Alumni Career Paths

Find your feminist voice. How loud can you Roar...?

Women's and Gender Studies maintains strong connections with its community of alums. Here's an update on what recent grads are doing:

Maria Tuite, 2017

I am currently in my second semester of nursing school and loving every second. I just finished my rotation in obstetrics during which I had the opportunity to observe a few births and take care of patients during a beautiful and vulnerable stage of life. Despite the physiological and pharmacological focus, I find myself constantly thinking about my WaGS degree, allowing the perspective I gained from SMC to shape the way I promote kind, approachable and quality care. I am very grateful for the foundation set throughout my undergrad experience. Looking forward to the start of my women’s health masters next year. WaGS has been so pivotal in my growth both professionally and personally. I am forever grateful for the lens and foundation it has given me.

 Nani Shroeder, 2017

I graduated in 2017 and I have been pursuing law.  I interned with the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office the summer after graduation.  I started at large firm and put in one underpaid, chaotic year there.  Now I am at a small boutique firm as a paralegal.  I do employment-based immigration and manage a number of corporate clients.  My best piece of advice for WaGS majors is don’t panic.  I am still trying to take my own advice!

Miranda Rowley, 2016

Since graduation in 2016, I have gone to law school.  I am graduating this spring 2019 and have an offer to work at a law firm doing employment law. I use my WaGS degree almost every day.  A lot of my work revolves around gender issues, such as sexual harassment law after #MeToo.  Going forward I will be writing sexual harassment policies for big corporations and I know my WaGS degree will inform a lot of my work.

Michael Urbina, 2014

I did a double major in WaGS and Sociology and graduated in 2014.  Currently, I am leading Executive Diversity Recruiting at Box, a tech company in Silicon Valley. I am also a Senior Fellow at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.  One of the best decisions I ever made was to major in WaGS. Never did it cross my mind that I could go into tech with my background. Now, I find myself literally using everything I learned in WaGS in my current role. I am now changing the face of executive leadership in Silicon Valley. WaGS changed my life.  As a cisgender Latino, WaGS was the best decision I made as an undergraduate. Read more...The Startup - Male Allyship: The Kryptonite to Silicon Valley’s Leadership Diversity Problem by Michael Urbina

Hannah Friedman, 2013

I graduated with a BA in WaGS in 2013.  Since graduating from SMC, I have continued to dedicate my work to advancing the work and support of women and marginalized populations. I have worked with Sacramento County’s sexual assault and domestic violence agency for the past three years.  While working with survivors of violence, I acquired a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.  I have since graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I am providing therapy to foster youth and parents.  WaGS and its faculty and staff are the reason for my success and passion.  They are the mentors I think of most often and thank for my work with women and empowering children.  I am incredibly thankful to this program and those who keep it going.

Melissa Jenkins, 2012

I was a WaGS and English split major and graduated in 2012.  I am currently working for Sutter County Health and Human Services as a Medi-Cal and CalFresh Public Assistance Specialist.  WaGS prepared me to work with vulnerable community members by teaching me how socioeconomic status interests with other identities.  I am able to be more compassionate and understanding about my customers’ individual needs because of what I learned in my WaGS classes.  I am also a board member for the Sutter County Employees Association, Local 1/AFSCME and I am training to be a shop steward as well.

Liz Roland, 2012

I graduated with the WAGS Class of 2012. A WAGS degree has been vital in my professional career. Since graduation, I have spent the last seven years in a Manager or Director role in the non-profit sector working for organizations like Autism Speaks and American Cancer Society. I have raised well over 4 million dollars for the charities that I've worked with and this would not have been possible without the education I received as a WAGS major.

WAGS instilled in me a robust sense of confidence, a deep understanding of the complications of gender/race/class intersectionalities and most importantly a strong voice. As I reflect on my degree and my professional career there are two areas that specifically come to mind: writing and meetings.

As a fundraiser, writing persuasively and passionately is vital for everything from donor engagement, setting meetings, recruiting volunteers to writing national newsletters. The amount of critical reading and writing that went into my degree has given me foundation to engage with an exceptionally varied demographic.

