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Student & Alumni Spotlight

Tonya Huynh

Tonya Huynh

Majors: WGG

As a WGSS major, I am able to learn about the essential theories that have helped to guide and shape various activisms that are centered on marginalized empowerment. Though, it is not just about learning the theory, it is simultaneously about how you engage with it and put it to practice within our social/political reality! The WGSS faculty at UH and their scholarships have all encouraged me to pursue a growing field. It inspires me to expand my knowledge on the subject and utilize it in my approach within my activism, art, education, and career.

Alia Siddiqui

Alia Siddiqui

Majors: English

My name is Alia Siddiqui and I am currently studying English Creative Writing Poetry at the University of Houston. I am a woman of color and a first-generation immigrant from Pakistan and a mother of three, who get to resume her education after the gap of nineteen years. Women Gender and Sexuality studies is my minor and also my inspiration in my creative work. WGSS has not only alleviated my confidence in my voice, views and personality but also enabled me to embrace my identity. I was able to break the taboos and stereotypes attached to women of the third world. My determination is to pass on the support to women like me and help them find their voices just the way I received the support from my mentors at WGSS.

It’s because of their belief and their constant guardianship that enabled me to receive the H.E.B Grant, and it is because of that grant I could get more time to focus on my studies, my creative work and my professional internship at Gulf Coast Literary Magazine. I am also able to spend more time with my family as well and I don’t have to work for extended hours to pay for my tuition.

Nnenna Umelloh

Nnenna Umelloh

Majors: Marketing and Liberal Studies

I am a senior at the University of Houston. I am in the Honors College pursuing a B.B.A in Marketing and a B.A in Liberal Studies. October 2017 marks the one year anniversary of my consulting business, Achievement Consulting by Nnenna Umelloh, and non-profit, Empower! My background in WGSS has become the foundation of my non-profit, Empower! Empower! is designed to empower young women and girls to become independent young women.The scholarship has been monumental in providing financial support in my academic career. I can pour myself into my classes and being an integral part of academia. I have the freedom of exploring my interests fully because I don't have to worry about how to pay for class. Thank you so much for investing in my education! It means the world to me!

Lauren Erickson

Lauren Erickson

Majors: Anthropology

I'm Lauren Erickson. I'm a Houston native who's been doing school for a long time. I worked my way, slow and steady, through Lone Star College and then University of Houston where I finally earned my Bachelor of Science in Anthropology in May of 2017. During my undergrad, I took several classes with Dr. Quinn of the WGSS department and my life was changed. I gained an invaluable understanding of power structures and the way they permeate the past as well as the ways they work today. It is because of these classes and Dr. Quinn that I decided to pursue as Master of Public Policy from the University of Houston. This fall I received a scholarship from HEB for which I am so grateful. I feel so privileged to live in a city so diverse as Houston and attend a school which is just as diverse. This city and the people of the University of Houston teach me so much everyday. Thank you HEB for being the most Texas business I know and for supporting the absolutely wonderful WGSS department at UH.

Sylvia A. Fernandez

Sylvia A. Fernández

Majors: Hispanic Studies and WGSS

Sylvia A. Fernández is a Ph.D. student in the Hispanic Studies Department-Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a Research Fellow with Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage. Her research on U.S. Latina/o Literature focuses on the subjectivity-objectivity of women of color on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands through literature and newspapers published along the border cities during the twentieth and twenty-first century. As the awardee of the Blanche Espy Chenoweth Graduate Fellowship, she traveled to border cities’ libraries to research newspaper archives to identify women’s literature and analyze women’s social construction. This scholarship has given her the opportunity to expand her digital humanities project, Borderlands Archives Cartography (BAC), by presenting it at different conferences in her field of study and other disciplines. With the WGSS Travel Grant she will present a research paper titled, “El testimonio de exilio de Alicia Partnoy: Desaparecer durante y reaparecer después de una dictadura” in the XXVII Congreso Anual de la Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica (AILCFH) that will take place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Sylvia A. Fernandez

Livia Garza

Majors: WGSS and Liberal Studies

I am a junior in the Honors College studying Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Liberal Studies with concentrations in History and Economics. I strongly believe both of my majors provide the theoretical academic background I will need going in graduate school for a Master in Library Science degree. Eventually I hope to be an archivist at an academic institution. Being a first generation college student as well as coming from a single parent household, my Elizabeth S. Chenoweth Undergraduate Scholarship awarded by the WGSS department has been indispensable in continuing to fund my education and pursue my academic goals.

Sara Rehman

Sara Rehman

Majors: Political Science & WGSS

My experience as a WGSS major has been empowering, beautiful, and impactful for me, not just a student, but as a human. My first WGSS class opened my eyes to how much this world intersects, to the layers of oppression and suppression that affect everyone’s daily lives--and to the possibilities of change. The program has inspired me to become a local activist in Houston, working and tackling issues I am passionate about, including: reproductive rights, sexual health awareness, and political involvement--and the list does go on. With WGSS’s nurturing and encouragement, I’ve become an SGA Senator, WGSS Student President, a community activist & CLASS COOGS Event Chairwoman!

WGSS has taught me to be confident, empowered by my voice and by others’ voices, as well as the importance of working together on civic engagement and awareness in our personal and political spheres.

