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Women’s and Gender Studies News

Social Justice, Sustainability, and the F Word

Posted on May 1, 2015 7:04 am by Katie McCreary

Lauren Frey

Lauren Frey '17 studied abroad in Solola, Guatemala, conducting family planning research with NC State's Ethnographic Field School.

Lauren Frey takes the F word seriously. So seriously that she created a course around it. For that and other work to promote feminism (that F word) and gender equality on campus, in the community and internationally, NC State’s Council on the Status of Women awarded Frey ’17 with its Equity for Women student award given for outstanding leadership in establishing equity for women at NC State University.

Frey, who is majoring in Environmental Sciences and Women’s and Gender Studies, with a minor in Anthropology, is widely recognized as a student who takes bold steps to address contemporary issues. She believes that environmental and social issues are connected and have profound effects on national and international communities.

“Lauren Frey is no ordinary student,” her nominator says. “She is on a mission.”

“I am interested in environmental issues and would love to do work in research or advocacy,” Frey says. “I also care deeply about social justice issues. Sexism, racism, homophobia, ablism, and many other forms of discrimination continue to adversely affect many people today. Everything is connected; these identities intersect and these social issues are connected with environmental issues.”

To put her convictions into action, Frey co-chairs Service Raleigh and co-sponsors the Civic Engagement Initiative titled “The Empowerment Project.” She also makes time to volunteer with both NC State’s Women's Center and InterAct of Wake County.

About that F word program: Frey designed what has become a University Honors Program Academy course to respond to the ignorance she encountered around the topic of feminism. “The curriculum includes the waves and types of feminism and aspects of society relevant to the movement,” she says. “For example, we had units on beauty and the media, language and gender, and the wage gap.”

Frey plans on pursuing her doctorate in anthropology. “I am not quite sure what my future jobs or career will look like,” she says. “I do know there’s a lot of work to be done. I would be happy doing many different types of work as long as it contributes to gender equality and environmental sustainability.”

More of Frey’s achievements have been featured in a Park Scholar story. You can also watch her 2014 TEDxNCSU talk.

By Katie McCreary, Communication Intern

Internship Highlights Role of Nonprofits in Global Affairs

Posted on October 2, 2014 7:13 am by dlleeder

student selena amatya

Selena Amatya

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences encourages students to participate in internships that help them explore career options and acquire real-world experiences. In this Q & A, a student shares how her work with Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief agency started in 1998, intersects with knowledge she gained in the classroom.

Selena Amatya is a senior who is majoring in International Studies with a minor in Nonprofit Studies.

How did you locate this internship?

I found it through a faculty member - Dr. James Kiwanuka-Tondo in the Communication Department. I was considering different options for my summer and he encouraged me to reach out to Stop Hunger Now. Even though they didn't have a formalized internship, they worked with me and we were able to put together an internship that fit.

Briefly describe the internship.

My main responsibility was to complete the research needed for Stop Hunger Now's business plan for their expansion project in India. Day to day activities included international travel planning, reimbursements, responding to international volunteer requests, and other administrative duties.

How did your internship relate to your major, minor, career goals and personal interests?

This internship definitely has provided me with real-life, applicable knowledge: being hands-on and learning what goes into a business plan and expanding to other countries. Also, attending meetings with development discussions and staff meetings with the CEO was a huge advantage. My understanding of international cultures and thinking as a global citizen allowed me to contribute as well as ask meaningful questions. As a nonprofit minor, I was able to understand how a nonprofit worked and how all departments provide essential contributions to the success of an organization.

What are some things you learned?

I learned how many different parts to an organization there are. We often overlook the tasks that are necessary to keep an organization running smoothly. There are so many components that work together to maintain the functionality. I learned specifically how all organizations are also experiencing constant change. While Stop Hunger Now is growing and doing very well, they are always trying to learn how to do things better.

What were some of the challenges?

Well, I've never really had a full-time job like this. It was a big taste of the real world where you are given a task and just expected to complete it along with the other day to day things that come up. Additionally, going to work every day and being in a professional setting was a learning curve for me.

What were some of the rewards?

There were so many rewards it is hard to condense it. The biggest reward was being able to build incredible relationships with the people I worked with, including my supervisors. Their ability to guide me, encourage me, and really help me develop my skills was incredible. It was such a hands-on experience, where I knew that everything I was doing had a direct impact. I am proud to know that I was part of expanding an organization and had a hand in seeing the growth of an organization that is doing wonderful things.

Interview conducted by Dara Leeder.

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.