My "Pointless" Women's And Gender Studies Major Has Changed My Life

My "Pointless" Women's And Gender Studies Major Has Changed My Life

The Women's and Gender Studies department at my university has helped me so much.


I graduated a year early from New Bern High School at 17 years old and I was nowhere near ready to start college. Knowing that I was going to move three and a half hours away from my family and start a whole new life was insanely fun but I didn't think that I could succeed in college. Luckily, I got into the school that I wanted to get into, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My entire life I have wanted to work with music but it was not until high school that I realized I wanted to be behind the scenes of music. When applying to colleges, I applied to Communication Studies programs so that I could eventually go into a career in Public Relations in the music industry.

My first semester at UNC Greensboro, I took an Intro to Women's and Gender Studies class and it changed my entire life. My professor walked in on the first day of class wearing a three-piece suit, a bowtie, had a mohawk, and she was a self-proclaimed "giant lesbian". This was the first time in my entire life that I had ever seen a woman in power wearing a "men's" suit, have a mohawk, and identify as a lesbian. For the first time ever, I saw someone that looked and acted like me and I was in shock. Admittedly, when I got out of class that day I told everyone I knew that my professor was a lesbian and that was the coolest thing I've ever seen. Looking back, my professor being queer probably isn't the biggest thing to get excited over but when you come from a very small, religious, and conservative town as I do- it's pretty amazing.

The rest of the semester went by and I learned about heroes like Judith Butler, Marsha P. Johnson, Bell Hooks, and Audre Lorde. I was in awe every day that I went to that class, the assigned readings were never enough, and the class was always too short. About a month before the semester ended I went to my freshman advisor to register for classes and I went in planning on adding a Media Studies major to help me achieve my dream of working with music.

When I got into advising I was told that a Media Studies major was almost impossible for me with my Communication Studies major but I could do a Media Studies minor. I agreed to the minor since it was easier and it would still help me. My advisor was looking over my grades and noticed my WGS class was my highest grade and asked me if I liked the class. I told him I was in love with it and the program was amazing. An hour later, I walked out with a Women's and Gender Studies and a Communication Studies double major and a Media Studies minor.

Not everyone was as excited about my new major as I was. When I told my mom about my new decision she didn't see the point and was worried that I was going to overload myself. She also said that it had nothing to do with what I had planned for my life. Honestly, the way she saw this crushed me. I needed her to be as proud as I was because this was my new "thing".

When asked why I did this I made an on-the-spot speech that I still live by today. My WGS major means more to me than a Communication Studies major ever will. Whether I use my WGS major or not, I have learned more about important things and causes that I stand and fight for than more people ever will. I have had the opportunity to learn about people who have fought for Women's rights and for LGBTQ+ rights; I have learned about people who have fought for me and my rights. My time spent studying these topics has lead me to learn more about my identity and has forced me to come out to myself and to others in a whole new way. This major has changed my life in ways that nothing else ever could. I have had the opportunity to learn the experiences of others through textbooks and through the stories of my peers. During all the horrors that have plagued our society over the past three years, I have had a family to pull me through. The WGS department has provided a safe space to calm my fears and give me a space to talk through things. My major has let me learn who I am and who I can become.

Next semester, Spring 2019, I will be taking my final WGS course, the Women's and Gender Studies Senior Capstone. In just a few months I will be done with one of my majors. A lot has changed, I have dropped my Media Studies minor since adding it, I have realized a whole new part of my identity, I have learned so much about so many people, and I have had an experience I will never forget. These past three years have changed my life, as has this department.

Thank you, mom, for supporting me through my crazy major. Thank you, UNC Greensboro, for having my crazy major. And thank you to the entire WGS department for changing my life.

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

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Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 49

Language is a powerful tool.


Welcome back! We made our way to a meeting with Dr. Shikaki, a Palestinian demographer--basically, that means he takes polls to see what the population's opinion is. It also means he can see how the opinion changes, as the polls started decades ago.

Again, as I talk about his message, keep in mind that this is his unique narrative, and it is different from other narratives out there--both on the Palestinian and Israeli side. He does give a very factual talk, though, due to the nature of his job. He essentially takes all the narratives of everyone else to craft a blanket-statement narrative; however, we should keep in mind that blanket-statements are almost never 100% accurate.

In addition, because he is able to write the questions being asked in his polls, there could be certain narratives left out. Of course, if you've taken any statistics class, you know about nonresponse bias and other biases that come out of censuses and samples. To my knowledge, Dr. Shikaki's polls are only in the West Bank, so Gazan Palestinians aren't even included here.

The first thing he tells us is that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are dissatisfied with their government, the Palestinian Authority. The approval rating for the PA is only about 20-25%, and 80% of Palestinians surveyed said that the government is corrupt in some way. A large group of secular Palestinians said that they support the liberal values that are associated with democracy, such as press freedom, gender equality, minority rights, and most importantly, regularly-held elections.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Palestinians who support a democratic political system (because they are dissatisfied with the current corruption, as the current system is not giving them a very high standard of living) rose to over 80%.

Some liberal social values are not as widely accepted because many of these liberal values are a very Westernized way of living, and Arab culture differs from Western culture in many ways; neither is better than the other. However, Palestinians do want the freedom of press and less corruption in political parties. Currently, they do not think they have an independent judiciary.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Palestinians can be split, for the most part, into "nationalists," who are mostly secular, and "Islamists," who are mostly religiously observant and non-secular. Nationalists believe in a separation of the church and state, and they are first and foremost Palestinians (compared to Islamists, who are first and foremost Muslims--and Palestinians second). Fatah is the largest political faction within the nationalists.

Within nationalism, there are mainstream nationalists and leftist nationalists. The overwhelming majority of nationalists are mainstream nationalists. They believe that though there is a separation of church and state, there should be cooperation between the state and religion; both can work together. It is not an antagonistic relationship. 55% of the entire Palestinian public would identify with mainstream nationalism (15% would identify with leftist nationalism, and 30% would identify with Islamism).

The smaller section of nationalism is leftist nationalism. They believe that the state can eradicate the importance placed on religion if need be. On the other end is Islamism, which believes that state and religion cannot be separated. Parliament cannot rule in a way that is opposed to Islamic rule and Muslim values. Again, they are first and foremost Muslims, and after that comes their identity of Palestinians and Arabs.

They show more support for a rule by Hamas in the West Bank because Hamas tends to have similar values as them. In the West Bank, about a third of the population supports Hamas over the PA. In Gaza, there is higher support for Hamas, and Hamas was actually democratically elected after the second intifada.

The public in the West Bank sometimes blames nationalists for corruption, and since nationalists are associated with the current government, Hamas could actually win a popular vote right now--which is why the PA has been holding off elections (which, to Palestinians, is another sign of corruption).

Now that we've seen how Palestinians view themselves, we need to see how Palestinians view their Israeli neighbors--and how they view the possibility of peace. It's a lot to unpack, so this concludes this chapter, and I will be talking about it in the next section!

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