When coming to the decision to major in Journalism, I concluded that my interests went beyond the confines of that major. I like reading, writing and leading the newspaper, but I also am an advocate for social justice, and I wanted at least a part of my education at Eastern to reflect this. My love of social justice brought me to become interested in minoring in Gender Studies, especially after I went to Maine for Seminar by the Sea to study gender disparities with a group of Eastern students led by faculty and alumni of Eastern. This minor allows me to learn about the passion I grew for gender equality after starting college. This knowledge has brought me to seek out gender equality in my other English classes.
I have learned that women in literature have unique perspectives that were not introduced to me until I sought out courses that were designed to showcase females authors and their stories. For example, the course on Postcolonial Women’s Novels (ENGL 225) opened my eyes by being a course dedicated to all female authors. This minor program has also taught me about intersectionality and how one’s gender is not the only sect of their identity that can hinder them from being privileged in society.
In Postcolonial Women’s Novels, the female authors were also women from previously colonized nations, so many of the authors were from different racial and ethnic groups that are not openly embraced in western society.
This course was life changing for me. I think that it is our job as a society to understand disparities in gender and how they interact with other disparities that can oppress individuals of a bigger marginalized group. In choosing to minor in Gender Studies, I learned about my own gender’s oppression, the discrimination of the other gender on the binary as well as the underrepresentation of non binary individuals.
However, I also felt that there was something else missing in my educational program. My love for advocating for gender equality was and is still very present in my life, but I did feel that another minor would fill this other social justice void I found within myself.
This is why I chose to add the minor of Social Welfare last spring. This minor allows me to put into practice helping individuals who are overlooked in the system. This allowed me to advocate for more marginalized groups other than just those defined by gender. Currently, I am taking Social Work with Families (SOWK 253) and Services to the Aging (SOWK 254). In Social Work with the Family, I am able to articulate the importance of making an all-inclusive definition of family, and I am able to understand that there are a lot of different variations of a family rather than just the mother, father and children “nuclear family” that society paints as “normal.” In addition, in Services to the Aging, I am able to learn how to better care for and understand our society’s aging community who are often overlooked.
Minors allow you to investigate topics that may not be part of your future career. For instance, you can be very interested in dance, but want to pursue a career as a teacher– dance can become your minor. Although I am biased and I think that everyone should choose Gender Studies and Social Welfare as possible minors, a minor program should be something that ‘grinds your gears’. Minors allow you to learn about topics that you are passionate about. Even if you decide on not incorporating them into your future career, minor programs still allow your brain to grow in passionate learning.
As a student of Eastern, I recommend that everyone, if their their major’s course load allows, pursue at least one minor.