"The skills I learned while in the Women and Gender Studies program have been invaluable in my short time in the workplace and in my lifestyle."
Gabrielle Richard, a 2012 graduate, is currently working in Phoenix, Arizona, as an Arizona Prevention Fellow for the Arizona Department of Health Services, in the Division of Behavioral Health.
She is specifically working to prevent mental health issues, such as suicide and substance abuse.
"The skills I learned while at USD in the women and gender studies program have been invaluable in my short time in the workplace and in my lifestyle," Richard says. "At work, we serve many people from all over Arizona, and cultural competency is a must in my line of work. A lot of times, people don't realize that women are in fact their own, unique culture, and to work with them, one must be able to understand where they come from."
The women and gender studies program armed Gabrielle with the knowledge to spot gender inequalities, deconstruct norms, as well as try her best to break through the glass ceiling when it comes to successful career women.
Gabrielle was an addiction studies major while at USD, and the classes she took tied into the foundations she learned in her women and gender studies program.
Richard hopes to continue working to provide better mental health services to all, especially women, and one day would like to attain her master's degree in a related field.
"Women and Gender Studies classes have given me a keen eye for inequality, especially in terms of gender, sex and sexual orientation."
Katarina Gombocz, a 2011 graduate, is currently obtaining her M.A. in cultural anthropology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.
The critical skills she learned from her Women and Gender Studies at USD have helped her in graduate school by deconstructing assumptions about sex and gender, especially cross-culturally.
"Cultural anthropology depends a lot on critical evaluations of hierarchy, inequality and hegemonic assumptions, and though my minor I learned to look at the world through a critical lens that turns popular cultural beliefs about the cultural construction of sex and gender upside down," she says.
Since women and gender studies and cultural anthropology share the notion that sex and gender are different (but certainly related) categories and that both can be construed differently based on any number of cultural understandings, Gombocz has been able to maintain the necessary analytic skills in her seminars in graduate school.
Her women and gender studies classes at the University of South Dakota sensitized her to many of the issues she encounters in her day-to-day life as well, such as having a keen eye for inequality, especially in terms of gender, sex and sexual orientation.
"Women and Gender Studies program has allowed me to take classes over a variety of subject areas."
Abbey Jones, a 2010 graduate, has won a 2010-2011 Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Indonesia. She anticipates gaining experience as a teacher, and a deeper insight into how the mind perceives language.
Her women and gender studies expertise, she says, will be instrumental in understanding the Indonesian culture from the standpoint of third-wave feminism, which emphasizes multicultural approaches.
"Many may believe Indonesia to be a place where women are mistreated because it is a Muslim country," Jones says. "My women and gender studies minor has taught me to understand Indonesians from a non-essentialized viewpoint, which will allow me to integrate myself into the culture, rather than judge it from afar."
After her return from Indonesia, Jones plans to pursue her interests in writing, editing and teaching to "create awareness of social issues and help others." Seeking advanced degrees is also in the stars, she says.
Jones credits her minor with helping her look critically at the world around her.
"The women and gender studies program has allowed me to take classes over a variety of subject areas, which I think is one of the greatest things about the women's movement—it exists everywhere," she says.
Abbey was awarded a 2010-2011 Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Indonesia.
"Women and Gender Studies classes sensitized me to many of the issues I encountered in my studies."
Anne Rosenbaum, who graduated in 2009, is now a law student at the State University of New York – Buffalo. She hopes that a law degree will allow her to help people in need and influence the creation of new government policies.
Her women and gender studies classes at the University of South Dakota sensitized her to many of the issues she encounters in her studies, such as equal protection rights and violence against women.
"This interest has helped make some of these dry law classes much more compelling for me," she says. Rosenbaum foresees two possible paths after graduation. One is working for a nonprofit advocating the interests of women, children, families and/or non-heterosexual people.
The other is practicing non-traditional family law – helping LGBT families, handling cases involving reproductive technology and working with single parents or grandparents who are the primary caretakers of minor children.
She is getting experience under her belt by serving as a student advocate on the Buffalo Human Rights Center and as article editor of the Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law and Social Policy.
But a major shift in her interests has taken place since she graduated from USD, after she saw what she describes as "phenomenal equality and way of life" for men and women in Norway during a summer 2009 course at the International Summer School in Oslo.
"In Norway, I witnessed gender equality in ways that many Americans never conceived of," she says. "This got me very excited to study United States law and policy now that I had solutions in mind and not merely awareness of problems."
The experience in Norway led her from interest in women's rights per se to advocacy of healthy and equal parenting.
"While I had learned that women's subordination began in the home, in the family, it had never been clearer to me that this is where the solution may lie as well," Rosenbaum says. For example, substantial paternity leave could allow fathers to be seen as equal caretakers and women as equals in the working world. Witnessing equality at an early age, children might grow up without gender stereotypes.
"Perhaps the family approach will not be as successful for achieving equality in the United States as it was in Norway," she says. "I still think it's worth a try."
Her summer 2010 internship at the National Association of Counsel for Children in Denver appears to support what she brought back from Norway: much of the child welfare law intersects with gender equality issues. For example, the American job market forces many single mothers into low-paying jobs or unemployment; the resulting poverty often leads to neglect of children.
"This is one of the many unfortunately fascinating kinds of facts that I want to work at fixing," Rosenbaum says.