GWSS Alumni

Grace ’14

I’m working as a carpenter. I don’t directly apply my degree to my day-to-day work but it’s a nice foundation to move forward in this male dominated field.

Sapir Blau ’14

I currently work in a law firm specializing in privacy and data security. Before that I worked for the legal department of the Israeli National Security Council. I think what I learned in GWSS gave me a prism through which to critically examine everything I do, both professionally and socially.

Allison Brinkhorst ’11

I'm the Development Operations Manager at a nonprofit in Portland called Ecotrust. In addition to my development (fundraising) work, I facilitate EDI conversations at our organization. It's changed names over the years — from Courageous Conversations to Anti-Racism Learning Group — but across it all, it has been clear to me that the analysis I learned in GWSS classes about privilege, identity, intersectionality, etc., are very relevant to lived experiences in workplaces, and that I can facilitate insightful and productive conversations amongst colleagues without this educational background.

Lila Cardozo ’19

I spend most of my time working as a COVID-19 contact tracer at the New York City Department of Health and volunteering with my local mutual aid organization. As a contact tracer or case investigator, I speak to a diverse cohort of New Yorkers with COVID-19 who are often going through a difficult time. My GWSS major has pushed me to challenge my own unconscious bias after college and at my current job. This skill is essential for my position in the public health field, where making assumptions about a person can lead to a failure to ask the right questions.

Being knowledgeable about the disparities that impact communities from my work as a GWSS major have also put me in a great position to address them via mutual aid work in my own community during this difficult time.

Rian Edwards ’16

I am working as the Program Manager for WashU Olin's Entrepreneurship Program. I work regularly with students who are interested in entrepreneurship as well as local start-ups in the community. The concepts from my time in the GWSS department play a huge role in my work. For example - helping to solve gender/race equity within start-up funding.

Javon Garcia ’14

I am a Licensed Social Worker and Therapist at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. Which is Chicago’s LGBTQ health center. I definitely use GWSS concepts in my work as a therapist for LGBTQ folks. I take an intersectional, feminist, anti-racist and anti-sexist approach to therapy.

Leah Johnson ’19

I work at Grinnell as the Post Baccalaureate Fellow for Sexual Respect and Harm Reduction though my fellowship will sadly come to a close June 2021. In my daily work (and life) I use my GWSS background often to think about who isn't at the table and how I can get them there and amplify their voices.

Elliot Karl ’12

I am a current Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Government Performance where I support several US cities in the implementation and optimization of programs that advance economic mobility and racial equity. Specifically, my projects are specific to procurement reform to increase contracts to women and POC-owned businesses and launching non-carceral, community-driven public safety programming.

I use concepts I learned in the GWSS major every single day. It is more foundational than my graduate degree. Understanding power and privilege, being able to navigate complex conversations about structural racism and sexism, and knowing how and when to advocate as a white man were skills I practiced with Astrid Henry and Lakesia Johnson. Specifically, I seek any opportunity I can to coach governments to divest power to community members, so that they can together build more just and responsive governments.

Adam Lange ’11

After graduating from Grinnell I moved to New York City to attend law school and have been practicing law here ever since.  I have worked in a number of civil public interest law areas, including interning with Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.  The majority of my post-graduate work, including my current position, center around representing low and moderate income individuals in the NYC Family Courts, including Child Neglect, Family Offense (Domestic Violence), and Child Custody/Visitation proceedings.  The core aspects of GWSS study are baked into the various personal and social dynamics I face while representing clients in the Family Courts every day.

Reina Matsuura ’19

I was an English and GWSS major who considered the former to be my object of study and the latter my (research) method with which to approach literature. Both transcend school. Like most folks for most of their lives, I have no idea what I’m doing, or “I’m still figuring it out.” GWSS equipped me with the tools to question and consider the concept of “work” through disability, gender, race, and otherwise queer frameworks (e.g. when does a “job” turn into a career? How does “doing what you love” potentially make one vulnerable to exploitation?). That being said, GWSS informs so much of my paid and unpaid labors. On the one hand, I get paid to work with university students on their writing projects while attending antiracist workshops that question the notion of “good” institutionalized writing. I get paid to think about how I am complicit in a linguistic landscape rooted in white supremacy. On the other hand, I get to muse about the relationship between my identity as a person and a “worker” in my free time. GWSS gave me a community with which to live a more meaningful and purposeful life on my own terms.

