Content - Category

Women’s and Gender Studies News

A Passage From India: Lessons From An International Student's Journey

Posted on July 28, 2014 4:49 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Rajika Bhandari

Rajika Bhandari

Rajika Bhandari clearly remembers her first taste of the United States: a shrink-wrapped chocolate-chip cookie and a can of chilled Coke on an American Airlines flight to Raleigh, N.C.

The year was 1992, and Bhandari was one of 36,000 Indian students traveling to study in the United States. She recalls that flight as the beginning of an extraordinary journey, one that led to earning her doctoral degree in psychology from NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Bhandari wrote a column about her experience, “A Passage From India: Lessons From An International Student’s Journey,” for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, she compares her experience with what students today might gain from international study.

And Bhandari is something of an expert on the topic. As deputy vice president for research and evaluation at the Institute of International Education, she leads the Open Doors and Project Atlas projects that measure international higher education mobility.

Here are excerpts from her column:

... As I look back on my first days and weeks in a foreign land, I truly hope that today’s international students are still getting the eye-opening experience I had.

As a young graduate student from India, attending North Carolina State University was as much an education in psychology (my chosen field of study) as it was a life lesson about cultural differences in how knowledge is imparted and acquired in the United States. I was encouraged to think much more critically than I had ever before, and was surprised that questioning your professor was actually a good thing and not seen as an affront as it would be in Indian universities (and I suspect in many other institutions and countries around the world). So while I balked when my American classmates casually referred to my adviser by his first name, I also sharpened my critical-thinking skills and felt an equal participant among my peers, men and women alike.

What immediately struck me also about the American system was its sheer fluidity and openness. Taking full advantage of its cross-disciplinary approach, I was able to move easily across different departments, selecting courses from psychology, statistics, sociology, and developmental economics to fashion a degree that would prepare me for a career in international work. This sort of flexibility is almost unheard of in many countries, or it is certainly rare in India where even today rigid curricula are a deterrent to many American students who would like to study there.

… My interactions with my American peers—and those from all over the world—challenged me to expand my worldview. In many ways, I was growing up and becoming an adult in the United States, being shaped by this country going forward as I had been by India for the first half of my life. As a student in the south I developed a much more nuanced understanding of black history and race relations in the United States. Through my Jewish American friends I learned about the full extent of the Holocaust, a subject that was covered cursorily in Indian history books back home. …

Bhandari says much has changed in global higher education in the two decades since she first came to the United States, including a surge in the number of students studying overseas and the rise of new technologies. She believes, however, that "the transformational power [of studying abroad] remains indisputable. Just ask the over 4.1 million students who are currently studying outside their home countries. For most young students, it represents an intellectual and cultural coming of age, a type of holistic education that might occur on the fringes of a formal degree but that is invaluable in shaping the mind, soul, and character of a student."

Read the full column and the Institute of International Education’s “Open Doors” report to learn more.


Staff Member Personifies Commitment to Serve

Posted on July 14, 2014 12:32 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Claudia Kearney, MSW

Claudia Kearney

Claudia Kearney personifies NC State's commitment to serve. As a staff trainer for the college's Center for Family and Community Engagement, she provides outreach and training to all of North Carolina's 100 counties. When she's not traveling the state, she might be found developing training materials in collaboration with partners such as the NC Division of Social Services and UNC-Chapel Hill Jordan Institute.  She also represents the university and the center at national and international conferences and as a member of the Governor's Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Kearney is among five NC State staff members who have earned recognition for service from the university through the Awards for Excellence program. The winners were chosen from among 45 nominees from colleges and units across the NC State campus and will be considered for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the fall.

"Claudia's outstanding training is helping service providers across North Carolina partner in new ways with the families they serve -- and in ways that keep the well-being of children at the very center of all they do," says Kara Allen-Eckard, CFFACE training coordinator. "She is not afraid to ask tough questions, to roll up her sleeves to work hard, and to speak up on behalf of families, children, and youth in everything she does. Whether she's developing curricula, providing training, or collaborating with community partners, Claudia stays focused on meeting the needs of North Carolina's families, children, and youth.”

CFFACE is a public service and research center at NC State that fosters collaborations between families, their communities, and the academic resources of the university.  In addition to providing training and technical assistance to its community partners, the center works with interdisciplinary partners on the local, national, and global levels to improve family and community health and well-being.

 

 


This is What Science Looks Like at NC State

Posted on May 7, 2014 1:42 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Lori Foster Thompson, professor of psychology, makes sure to include adventure in her travels as here, surfing in Hawaii.

Lori Foster Thompson, professor of psychology, makes sure to include adventure in her travels as here, surfing in Hawaii.

NC State's research blog, the Abstract, has initiated a series of posts that highlight the diversity of researchers involved in science and technology at our university. Featured CHASS faculty include:

Lori Foster Thompson, a professor of psychology who specializes in industial-organizational psychology -- the science of work. Thompson says her particular focus area concerns "how to combine that science with the possibilities afforded by emerging information and communication technologies to empower and enable the well-being and development of people, and the nations they comprise, through satisfying, meaningful, productive work that plays to and builds on their unique strengths." Foster Thompson is an NGO representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Her research has been covered by outlets from Marketplace to Scientific American.

Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology who studies human bones. "I use my expertise to help law enforcement solve crimes," she writes. "I have worked on issues ranging from war crimes in Eastern Europe to political violence in Latin America to identifying remains in the wake of natural disasters. I also examine human remains to help us learn more about historic and prehistoric cultures; bones can tell us things that were never written down."

Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of interpersonal and health communication. Romo says she studies communication about uncomfortable issues, particularly surrounding money, weight, and healthy but deviant behaviors (e.g., not drinking alcohol) in hopes of helping people talk about these matters more effectively. Most recently, her research about educating girls about financial investing was featured in Time.


CHASS Women Lauded for Equity Efforts

Posted on March 17, 2014 7:12 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Four NC State women were recently honored with Equity for Women Awards at NC State’s Council on the Status of Women 2014 Sisterhood Dinner. Three of the four represent CHASS.

Deborah Hooker

Deborah Hooker

Deborah Hooker was surprised with a lifetime achievement award. Hooker, a teaching associate professor of English and director of the interdisciplinary CHASS women’s and gender studies program, was lauded for her contributions to equity on campus, to the Women’s and Gender Studies program, to the students in WGS, as well as her support of the Women of Welch Village. “The Council was so overwhelmed by nominations that celebrated Deborah that they created an entire new category for her,” says Hooker’s proud colleague, Cat Warren, associate professor of English. “She was given a well-deserved standing ovation from the more than 400 faculty, staff, and students present.” Read the complete nomination profile online.

Mary Wyer

Mary Wyer

The faculty award was presented to Mary Wyer, associate professor of psychology. Her nominators say that for the past 20 years, Wyer’s work “has illuminated the challenges to diversity in the STEM disciplines (and beyond) for both students and faculty. Her approach has been two-pronged: get gender studies research into scientific curriculaand explore biases among faculty and students who are currently in or contemplating those fields.” They credit Wyer with providing the insights and rationale for building much of NC State’s current diversity infrastructure with regard to women in STEM, saying that with three NSF-funded grants from 1996 to 2005, she built a coalition of science and engineering faculty committed to gender equity. Read the complete nomination profile online.

Suzanne Martin

Suzanne Martin

The student award was presented to Suzanne Martin, a graduate student who is president of the social work honor society Phi Alpha and a member of the social work department’s advisory board and committee on diversity, recruitment and retention. Read the complete nomination profile online.

Hats off to each of these women, and to  Shaefny Grays, assistant director of the College of Natural Resources's community for diversity. Grays received the staff award for leading community service initiatives focused on issues related to women such as domestic violence, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

See the photo and video gallery of the Sisterhood Dinner online.

 


February Student of the Month

Posted on February 13, 2014 7:30 am by dlleeder

student Elizabeth MedlinMeet Elizabeth Medlin, CHASS Student of the Month

Hometown: Monroe, NC

Class:  Senior

Majors:  International Studies (Latin America Concentration) and Spanish

Minor: Political Science

Certificate: NC State Global Perspectives Certificate

Sample Courses:

  • The United Nations and Global Order
  • Latin American Revolutions in the 20th Century
  • World Population and Food

Activities:

  • NC State Ethnographic Field School in Guatemala, Summer 2013
  • Lead Presenter, State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (Charlotte, NC), November 2013
  • Intern, North Carolina Immigrant Rights Project, 2013-present
  • Spanish Tutor, 2013-present
  • Employee, NC State Bookstores, 2012-13
  • Secretary, Spanish Club
  • Member, Pre-Law Student Association

Honors:

  • President, Sigma Iota Rho (International Studies Honor Society)
  • Member, Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish Honor Society)
  • Dean’s List, 2011-present

Postgraduate Plans:

Law school, and practice in immigration law.

What have been your favorite courses so far and who has influenced you most?

I enjoyed Dr. Trace Reid’s U.S. Constitutional Law because it inspired me, we engaged in mock trials, and I was exposed to writing papers in a way professional attorneys would.  Dr. Reid is extremely inviting to students, and gave me the tools every pre-law student needs.  In addition, I recall Dr. Richard Slatta’s U.S.-Latin American Relations, which opened my eyes to the world and challenged some of my preconceived notions. My two International Studies courses with Drs. Carol Lewald and Joseph Palis were also excellent. Dr. Palis has been notably friendly and engaging, and helped me set up my current internship.

What impact did studying abroad have on you?

Going to Guatemala helped increase my Spanish fluency tremendously, and I have a whole new level of enjoyment in my Spanish classes now.  Also, when you are in class, it is one thing to theorize about people and issues (such as the impact of globalization), but when you see a culture for yourself, it really comes to life.

What has been most challenging for you?

Learning to juggle everything.  I have an internship, classes, 2 majors and a minor, and I am graduating one semester early.  There is a lot to keep on top of.

What advice would you give incoming students?

Do things that fuel you.  Explore your passions and go beyond the minimum needed to get by.