“I’ll never forget my first day of freshman year at Allegheny College,” claims Alicia Watts. “It was move-in day, and I was so nervous and still unsure about whether I had made the right choice. But within the first couple of hours on campus I knew I made the right decision and met people who I’m sure I’ll be friends with forever. I love all the different types of people at Allegheny – everyone is unique in their own way.”
Now a more experienced member of Allegheny’s community, Alicia has flourished in her own way by becoming a Women’s Studies and History double major. Interested in how past events can influence the future, Alicia arrived at Allegheny wanting to be a History major, but she soon decided to add Women’s Studies courses to her academic path.
“As part of a course with Professor Shaw that focused on women and violence, I submitted a conference paper to the 2011 Central Pennsylvania Consortium Women’s Studies Conference on “Gender and Violence,” which was held at Dickinson College. The subject of my paper was structural violence, specifically that of police violence against sex workers, and it was based on Sex Work by Priscilla Alexander. I was so grateful when I found out I was chosen to present at the conference, and I had a great experience researching, interacting with my professor one-on-one, and sharing my ideas with the other conference attendees and participants. It was such an eye-opening experience to express my months of research and writing, and I did so as a sophomore among a panel of professors! The conference gave me so much confidence, especially when I received nods of approval from a professor on my panel who really engaged with my message.”
Matthew Bocchi’s favorite part of being a Women’s Studies major is having the freedom to explore a wide variety of interdisciplinary fields. “You can create your own focus,” Matthew explains, “but at the same time you have a number of different professors from different departments to guide you, each with their own experiences and viewpoints.”
Also an Art History major, Matthew’s personal interests lie where the two fields intersect: using a feminist lens to examine artists and artwork in general. Both the Women Studies and Art History departments work to help facilitate his academic pursuits, and Matthew credits this to the sense of community that can be found amongst Allegheny’s professors. “Everyone is willing to talk to you about everything from classes to life in general,” he says.
Lindsey Katora had enjoyed her history classes in high school but always felt like something was missing. “I never felt like I really knew about my own history,” she says. “I wanted to be a women’s studies major to understand where women have been and where they are going. I wanted to know more about what my female ancestors experienced.”
Lindsey feels one of the great strengths of the women’s studies program at Allegheny is the opportunity to take a variety of classes from multiple departments. Her junior seminar, “Women, Plants and Politics,” was particularly memorable. “From taking nature hikes to analyzing DNA under microscopes, I will always remember my experiences in that class,” she says.