Sarah McCarthy ’19

I'm in my second year of a Physics PhD program. I've chosen to do my PhD minor in the Gender & Women's Studies department, so I can keep my GWSS work as part of my career! Having majored in GWSS, I feel more prepared to fully live my feminism and to advocate for equity in STEM for all people. Physicists have significant work ahead to make their field more equitable and inclusive, and I hope to use my background in GWSS to push for this change and to encourage others to do so as well. I've also found that learning how to theorize the world around me helps me acknowledge the ways in which I am harmed by oppressive systems and how I can prioritize my own well-being in the face of that - a much needed skill in graduate school.

Clara Montague ’13

I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. My research focuses on feminist pedagogy and transnational feminisms, including the history of women's studies as a global, interdisciplinary field. I also teach intro and theory classes at UMD as well as serving as copyeditor for the academic journal Feminist Studies.

At Grinnell, I double majored in English and GWSS. This education was instrumental for me in discovering my intellectual passions and preparing me for graduate school. In addition to understanding the history of feminism and important debates in women's studies, I developed core academic skills and learned how to advocate for my own ideas. My GWSS classes at Grinnell also showed me what feminist teaching and learning could look like, and I strive to craft similar experiences for my own students.

Haley O'Neill ’18

I'm in nursing school en route to becoming a Nurse Midwife. Since graduating, I've worked as a community organizer in the Minnesota state legislature to advance reproductive freedoms, as a full-spectrum birth doula, and patient advocate supporting folks seeking abortion care. I incorporate practices of: trauma-informed, harm-reductive, intersectionality, anti-racism and gender-affirming care, health and resource equity-oriented actions daily as a nursing student and future healthcare provider and advocate. These include a commitment to critical analysis of white hegemony and dismantling white supremacy and Western-medicine norms in healthcare delivery and status quo.

Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ’19

I am a graduate student pursuing my MFA in Art at the University of Maryland. My art practice draws on concepts and theories I learned from my GWSS major every day. I also continue to take and teach classes involving philosophy, literature, and feminist theory and I am grateful for the strong interdisciplinary background that GWSS gave me.

Sieglinde Thetard ’20

I'm an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving as the Healthy Readers Taskforce Coordinator for the Grinnell Education Partnership. My role is focused on providing mental health resources to children in Grinnell, which has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. I work to bring art and literacy together to provide students with educational activities and experiences that also reinforce mental and physical wellbeing. GWSS emphasized community building and support, which has been fundamental to my approach in this role. My projects rely on collaboration with local non-profits, the school district, and community members with unique knowledge and skills.

Benjamin Vaughn ’15

I am an elementary school teacher with DC Public Schools in Washington, DC.

Many of the benefits of Grinnell's liberal arts structure pair well with interdisciplinary majors such as GWSS. Currently in my work, I am one of the LGBTQ Liaisons for my school building. I conduct teacher professional development on language, bias, and supporting our inclusion policy. Additionally, I serve as a support in the school in the case of LGBTQ related incidents or mediations, as well as advise the principal on areas in the DCPS policies where we need more attention.

GWSS has allowed me to think in transformative ways. Working with a diverse community, I look back to my GWSS-themed courses with the Spanish department, and having a better cultural intelligence has helped me work with and advocate for my students' families. Critical Race Theory and my Senior seminar with Astrid Henry proved foundational for moving my thinking into leadership and effectively navigating difficult topics with empathy, strength, and knowledge. It's hard to put into words what GWSS has done for me because it is an impact difficult to define. While I learned technical skills through the program, I think the biggest impact on my life and work is that I feel more equipped to communicate pluralistically, meaning I feel more prepared to work with various differing populations, ideologies, and systems.


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