. This collaboration with Professor Henry, as well as Elliot Karl '12, Amanda Stromquist '12, Clara Montague '13, and Liana Eisman '13 was easily the highlight of my academic career at Grinnell.

Laura Stamm '12

I'm Laura Stamm, a member of the class of 2012 and it's hard to say how exactly I chose a GWSS major for I certainly did not enter college with that intention. The interdisciplinary nature of the program works well for me; I realized at the end of my second year that the diverse schedule of courses I was taking lent itself well to the GWSS major. Being a major has allowed me to take a variety of courses that encompass my interests in what can be described as cultural studies (primarily composed of film studies, literary theory, and feminist/queer theory). As a new Grinnell College alumna, I plan to continue my studies in these areas at the graduate level and am now pursuing a Ph.D. in a visual cultures program to achieve my ultimate goal: a career in academia.

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