This year's Women and Gender Studies commencement ceremony was an empowering and touching event, as a full crowd in the chapel of Old Main watched thirteen accomplished students celebrate the completion of their bachelor's degrees, as well as recognizing the achievements of our minors, certificate students, and scholarship recipients. Held on Friday, May 6th, we continued the tradition of having all our graduates and faculty process together from the Hazel Gates Woodruff Cottage, across the Norlin Quad to the chapel of Old Main, led by the dean of arts & sciences, Dr. Steven Leigh.

This year's ceremony was led by associate professor Deepti Misri and began with a beautiful original rendition of the song "Landslide" performed by graduating students Jayne Colorado-Caldwell and Andie Hagemeier, with Jayne accompanying the song on guitar. Commencement speaker, Cha Cha Spinrad, a local activist and early childhood educator, was introduced by student Marley Jeranko. Marley explained the senior class voted to ask Cha Cha to speak this year because they are inspired by her commitment to activism as she "works across the board to spread messages of social justice, as well as working with children to ensure that empathy and consent become common practice." Cha Cha noted she was honored to be asked to speak and to be recognized as a social justice advocate, and pleased that her even though her candidacy for Boulder city council was unsuccessful and her plan didn't play out the way she envisioned, she was still heard and made an impact on others, as evidenced by our senior class's invitation itself.

Graduating seniors Andie Hagemeier, Christina Young, and Haylee Wexler each gave their reflections on their time here at CU-Boulder in short student speeches. Andie spoke about all she has gained during the process of completing her bachelor's degree in women and gender studies, and that she has realized that focusing on outcomes was not as important as being in the moment and enjoying the process of learning. Christina noted that her professors in women and gender studies awarded her the gift of high expectations, which allowed her and her classmates to rise to meet those expectations. Haylee expressed her thanks to her family, friends, faculty, staff, and everyone who has supported and helped her along her journey, as well as to all the alumni of women and gender studies. She noted, "we have built and will continue to grow this extraordinary community of like-minded individuals fighting to change the world."

Scholarship and award recipients were then recognized by Dr. Misri and assistant professors Emmanuel David and Robert Wyrod. The Lucile Berkeley Buchanan award, named for the first black female graduate of CU-Boulder, is given to a student who demonstrates a commitment to social justice. This year's applicant pool was so strong, the committee gave an honorable mention to Jacqueline Tillman, and recognized her for her activism surrounding trans justice at her former community college. Jocelyne Becerra Garcia was then awarded this scholarship and was lauded for her dedication to a large range of social justice issues since her freshmen year, including facilitating sexism trainings for the Women's Resource Center and volunteering for the annual TRANSforming Gender Conference. Dr. Misri commented, "as a Latina feminist and a first-generation college student, Jocelyne reflected a crystal-clear understanding of solidarity in an intersectional framework." The Jean Dubofsky Scholarship, given in honor of the first female to serve on the Colorado Supreme Court, was awarded to Katelyn Nagel. Dr. Misri noted Katelyn's high GPA and the wide variety of activities that she has made time for, including her work with the Gender Justice League, Triota Honor Society, and her upcoming honors thesis project involving both a photographic aspect and interviews with the women featured about how they make meaning of their own participation in these photographs.

A newly created distinction, the Excellence in Inclusion Award seeks to recognize outstanding student projects which explore issues of diversity and inclusion. Two students were recognized for their outstanding projects: Jocelyne Becerra Garcia for her video The 4.6% of CU-Boulder which spoke to the experience of Latina women on campus, and Daryn Copeland for their photographic zine Pansy, a charming narrative of coming into gender-neutral pronouns and the possibilities that they open up. The faculty also decided to honor two students this year with the Joanne Easley Arnold Outstanding Senior Award, which acknowledges the leadership, engagement, commitment to social justice, and service towards our community by a graduating women and gender studies student. This year, the faculty decided to surprise two seniors with this recognition. Grace Edwards has completed degrees in both women and gender studies and religious studies in only three years, while making the dean's list each semester, and being involved in a myriad of activities including the Gender Justice League, the Taekwondo club, working as a peer educator for the Gender and Sexuality Center, and as a member of the executive board for her sorority, Chi Omega. Marley Jeranko is also graduating with a double-major in women and gender studies and English literature, with cum laude honors for her feminist critique of the seminal novel Catcher in the Rye. An active member of the Gender Justice League, Marley was acknowledged for her commitment to social justice in the classroom and the community, as evidenced by her leadership style which encourages others, her ability to listen with compassion, and her hard work and attention to detail.

Certificates for the completion of the graduate certificate in women and gender studies were then awarded; eight students completed the requirements for this certificate this year, which has steadily gained in popularity since its inception. This year two students also earned the undergraduate certificate in global gender and sexuality studies, and 15 successfully completed all the coursework for a minor in women and gender studies. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of degrees to our thirteen majors, and the traditional turning of the tassels to signify their transition from student to graduate. The students then led the procession upstairs to the Heritage Center, where students, faculty, friends and family enjoyed a reception in celebration of their achievements.

Congratulations to the women and gender studies graduating class of 2016!

For the Bachelor of Arts:

Makenzie Rose Courtney            
Makenzie began her time at CU undeclared and is grateful to have found her home at the cottage. She appreciates these years spent in Boulder for the transformative personal growth she has experienced and the wonderful people she has met. Makenzie plans to study at Uppsala University in Sweden as of this August

Sarah Elizabeth Cross    
Sarah is graduating with distinction as a double major in history and women and gender studies. During her time at CU, she became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Triota, the women and gender studies honor society. Before she returns to the academic setting as a graduate student, she hopes to find work in a safe house where she can live out her passion of helping those most marginalized. She would like to thank her parents for providing her the means to receive a college education as well as her fiancé for encouraging her through the many tearful all-nighters.

