Women and Gender Studies alumni visit current students

Najee Walker, Reporter

People often wonder how a minor can help their major and what difference they can make in the world. The Women and Gender Studies (WGS) faculty members took it upon themselves to invite influential SUNY Buffalo State Alumni to campus to discuss the differences they’ve made since graduating with a minor in Women and Gender Studies.

Samantha Nephew, who graduated in 2011, is now the marketing manager of PUSH Green in Buffalo. Since joining PUSH, Nephew worked on promoting sustainable, “green” living in Buffalo and is working on becoming a certified doula, as well as working on her next graduate degree. She also has been working alongside PUSH Buffalo to fight wage crisis and is an advocate of the $15 minimum wage.

Moira Madden, a more recent graduate, volunteered for many years before moving on to Planned Parenthood. She is an educator who works alongside other organizations to promote safe sexual practice in Erie County.

Emily Terrana began working with the New York Civil Liberties Union. She previously worked as a youth mentor at the Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York. She said her work in the women and gender studies program led her to lead a group of Western New York feminists, which has grown over the few years it’s been together.

Jennifer Hunt, an associate professor and coordinator of the WGS program, thought it would benefit to have these three women speak about the program, and how it helped them and the community.

Hunt spoke highly of the three and said the talk fits in with the “Year of the Innovator” theme.

“Innovation in terms of helping people and helping society,” Hunt said.

At the request of Hunt, the three women came together on April 23, to talk about the work they’ve done in the community and how it connects back to the influence the WGS program had on them.

The discussion also focused in on more statistical evidence on whats been found while these women were in their places of work. Some examples were Erie County dropping to the second highest rate of sexually transmitted infections in New York State — right behind the Borough of The Bronx in New York City.

Terrana’s work found that women have been getting Depo-Provera shots after having birth, without consent. Depo-Provera is a birth control shot. It can be detrimental, should a woman give birth less than three months after getting the shot.

The WGS program, the three agreed, gave them the critical thinking skills necessary to get where they are. They’ve applied the lessons they’ve learned to gender and beyond.

For Madden, who talks often about sex with youth, the WGS has made it easier for her to talk about other “taboo” topics, she said and adding that the classes taught her to keep and open mind.

“They gave me acces to other schools of thought,” Madden said.

Overall, the three women thanked Buffalo State for their WGS program and said students should look for chances to explore these kinds of programs.

“Explore independent studies programs,” Terrana said. “Take as many classes as you can.”

Nephew spoke about the compassion you gain when you learn through the WGS minor program.

“Compassion is the key,” she said. “Hold on to it. Compassion helps you stay motivated.”

Madden urged that, while the students’ role is important, that teachers also take an interest in their students.

“Continue to be a part of students’ lives,” Madden said. “Being a mentor to students is important.”

“I will take your interns,” Terrana said chiming in afterward.


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