Posted on 04/16/2021
“We get hell for being in WGSS, people say that it’s worthless and a waste of money, and that’s just untrue; doing something that I’m passionate about is always worth it. Being the first person to go to college in my family wouldn’t have been worth it if I couldn’t take something back to the community I am a part of. “
Taylor Chapman, WGSS MA
On Monday, March 15th Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hosted our annual “Life After WGSS” event, geared towards connecting current students in our program with alumni that can offer them a glimpse at their potential futures after graduation.
The event was hosted and moderated by Dr. Sarah Cervenak, Director of Undergraduate Studies. The alumni on the panel were Taylor Chapman, Danielle LaPlace, and Indhira Udofia. Danielle and Indhira are both currently enrolled in PhD programs, and Taylor, an alumni of both the undergraduate major and Masters program, is currently working in content development at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and in grant writing with the Babcock foundation.
Danielle LaPlace said that the WGSS MA program gave her the opportunity to do critical and thorough academic work that allowed her to hit the ground running in a PhD program. She valued the relationships she was able to build at UNCG with professors and mentors because of the intimacy of such a small program. Larger institutions, in her opinion, fail to offer the relationships with professors that are instrumental to good master’s level work.
Although Indhira Udofia is currently enrolled in a PhD program, she took the scenic route from a WGSS major to her current institution. She claims that a WGSS degree helped her discover her academic interests in the intersection of social work and religion, and helped sharpen her analysis in writing on topics ranging from Christianity to Bounce Music. As a graduate assistant on the Pauli Murray Project, Indhira benefited from the reading she had already done for her WGSS degree. Later, when working in housing justice, Indhira utilized the critical lens she acquired in WGSS to lead cultural competency training. For Indhira Udofia, a WGSS degree is what you make it, and being able to carve out your own exciting educational path and invite new voices to the conversation is what was most beneficial about WGSS.
For Taylor Chapman, the opportunity to put her politics into practice is what is most important and exciting about her current career. At the Babcock Foundation, Taylor is helping grantees through the process of getting funded, answering questions and working with folks directly. According to Taylor, making WGSS work for you is really important; WGSS gave her critical thinking skills, and any kind of social justice work is full of complexity. Being able to understand all sides of what is going on and to sit in conflict is important. There are also personal things that Taylor Chapman is bringing into the job: she is not formally trained in graphic design but her passion for creating things allows her to utilize her WGSS training to the fullest in this position.
Alumni had lots of advice in the question and answer session for new WGSS majors and minors, master’s students and graduating students. Many current students were worried about what potential careers they would be able to pursue with a WGSS degree and if they should continue their WGSS education after their bachelor’s degree. The three alumni on the panel gave some sage advice and even offered resources for students seeking support and funding to pursue their degree.
Indhira Udofia emphasized that it is important to “be flirtatious in your academic journey,” to try out new things, make connections outside of your field, and ultimately follow your interests. It was a sentiment echoed by the rest of the panel, who agreed that a WGSS degree is what you make of it and that you can apply it wherever you need it moving forward.
The WGSS Program is proud to see how far our former students have come in such a short time and thanks them for offering a bright example of what WGSS can do for our current students.