American Studies Major, Gender Studies Minor
Having taught English as a Second Language to refugees from Burma, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, I learned firsthand about problems facing women in countries and cultures where basic human rights are denied simply by virtue of one’s sex. News stories reporting on distant injustices hit close to home, and my interest in these social justice issues was piqued by the experiences being relayed to me in broken English.
I find it intriguing that my foremost interests and successes are defined and affected by gender itself. I am a graduate of an all-women high school, and, as a member of the Notre Dame Women’s Rowing Team, have witnessed the benefits of equality afforded by Title IX. In the summer of 2012, I was a recipient of the Boehnen Fund for Excellence in Gender Studies Summer Internship Grant through the University’s Gender Studies Program. This grant allowed me to intern at an all-women law firm where I not only gained insight into the legal world of mediation and litigation, but also learned what it means to be successful in a predominantly male profession. As part of the grant, I developed and implemented a research project utilizing case studies and interviews to analyze the characteristics of prominent and highly successful professional women in local public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Meeting, speaking, and working with these influential women allowed me to understand the significance of American gender struggles and achievements on a very practical level.
In the summer of 2013, I received the Boehnen Fund for Excellence Internship Grant. While the setting of my work differed vastly from the year before, the scope again included practical elements of success; I was now working to help refugees and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking at the International Institute of Buffalo, New York. I received the Genevieve D. Willis Research Grant, and focused on gendered cultural differences and barriers that shaped refugee’s assimilation and successful integration into the Western New York region.
My life experiences have fueled my commitment to study gender differences between countries and sub-cultures, examine the implications of gender in the professional world, and explore how traditional gender roles impact one’s personal life. I consider it a privilege to be part of the Gender Studies Program as it raises awareness and provides invaluable insight not only on an individual level, but also in terms of policy and equality on a global scale.