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Women’s & gender studies graduates: Where are they now?

About women’s and gender studies: Students at Augustana develop critical skills and awareness of the experience, art, writing and theories of women in the academic curriculum. Within the program's interdisciplinary setting, students explore gender, power, sexuality and achievement by re-evaluating women's contributions to society. To earn a major or minor in women's and gender studies, students take both specialized courses and courses from the general education curriculum.

Armed with an Augustana degree and a background in women's and gender studies (WGS), four alumnae talk about what they are doing now, how their liberal arts experience impacts them today and why they would encourage others to follow in their footsteps.



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Lindsey Dixon ’10

Major: sociology; minor: WGS  

Today: Enrolled in a master’s in social work program at George Williams College of Aurora (Ill.) University

Dream: “I would love to one day complete my doctorate and teach social work and WGS courses.”

How have your WGS classes impacted your current study/work? 
“What I have learned from my WGS classes has impacted me immensely in my master's program as well as my various internships.... Being knowledgeable about gender and sexuality issues and being more understanding and empathetic towards others has enabled me to gain my clients' trust and better connect with them on a personal level.”

Why would you recommend others explore WGS?
“On a daily basis, we each encounter others who are different than ourselves, which makes it so significant to learn as much as possible about others and the ways they identify themselves, their sexuality, gender, race, etc. Getting a better understanding of another person's worldview and educating yourself as much as possible will help eliminate injustice and create a more peaceful world.”



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Laura Anderson ’08 Shaw

Major: English; minors: WGS and speech communication

Today: Features reporter for The Dispatch and Argus newspapers, Moline, Ill.

Dream: “I'm living it! I’ve wanted to write ever since I was old enough to hold a pen.”

What made you interested in WGS?
“I took a WGS class to satisfy a gen ed [requirement], and I fell in love with it. I loved learning something in class that I immediately could apply to real-life situations.”

How have your WGS classes impacted your current study/work? 
“WGS classes gave me a new lens through which to view the world. I would say that it has made me more sensitive without me realizing it. It makes me more careful to search for opinions or points of view from all people, regardless of race or gender.... I want everyone to read our paper, so that is the audience I write for.”

Why would you recommend others explore WGS?
“The classes are amazing. The papers, assignments and class discussions make you think. You will learn so many new things, and uncover things you knew, but didn't know, all along. The WGS professors, especially Dr. Simonsen, were some of my favorite during my time at Augie. You'll learn more about the world, and perhaps more importantly, you'll learn more about yourself.” 



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Courtney James ’08

Majors: English and sociology

Today: Assistant director of campus activities at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond

Dream: Earn a doctorate in higher education administration and continue to work in student affairs

What made you interested in WGS?
"At Augie, I consistently was interested in social justice and learning about how our society has been shaped because of privilege and gender roles. WGS allowed me the opportunity to learn about these areas, and the professors created a classroom environment that facilitated learning and conversation so that I could learn not only from them, but also from my peers."

How has what you learned in your WGS classes impacted your current study/work?
"I use the information that I took away from WGS in my work every single day.... WGS taught me to challenge the norm and not accept things strictly because that is the way that it has always been."  

Why would you recommend others explore WGS?
"Coursework in WGS makes you think about topics and ideas that you may not necessarily encounter in your everyday life. Professors design their classes so that you as a student are thinking about new and different topics, and they facilitate a culture of growth and learning."



Jane VanVooren ’99 Rogers

Major: English; minor: women's studies

Today: A work-at-home mom (freelance writer and editor in Orion, Ill.)

Dream: “I'd like to write a book about miscarriage...and do a show of my photography.”

What made you interested in WGS?
"I realized I'd been asking a lot of the questions that WGS does throughout my life—about women's status and why things are 'just the way it is.' I like to reflect on that and challenge that."

How have your WGS classes impacted your current study/work?
"WGS classes have helped me to forge my own path, realizing that I can create the lifestyle and the career that I desire, balancing family duties with my husband, realizing that we're each bringing different aspects to our marriage and family that make it a success."

Why would you recommend others explore WGS?
"It's important not to take the status quo of women at face value. It's thought-provoking and enlightening to consider the questions that WGS poses: questions of equality, culture, relationships, how gender and race are portrayed, etc."