I often find myself meeting with high powered executives, studio heads, government officials and I am in the position of asking them for a lot of money - this could be preserved as a really intimidating setting. That being said, WAGS instilled in me a strong confidence to know my worth and engage in those interactions with complete preparation. As a student, the classroom environment challenged us to engage, understand, interpret and come prepared to debate the text. That intense preparation before each class has trained me to carry on that same ferocity and self worth into the board room. 

Amanda Sargent, 2012

I was a WaGS and Psychology split major and graduated in 2012.  After graduation, I spent some time volunteering with BAWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape) as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor.  Now I am the store manager of the Moraga drive-thru Starbucks, where I have been for four years.  I am a manager trainer within the company. I mentor baristas and supervisors within the company to help them begin their journey toward management.  I am also working toward my Master’s of Science in organizational leadership, as I look to moving into Starbucks corporate.

Kaleb Lawson, 2011

I was a Women’s Studies and Sociology split major.  Since graduation in 2011, I have spent my time working at financial institutions helping to ensure we protect consumers by building out regulatory compliance programs.  I specialize in program and project management, corporate governance, and data analytics.  In those roles, I try to embody WaGS by giving opportunities—hiring, projects, exposure—to people who may not fall into the groups with the most representation. I am active in employee resource groups and love pulling together RuPaul’s Drag Race Employee watch happy hours!

Camelia Taylor, 2011

I was a split major, English/Women's Studies with a Minor in History.  After graduation, I worked one year in the non-profit sector with The Boys and Girls Club of Southwest County in Murrieta, CA. In 2012, I began working with military families aboard Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton as a Preschool teacher.  I was there for three years, even though for the last five, I've worked for Marine & Family Programs Headquarters aboard Camp Pendleton as an Administrative Assistant for the Child and Youth Programs. I'm currently finishing my M.A. in Digital History at California State University San Marcos and I am writing my thesis on the lives of religious women.  I hope to pursue a different career path within the government upon graduation.

Janelle Silva, 2008

I did a double major in English and Women’s Studies.  I am now an English teacher (7th and 8th grade) in Santa Cruz, finishing my 7th year of teaching.  I have taught 6th to 12th grade and I particularly love 8th graders.  I also teach a calligraphy elective which is very fun!  I enjoy the outdoors, backpacking, camping, and exploring open lands and National Parks with my husband. When I am not working you can find me in my garden with my kitties and chickens. I was student from a lower socioeconomic family.  I rowed at SMC for two years while also working two jobs.  Even with a double major, I was able to study abroad at the University of Cape Town, South Africa—the highlight of my college experience.

Alison Mata, 2007

I graduated in 2007 with a major in International Area Studies and a double minor in WaGS and Spanish.  I co-founded the Women’s March in Oakland and I am one of its current directors. I oversee operations and logistics for the annual march and programs.  I was previously Program Manager for the Oakland Women’s Center in West Oakland.

 

In 1998, WaGS students led a march to create a campus Women's Resource Center, now the Center for Women and Gender Equity. The leaders of this activism for social justice reflected on the role of Women's Studies in their education and growth:

Looking into the Mirror

Meghan Crowell, Government Degree

When I first entered the Women's Studies Program there were a lot of people talking about why they wanted to become a Women's Studies student. I listened to what many women had to say, but I never did understand. For me there was no issue of wanting to be a Women's Studies student, there was only need. I needed to be a Women's Studies student because I needed to get to know myself. I knew that somewhere locked in all the Women's Studies classes was who I was. I needed the chance to explore myself through other women's experiences in order to find my own.

I can think of very few outlets in society that create a safe place for women to be together with one another, learning. I had been told that all of my life t would never be able to love someone else unless I could love myself first. This came as no small task. In order to truly love myself I had to know exactly who I was. I did not need to know where I was going; I needed to know where I was from. This meant taking a journey through the eyes of other women as they began to change history. It meant that I would have to confront my deepest fears and sorrows, and most importantly it meant that I would have to speak up in class. By learning to speak in class I was validating my own experiences. I was teaching others about an experience that was very different from their own. It is through this process that women can understand that they do not have to share the same background to be united through the common bond of growing up as a woman.

The most important lesson to be learned in Women's Studies is that no matter who you are, you bring personal value to the table. It is your experience that makes you unique, it is only when we do not use our experiences to relate ideas to others that we see what a gift we have been wasting. Women's Studies is about allowing women personal space to grow into the strong, proud women that they feel like on the inside. It is about proving that your voice is something and that no 1 can ever take that away. When you leave your formal Women's Studies classes, you will understand that you can never be silent again.

