Alumni Success Stories

Maria McLeod 2013 – Customer operations representative at Coyote Logistics
Majors/Minors: Psychology and Gender Studies
Even though my job does not include gender studies directly, I use what I learned throughout my time in the Gender Studies program every day.  On a more macro level, my personal opinions and the ways in which I navigate through my everyday life have been influenced by the education I received through the Gender Studies program.  Also, the ways in which I communicate and interact with people has been greatly influenced by my gender studies education.   I have nothing but positive and pleasant things to say about my experience with the Gender Studies program during my time at Notre Dame.  The diverse subject matter presented in the classes and the passion with which the professors conveyed the material was amazing and only furthered my love of gender studies throughout my Notre Dame career.

Krista Duttenhaver PhD 2010 – Consultant, Public Sector Education
Majors/Minors:  PhD Theology/Graduate Minor Gender Studies
I loved teaching the Intro to Feminist and Gender Theory. Not only did I get the chance to get my undergrads hooked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Critical Theory, I had the privilege of learning alongside my students, who were some of the smartest and most intellectually curious students at Notre Dame.  The Gender Studies Program is a unique place and program at Notre Dame. Unfortunately, the university continues to struggle with gender issues, and does not always engage those issues in a just, open manner. My hope is that Gender Studies Program continues to offer students the opportunity to learn about the ideas, the history, and the theories that enable them to speak freely and thoughtfully in an academic environment where academic freedom in connection with gender issues is so often limited.

Jacki (Larson) Miskimins 2008 - Director, Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau (Marketing Director)
Majors/Minors: Marketing Major & Gender Studies Minor
I feel that I have a broader, more nuanced view of various issues. For example, sweat shops – Yes, they are terrible. Too, they provide means for women to earn money they otherwise couldn't. The perspectives I developed in the GS program have helped earn me a reputation in my career as being particularly sharp. From the panopticon to feminist porn, from poverty to power dynamics, I see things differently.    Masculinity is broken. I sincerely hope that much attention will be paid to masculinity in the coming years.  As a marketer, I have to look at major demographic trends – and any pollster can tell you that in a few years, Hispanic will be the primary ethnicity in America. This is a population that has historically struggled with harsh, constraining gender roles, and is poised to become the largest sector in America. Macho culture may rise with it, and there are dangers there.

Kristin Komyatte Sheehan  1990— Associate Director, Play Like A Champion Today™ Educational Series at the University of Notre Dame  
Majors/Minors:  Theology/Concentrations: Gender Studies and Peace Studies 
I currently have the privilege to work for my beloved University with the Institute for Educational Initiatives in the Play Like A Champion Today™ educational series. We offer national workshops to help youth sport and high school coaches, parents and athletes to run competitive sports programs that also teach character, virtue and moral values. Sport is one of the best ways for girls and young women to engage their physical bodies and develop their whole selves. Our program strives to provide equal and growth-filled sport opportunities for all young athletes, regardless of gender, socio-economic status or physical abilities.

Patrick Lasseter 2008 – Lead Teacher at North Panola High School in Sardis, MS
Majors/Minors: History/Gender Studies
I enjoyed all my Gender Studies classes, especially Sex, Sexuality, and Gender in the U.S. (both semesters). I was initially hooked after taking Gender Theory with Krista Duttenhaver. Maybe the toughest class I took at ND, it challenged me in ways that affect me today.  Everyone in the program was extremely welcoming. The professors I had in the program were all open-minded and promoted great discussion among their classes. Gender Studies has shaped my views on gender, class, and race. As a high school teacher, I took the opportunity to engage my students on issues related to their experience in a high-poverty rural area of Mississippi. Without Gender Studies, I do not think I would have been able to have those conversations. I hope that Gender Studies has continued success and that more male students investigate the great course offerings!

Kelley Tuthill 1992—Reporter, WCVB-TV Boston
Majors/Minors: American Studies/Gender Studies
My Gender Studies education helped me look at history, theology and literature from a different perspective. It definitely broadened my approach to academics. Gender Studies also helped me develop from a teenager into a more confident young woman.
The professors were amazing role models.

