Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
at Miami University
Student Profile: Jenna Saponaro
Finding My WGS Major
"As a freshman, I was an undecided major. I had a multitude of broad and varied interests and wanted to take many different types of courses throughout my 4 years. The summer after my sophomore year, I took classes at Miami, including WMS 201 [Introduction to Women's Studies], which fulfilled a requirement of the Miami Plan. I was blown away by the course. I was introduced to so many new concepts concerning gender, class, race, and the intersection of these socially constructed institutions.
"Now called Women, Gender, & Sexuality studies, the courses in this program encompass many fields, including history, sociology, political science, and religion, with a focus and concentration on women. The WGS courses I've taken have taught me to view issues from a global and local perspective. I've learned to think critically and independently, and I've been encouraged and challenged to analyze complex issues and theories and to interpret them in an intelligent and articulate way.
"These courses have prepared me for my life after college by demanding and incorporating cultural awareness in an era ruled by globalization. As a senior, I feel confident and prepared to interview with companies and organizations that represent various fields, because my academic background in the humanities shows that I have strong writing, reading, and communication skills and that I can be adaptable to many industries."
WGS Senior Capstone: Inspiring Change
One of the best and most rewarding experiences I've had as a WGS major has been through my senior capstone course. I was thrilled to find out that the professor who I now consider an inspiration and mentor taught the WGS capstone. Through this course, I was able to combine my passion for food and environmental sustainability with social issues. This class called for a transformation within myself and society, and I saw this as an opportunity to create an event that would inspire change in the Miami and Oxford communities.
"The Farm Food Crawl [PDF], which I planned, took place on November 13, 2011. A group of 30 students, faculty, and Oxford community members visited 2 local farms as well as the MOON Co-Op market. After the "crawl," we enjoyed a meal from the food we had procured and learned about the importance of local and organic food.
"We visited Locust Run Farm where we learned about sustainable and organic farming practices and picked fresh lettuce straight from the ground. Next, we went to Artistry Farm where we saw how a certified cheese maker cares for milking goats and makes delicious, fresh goat cheese. These people have a clear passion and dedication to making quality-conscious food. We then went to the MOON Co-Op market to encourage the group to continue to buy local even as the Oxford Farmer's Market Uptown transitions to its winter hours. At the dinner, a professor in the botany department gave a presentation about organic food and a local farmer spoke of his lifelong commitment to ethical and sustainable farming practices.
"From this experience, I realized that it is so easy for students to support Oxford's local food economy. It's important to know what you're eating and where it comes from. I want people to be more aware about food and realize that each time they sit down for a meal or buy groceries they can make decisions that support ethical and sustainable practices.
"The WGS programs gave me the opportunity to create and execute an event that was significant to me and allowed me to educate myself and other students. This individual-based learning opportunity was one of the most enriching experiences I've had throughout my years at Miami."