Taylor Amador

Taylor Amador

Major: WGSS

I began as a psychology major with no real direction--I only knew I wanted to help people. My second term, I took Intro to Women’s Studies and devoured the material: for the first time I found myself looking forward to class and really engaging with course reading material. As I wrote academic papers, my creative writing and discussions in all aspects of my life transformed. It was so exciting, I reached out to my Intro professor about her path and her research. Very helpfully, she informed me that there was a WGSS major at UH. I made an appointment the next week to switch majors.

Since that first class, I have continued to be amazed by the quality of the professors. Intersectionalities of Race, Age, Class and Gender was a turning point, as was Feminist Theory, which pushed me to think critically and write passionately. These courses have not only served as avenues of education, but as healers. I leave every semester feeling like I’ve grown in some aspect. I can’t wait to apply all the lessons I’ve learned from this department into my career.

Kyra Raine Guerrero

Major: WGSS

As a woman, WGSS has empowered me to be self-sufficient in my pursuit for knowledge. As a student, this program has provided a plethora of resources for me to be successful. As an activist, it has raised the bar for what I am truly capable of. I am thankful to be a young Houstonian with access to such rich information and dedicated educators.

I have been exposed to vast amounts of new data about diverse cultures and paradigms through this program. I have heard many stories. My classmates vary in gender, sexuality, color, & major, but we all connect through a core goal of compassion. What I have learned through WGSS transcends the identities that have worked against me for so long. For that, I am eternally grateful and eager to apply my knowledge within my community!

Cecilia Turchetti

Cecilia Turchetti

Major: WGSS
Minor: English
Current: Law Student

In Fall 2015 the WGSS Program celebrated, when Cecilia Turchetti walked across the stage as the first student to graduate from UH with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

This is a major for people who want to make the world a safer place.The courses give us the tools to understand inequality and from there we can move forward to do something about it.

After graduating, I continued to volunteer at the Houston Area Women's Center, while applying to law school -- and I’ve been accepted to a great one! I plan to pursue a focus in family law to help individuals in violent relationships get safe custody agreements and divorce settlements. Eventually I would like to pursue policy making in the same area of the law. I think the lasting impact WGSS has had is quite clear in my case, and it has made me capable of better grasping the variety of lived experiences people come with when they seek assistance. This grasp has, I feel, made me better at empathizing and providing viable solutions for survivors’ problems.

Gayatri Joshi

Gayatri Joshi

Majors: Public Health, 2016
Minor: Women’s Studies
Currently: Social Work Graduate Student

WGSS courses changed my life path, personally and professionally. In the Intro to Women’s Studies course, I learned about women’s history, gender stereotypes, women in various cultures and much more, walking out of each class meeting with sets of new information. Slowly, I noticed that the courses were changing my perspectives about things that I saw occurring around me every day, for instance, gender pay inequality. I discovered my inner passion for advocating for SouthAsian women and children who struggle with domestic and/or sexual abuse.

Regina Vitolo

Regina Vitolo

Majors: History; World Cultures & Literatures
Minor: Music History

WGSS courses have had a profound impact on my learning experience at the University of Houston. Not only have WGSS classes reframed my intellectual approach to studying the past, providing me with an in-depth understanding of the crucial roles women have played in big picture historical moments, but they’ve have also inspired me to continue mining the rich history of women in and out of the archives. I aim to one day contribute to Women’s History scholarship, and WGSS has provided me with the confidence, skills, and focus I need to pursue my academic goals.

Emma Fritz

Emma Fritz

Major: Communications

In one semester the ways in which I saw the world changed. WGSS has taught me to think critically, not just about women’s issues, but about the world in general. These skills are truly invaluable, much more so than I could have learned from a math, science, or art class. One way in which I describe my experience in Women’s Studies to those deciding whether or not to take the course is to say “After years of learning about HIStory, we start learning about HERstory.” In one semester I learned about the courageous, and largely unknown, women who sacrificed their lives to improve the lives of every woman. I will forever be grateful for the experience and worldview that WGSS has brought to me.

Mariam Mohamed

Mariam Mohamed

Major: Mathematics
Minor: Women’s Studies

For my fellow female undergrads, in the STEM world the gender barrier is not always definitive, but it is ubiquitous. Given that, I fell right into minoring in Women’s Studies after I took my first introductory course. Women’s Studies isn’t just about women. It delves deeper into the intricate layers of identity and allows us to analyze how racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, etc. are intertwined. We can break down and confront intersecting oppressions and identify and acknowledge the systemic problems that create them. This minor has allowed me to acknowledge and classify the interlocking systems of power in our society.

Sarah Pina

Sarah Piña

Hispanic Studies, US Hispanic Literature, PhD Candidate
WGSS Women’s Studies Graduate Certificate

Generous scholarships from WGSS and Friends of Women’s Studies, have given me incredible opportunities to expand and share my research. With WGSS support, I’ve travelled to international conferences with leading scholars in my field and conducted extensive archival research—crucial for both my dissertation and my other publications—in collections at universities across the US and in Cuba. I am forever grateful to WGSS and Friends of Women's Studies for their support!

Piña is a CLASS Dissertation Completion Fellow 2016-2017.