Marching Toward Equality

Rachel Eakie, English Degree

Being a Women's Studies minor was one of the most enriching experiences I had at Saint Mary's College. While in the program, I had the opportunity to learn from, discuss with, and read about women who were not only inspirational, but inspired themselves. Seeing their accomplishments made me push myself harder to accomplish my own goals and to

involve myself in more activities which let the voices of women be heard. The most rewarding of these activities was a student march that I helped organize to raise awareness about issues concerning female students on campus. When everything finally came together after months of planning and I turned around during the actual march to see hundreds of students at an event which only a few planned, I was in awe. That was the most empowered I have ever felt. It is because of the knowledge I have gained from the program about the necessity for communication and equality that I was able to recognize the need for voices to be heard and to organize a forum which accomplished that.

After completing the Women's Studies program, I have gained a much stronger sense of who I am, what I believe in, and what kind of person I want to become. Women's Studies is something that can apply to all areas of life, even those you may not expect. I plan to become an elementary school teacher and have already learned how teachers can ensure that all their students-girls and boys-are treated fairly in the classroom. This is only 1 way Women's Studies will help me in the future. The list of insights it has given me is too long to include.

Voice

Ashley Musick, Anthropology/ Sociology Double Degree and Women's Studies Minor

Becoming a Women's Studies major at Saint Mary's College is a daunting task to say the least; however, the challenge makes the experience all the more gratifying. When I realized in the summer of 1997 that I could conceivably become a double major, combining transfer courses with some of the most innovative and challenging courses available at Saint Mary's, I immediately contacted Sandy Grayson asking for the go-ahead.

When I first met with Sandy, I was overwhelmed and somewhat intimidated. This was a woman who had the ability to grant me a major in a field that is not only academically important to me, but personally as well. With Sandy's encouragement and authorization, I entered into a world where I would become an activist and lifelong member. I entered the world of visionary ideology, humanitarianism, and feminism. I was offered the chance to develop, challenge, and expand the person I always knew myself to be; without the inspiration and push from the Women's Studies Program, I would never have succeeded in becoming the person I am proud to be today.

My experience at Saint Mary's College as an active and vocal women was cultivated and nurtured within an amazing Program that grows with each semester. I spent a very challenging and at times frustrating senior year trying to bring awareness to an all-too ignored topic in our society and our campus-rape. Several students and I were able to make some headway; yet the road is a long 1, and 1 that cannot be abandoned. Therefore, when I finally walk across that stage, diploma in hand, I may no longer be a student; however, I will be an alumna, 1 who will never forget the importance of supporting women, education, and activism. I will forever be a part of the Women's Studies Program at Saint Mary's College, and I am honored to say as much. The women in this Program cultivated something in me I can never fully repay - they helped me find my voice. This is why, in any way that is possible, I will support the vitally important Program, giving back what little and as much as I can.

As I sit at the edge towards the end of my college career, I cannot possible express the emotions I feel about the wonderful women at Saint Mary's. Thank you does not feel nearly sufficient, but it is all I can offer at the moment. Thank you.

The Open Door

Erin Wetzel, Psychology Degree

My experience with the Women's Studies Program has been, by far, the best and most profound in my years at Saint Mary's College.

It was here that I met other students with similar passions and concerns as my own. Many hours were spent with women laughing, talking, sharing frustrations, and building relationships that I am confident will remain true throughout this lifetime.

It was here that I encountered an amazing group of faculty. Strong women who motivate and inspire, while demanding the best from their students. Many of these women I call not only my "teacher" or "professor," but also, without a doubt, my friends. I have never had trouble finding an open door, understanding ear, welcoming smile, or sound advice to get me through the day.

It was here I learned the immense power a few women can have when truly believing in issues facing our campus. I have witnessed firsthand the effect of a small core on an entire community. I have acquired skills of effective communication, organization, team work and, my personal favorite, activism.

Last, but certainly not least, it was here I learned more about myself and what I believed in. I discovered who I am and realized what I aspire to be. I created boundaries and tested waters, and saw clearly what I am willing to tolerate and what I must stand up for as a woman in today's society.

