Becoming Agents of Change

The first graduating class of Gender and Women’s Studies majors has gained critical skills and leadership experience essential to the 21st century.

“Our program helps prepare students – both men and women – for a world that has to understand gender in all of its strengths and complexities,” said Anne Brodsky, director of Gender and Women’s Studies and associate professor of psychology. “In addition, our classes stress that gender is just one important identity and that ethnicity, race, class, sexual orientation and disability are all critical elements as well.”

The Gender and Women’s Studies program is interdisciplinary, with affiliate faculty and staff from across the University, and emphasizes skills in critical thinking and writing. In addition to their academic endeavors, students get involved in a vast range of activities such as Women Involved in Leadership and Learning, the Student Government Association, the Women’s Center, Freedom Alliance and the Women’s Collective, among others. Students also participate in internships with a variety of organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee, and have an opportunity to study abroad to explore issues of gender and culture throughout the world.

Formerly known as women’s studies, the program also offers a minor, as well as undergraduate and post-baccalaureate certificates. “Gender and women’s studies has been a popular program at UMBC for 25 years,” said Brodsky. “We have students who have gone on to a variety of fields, including law, health, social service, public policy, activism and media.”

Jodi Kelber-Kaye, Gender and Women’s Studies faculty member and director of WILL, said, “The students in our first class have been committed to the program throughout their time at UMBC -- some even delayed graduating so that they could obtain the major. They are intelligent and articulate on issues of structure and equality, and I know they will continue to be leaders in the field.”

All of the students in the first Gender and Women’s Studies cohort are interested in pursuing graduate degrees now or in the future. Nardos Bellete, for example, will attend Loyola College of Maryland’s Master’s in Clinical Counseling program. Erin Fox will continue to work in the legal advocacy department at the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, while Tavia Wright is an assistant and project manager in the honors program at the Community College of Baltimore County. Kate Furek and Martine Richards hope to obtain positions with non-profit organizations.

Bellette said, “The Gender and Women's Studies program taught me to know and analyze the world around me and its inequalities, know those inequalities are changeable and find ways to make things better. The faculty see promise in students and turn them into agents of change, and this is what I hope to be as a therapist to individuals in need.”