Samara Cahill PhD 2009 – Assistant Professor
Majors/Minors: PhD English/Graduate Minor Gender Studies
I now teach English literature at the university level and pretty much every single class deals with issues of social justice or ethical relationships, usually having to do with gender/class/ableism/race/sexuality, so my graduate GS minor informed my whole career. I now teach in Singapore a variation of the "Virgins and Vixens" class I designed for the GS Program at ND!  I hope that the Gender Studies program can be a visible symbol of how feminism is motivated by the spirit of Roman Catholic teaching.

Miriam Olsen 2010 – Yelp Account Executive
Majors/Minors: PLS and Gender Studies
I so valued reading and writing material written by WOMEN and people within the LGBT community. It was a welcome fresh perspective and rounded out the PLS canon.  I was always a feminist but never identified as one until I met people within the Gender Studies community. I realized through getting to know them that my values and what I hold sacred are feminist values – ones of equality for everyone regardless of sex, sexual orientation, etc.

Abby Palko PhD 2010 – Director of Undergraduate Studies, GeNDer Studies Program, Notre Dame
Majors/Minors: PhD in Literature/Graduate Minor Gender Studies
The grad minor literally led me to the position I'm in now, serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the GeNDer Studies Program. And because I'm sitting here in 325 O'Shag, I have the privilege of advising, listening to, and conversing with the insightful students who come to Gender Studies. Everyday, I get to talk about gender!  I hope that our students continue to spread the word about gender issues, driving the conversation.

Ann Biddlecom 1989—  Senior Research Associate, Guttmacher Institute, New York, NY.
Majors/Minors:  Sociology (major)/ Business (minor)/ Gender Studies (concentration)
My own area of training and research—population issues, particularly sexual and reproductive health—holds gender issues right at the core of almost every research question — be it how can women and men plan their families (number and timing of children) to meet their preferences to the most effective policies and programs to lower maternal mortality.   The Gender Studies program at ND gave me a solid base across multiple disciplines to introduce gender-related questions in the graduate training and professional positions I have assumed since then.

Emily Disque Hayes 2002—Education Coordinator at the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Jefferson City, Missouri
Majors/Minors: Psychology (major) and Gender Studies (second major)
I began working in the anti-violence against women movement while still a student at Notre Dame. I did a Summer Service Project Internship which gave me the opportunity to live and volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. During my senior year, I volunteered at the local rape crisis center. After graduation my volunteer experiences and my Gender Studies education allowed me to transition easily into professional work in domestic violence shelters, campus rape education programs, and rape crisis centers. My current position as Education Coordinator for a state domestic violence and sexual assault coalition is the kind of work I envisioned doing. I train professionals to respond to domestic and sexual violence and stalking. I was able to get my "dream job" within five years of graduating.

Michael Zimmer 1994—Assistant Professor at School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Majors/Minors: Marketing, with Gender Studies concentration
Immersing myself in the Gender Studies curriculum was one of my best decisions while at ND. It greatly expanded my vision of the world, of the role of language, and of social justice. Through the program I got to know a wonderful group of students whom I otherwise wouldn't have met in my routine ND life; these friendships helped shape me as a person today.  Intellectually, the Gender Studies program made me recognize the limits of my chosen career path (business), which I felt was too late to change. After 7 years in business, I decided to leave everything behind to pursue a PhD and become an academic (studying the social and ethical implications of information technology). I kept my time in the Gender Studies program in mind as I pursued this new intellectual goal (and, one of my first papers as a PhD student re-visited a line of thinking I had carried with me from Prof. Brogan's course years before).

Kelly Smith Gibson, MD 2004—Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cleveland, OH
Majors/Minors: Biological Sciences, Gender Studies
I have had a focus on women and issues involving them throughout my life, and I am now only working with women as an obstetrician/gynecologist. I have also always wanted to be a physician, so my Gender Studies background allowed me to learn about the obstacles that women have overcome to be in the medical (as well as many other) professions and inspire me to follow in their footsteps. By going into Women’s Health I have been able to continue my focus on women in my professional life as I care for women from their first pap smear, through childbirth, and beyond menopause.

Additional Alumni Stories