I have so much appreciation and gratitude for everything I have gained through this program. Surely my college experience would not have been the same without the Women's Studies Program and the extraordinary people involved in its success.

 

Women's Voices: Transitions

During the first week of Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, Professor Denise Witzig often asks her students to respond to the question, "Why am I taking a WaGS class?" Here is a brief selection of comments.

"The course attracted me like a magnet when I saw it. My admiration for women started during my childhood because I was raised by my mother and my grandmother. My grandfather died and my father abandoned my mother with 3 little girls. After my mother and grandmother died, I came to live with my father in the United States. My father tried hard to make me believe in his views and opinions about women, but it backfired. I started to read about women. My passion for books about women continued. Reading has been a wonderful experience, but to study one of my favorite subjects will be a voyage into my mind."

Georgina Garcia

"Both of my grandparents were born in El Salvador. My grandfather's idea of Women's Studies is cooking class. I have grown up with a mother who refused to give into the suppression the Latin culture places on women. My mother taught me that I can do whatever it is I dare to do. The only woman I have been able to speak to about Women's Studies was my mother. Women my age scoff at the idea of Women's Studies and label the subject a bore. I find it amazing that women can find the study of themselves boring."

Carleen Driscoll

"Throughout my entire life I have been extremely interested in women's issues. When I was a few weeks old, my aunt baptized me to grow up and become a feminist. I now consider myself to be a feminist and I want to continue to stand up for women's rights in the future. I would like to learn more about the past histories of women so that I can be an informed woman. I hope to have a job in the future that will help out the advancement of women in the world and help women who are caught in abusive relationships."

Cara Hanks-Mathews

"As a Mexican-American, I am concerned about the rights that women have and the roles that we once had, the roles that we have now, and the ones that we might be able to have in a very near future. I want to have a broad understanding of women's history and struggles, to keep the purpose alive and to better ourselves. I want to live in a world that, hopefully, will not distinguish a person for being a man or woman in the future."

Elba Viveros

"Inequalities in pay, treatment, and employment opportunities are just a few of the problems that I may need to surmount when I enter the working world. I want to be prepared. I want to show the world that I am capable of doing anything I want to. When I think of women, I think of many things: strong, beautiful, intelligent, capable loving, to name a few. I see a woman as much more than a baby factory, a piece of meat, or an object. Unfortunately, many times, this is how women are portrayed in the media and in our society. I want to see, study, and learn about women for what they can offer on an intellectual and emotional level. I want to know the truth about women and the issues affecting us."

Liz Austin

"I was a child during "The Feminine Mystique" era when a woman's only identity was that of wife and mother. Women were convinced that their sole purpose in life was to be a house servant for their husbands and children and many found themselves mired in depression and anxiety. When the daughters of that generation came of age we decided not to continue this cycle of unhappiness of our mothers and set out to gain freedom from this oppression.

We believed we could make the lives of women better. We would tell them it was okay to make themselves happy. We could claim an education and have a satisfying career. We could "have it all." Our concerns that women be liberated from this constraining lifestyle eventually led to the Second Wave of Feminism and to the Women's Liberation Movement. But during the Eighties, the "backlash" against women's liberation divided and almost conquered the women's movement. It forced many women back into the "Feminine Elba Viveros Mystique."

When I returned to college to finish up the degree I had started in the late Sixties, I became aware that I had been living in a bubble. Since I have always felt very equal in my marriage and career, equality had not been an issue in my life. But I began to realize that my extended family of daughters-in-law had different outlooks on marriages and careers than I did I knew the pendulum was shifting, but I didn't realize just how far. In my first year at St. Mary's I met several young women who allowed men to treat them badly and then wondered what they had done wrong. I was appalled to know that today's young women still think in those terms. The statistics of abuse certainly bear this out. This became a most interesting psychological issue to me and I began to investigate the Women Studies program; now I have an individualized major of Women's Studies and Psychology. I began my college education during the Second Wave of Feminism and I am completing it during the Third Wave. It is discouraging to see how little progress we have made. I feel it is important for all women and men to understand our history and to be inspired by the amazing women who have fought so hard for the freedoms we enjoy today. We must become aware of that past to move positively into the future."

Kristi Pierson