Intersections of identity have always been of interest to me. As a black woman, I added the Women’s and Gender Studies concentration as a means of exploring how to articulate my own identity and to reify my right to claim womanhood. Oftentimes, women are normalized to be exclusively white, and I took on the study of gender and women’s rights to gain an understanding of how black women have fought for their rights historically throughout the women’s movement. I believe it is important for women to feel like they have the rights to their womanhood—they have a right to be seen, they have a right to be heard—regardless of the other identities they may hold. I also believe there is power in the act of claiming power and to call myself a woman is an act of claiming power. All of these beliefs were fairly new when I came into the WGS program, but I found that my classes and my professors were as invested in expanding these ideas as I was. The WGS program is a way for anyone (male, female, or nonbinary) to explore their identity and a space that will inspire you to jump out of your comfort zone into a new kind of truth.
My Women’s and Gender Studies Concentration at Drake University served as a turning point in my life since I always knew I wanted to help people, but I was unsure how to channel that energy. Through numerous WGS classes, I learned about community needs and how people used their voices to create change. The independent study opportunity gave me the chance to delve into the topic of human trafficking. I investigated the topic on a level that undergraduate curriculum did not otherwise provide. The Women’s and Gender Studies faculty encouraged and guided me, facilitating my internship at the Justice Restoration Center, which is a law firm that works with human trafficking survivors. The program also taught me about leadership in activism through opportunities to create awareness events and panels. My WGS concentration was a formative experience for me.
Currently, I attend Georgetown University Law Center, pursuing a JD degree. Upon graduation, I will specialize in work against gender violence, specifically sexual assault and human trafficking. I am a Public Interest Fellow, and while at Georgetown, I will build a public interest network and become active with the work in DC for social issues. My background in Women’s and Gender Studies forms the lens that I bring to the law, and it helps me find the intersectional effects and applications of each statute or case. I will carry my WGS experience from Drake with me through my classes, advocacy, and activism as I continue forward with my career.
As a Drake alumna with a passion for gender and health equality, my Women's and Gender Studies coursework continues to fuel my drive to change the world. At Brandeis University in Boston, I recently earned my Master of Public Policy degree, which I focused on women's health. I chose this focus in order to improve health care access and quality for survivors of intimate partner (domestic) violence, as well as for other disadvantaged populations. To that end, I recently worked for the national Alliance of Community Health Plans in Washington, DC, where I coordinated with health insurance agencies across the country to share their challenges and collectively build on their successes. I'm also completing a nonprofit-focused M.B.A., to more deeply understand the business, financial, and strategic foundations necessary for this systemic change.
My WGS courses at Drake, especially Nancy Berns' life-changing Gender and Violence class, deeply influenced my graduate school papers and projects (which you can find at www.caitlin-feuer.com/portfolio), as well as my overall career path. Most importantly, my WGS courses left me with a deep understanding of how to address systemic inequality and injustice, and I'm proud to carry the Drake Legacy into all of my current endeavors. Go Bulldogs!
I've worked at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood education and care non-profit organization for over 5 years. In my work at the Ounce, I support training for staff that work at daycares which receive Birth-to-three Prevention Initiative funding. I find that what I learned at Drake University regarding the intersections of sexism, racism, classism, and the cycle of poverty prepared me to work in the non-profit field.
I'm pursuing a Masters in Non-Profit Management at DePaul University beginning this fall. I've been a volunteer at Open Books, a non-profit literacy organization for over 3 years and joined the Open Books Associate Board in June 2014. I love to read, travel, cook, throw theme parties, and take photographs.
As I reflect on my undergraduate experience, my concentration in women’s studies at Drake is one of the most valuable learning opportunities I have been afforded. Whether it was dynamic discussion in the classroom or my internship experience at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, every day I was challenged to be a better feminist and ally by faculty and peers alike. After finishing my BA in English, women’s studies, and anthropology at Drake in 2013 I went on to earn an MA in student affairs administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015. At UNL I wrote my master’s thesis on the intersectionality of masculine performativity and feminist ideology, or how masculine-identified students develop as feminists.
After finishing my graduate work, I began work at Morningside College in a dual role where I advise the programming board responsible for large-scale campus events and also oversee the daily operations of a traditional residence hall. In my role at Morningside I work directly with students as they transition to college and develop deeper understandings of who they are as people. I also bring meaningful events to campus that promote diverse perspectives and expose students to new ways of understanding the world around them. What started as an academic concentration at Drake has become a passion driving me toward new challenges and opportunities in the field of higher education.
In June 2014, I became the E-Learning and Instructional Technology Librarian at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT Libraries, I aid in the instruction of research and information literacy skills via digital learning platforms.
My involvement in Drake's Women's Studies program was the launchpad for my careers in reproductive healthcare and librarianship. To fulfill the requirements of the Concentration, I interned with Planned Parenthood, which led to full-time employment working in databases to support its advocacy and outreach department. The intersection of information and social justice inspired me to seek a Master's in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following graduate school, I was an Information Literacy Fellow at the University of West Georgia (UWG) where I taught undergraduate, credit-bearing courses on research and using the library. While at UWG, I co-led Safe Zone training sessions, educating faculty, staff, and students on creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ individuals.
While my direct involvement in women and gender studies has waned, it remains a constant influence in my professional life. These courses taught me about privilege, empowerment, and the politics of access to essential resources. As a librarian, all of these lessons inform my work in supporting my profession's mission of championing intellectual freedom—the equal, unrestricted access to information.