Carley Michelle Dvorak
Carley has completed degrees in women and gender studies and anthropology, both possible through the overwhelming and endless support she received from family and friends. She would like to extend a special thank you to Deepti Misri and Sam Bullington for guiding her through the grounded roots of theory and opening her up to the power of embodied feminism. After graduation, she hopes to travel the world and continue her education in permaculture and holistic healing for women.

Grace Kathryn Edwards
Grace is graduating in three years with a double major in women and gender studies and religious studies. In her fabulous time here she was a proud member of the Gender Justice League and enjoyed every moment of activism that with the awe-inspiring other members. She was also a peer leader at the Gender and Sexuality Center and vice president of her sorority, Chi Omega. She was awarded the Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship for all four years and the Katherine J Lamont Scholarship last year through the Religious Studies Department. After graduation, she plans to take some time off to explore and then attend law school and continue her focus and passion on social justice. She wants to extend a special thanks to her parents for allowing her to attend CU, and Professor Bullington and Professor Montoya and Beyoncé for being her fearless feminist mentors.

Andrea J. Hagemeier    
Andie is graduating with a degree in women and gender studies, with a certificate in LGBTQ Studies. She plans to move to New York City to pursue a marketing career in a women's centered company. Andie would like to thank her mom and dad, who have given her the opportunity and support to follow her dreams, and her forever-feminist role model, her late grandmother, the Honorable Judith S. Kaye. Andie notes that she is appreciative for the best education that she could have ever dreamed of, and writes "I've learned so much from my peers and professors and I will cherish you all for a lifetime."

Marley Lynn Jeranko     
Marley is a double major in women and gender studies and English literature, and is graduating with cum laude honors in the department of English. During her time at CU she was a proud member of the Gender Justice League and Triota Honors Society. She would like to thank Sam Bullington and Celeste Montoya for their substantial contributions to her scholarship and personal transformation, her parents for privileging her with the opportunity of attending CU-Boulder, and her fellow activists who have made this journey truly special.

Paige Alexandra Keller
Paige has completed degrees in both anthropology and women and gender studies. She was an active participant in the "Feminists of the Front Range" project, which aimed to capture the diversity of feminism in our community. She would like to thank everyone who has helped her on this journey.

Mariah Alexandra Miles              
Mariah is excited to be graduating with a double major in English literature and women and gender studies with a minor in technology, arts, and media and with a certificate in advertising. Throughout her future, she plans to continue working towards her dreams and striving towards making what she believes in a reality. She would like to thank her family, friends, and her professors for their love and support over the past four years.

Nicole Pisarczyk 
Nicole is graduating with a double major in women and gender studies and sociology. She will be pursuing a social services and law career, centered on helping children in need. Nicole would like to thank her senior class for being the feminist role models she needed, and her parents for the hard work they put in to make her college education possible.

Amelia Louise Trujillo  
Amelia has earned bachelor's degrees in both sociology and women and gender studies as well as a minor in business innovation. She is graduating having received the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Scholarship through the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and the Anschutz Foundation Scholarship through the business minor program. In the future, she would like to utilize her degrees to create social change and empower women in the non-profit sector. She would like to thank her mom and dad for their continual love and support through her time at CU-Boulder.

Sarah Valdez     
Sarah is graduating with a double major in women and gender studies and political science. She was involved with the Miramontes Arts and Sciences Program, Gender Justice League, and volunteered for the Women's Resource Center. She would like to thank her friends, family, and her mentor, Glenda Russell.

Haylee Wexler
Despite an uncertain start, Haylee found her passion and has earned a double major in women and gender studies and sociology.  While at CU, she acted as co-president of Triota Honors Society and was active in Gender Justice League. She is proud to have performed in The Vagina Monologues as well as participated in many of the activism events on campus.  She appreciates the honor of having been chosen as a recipient of the Jean Dubofsky scholarship last year. The world is a big place and she will be taking some time to figure out which way her life will be going next but activism will always be part of it.

Christina Young               
Christina is graduating with majors in women and gender studies and economics and minors in philosophy and political science. She is graduating summa cum laude in economics for her research on the Colorado Family Planning Initiative and women's reproductive health policy. During her time at CU, she has served on the executive board and competed as a member of the CU Mock Trial team, participated in CU Ethics Bowl and CU Model UN, and acted as service chair for the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity. Christina is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Triota honors societies, and has received the S. Antoinette Bigelow Scholarship and the Val B. and Helen W. Fischer Award. She plans to work in the fields of economic policy or law, with the goal of creating policy change that meaningfully improves the lives of those in marginalized communities. She would like to thank her family, friends, professors, and dogs for their love and support.

MajorsWGST Majors 2016

For the Minor:  

Jayne Palmer Colorado-Caldwell
Jayne is a communication major and a women and gender studies minor. She is graduating with an Academic Leadership Award from the Department of Communication. While at CU, Jayne was a member of the Gender Justice League and a DJ at Radio 1190. She would like to thank her friends and family for their endless love and support, and says "I would not be where I am today without them". After graduation, she plans to get a massage and eat a very large bag of Cheetos. 

Kayla Jackson   
Kayla is graduating with distinction with a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as a minor in women and gender studies, which she's completed in only three years. While at CU-Boulder, she has participated in the Miramontes Arts and Science Program. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a master's in social work.

Megan Rose Kempa      
Megan has completed a major in communication, a minor in women and gender studies, and a certificate in business. She would like to thank her parents for their unwavering love and support in pursuing her dreams. She would also like to thank the Women and Gender Studies Department for all of the incredibly life changing information that she has learned in her four years at this beautiful university.

Chelsea Victoria Pyatt  
Chelsea is graduating with a degree in sociology and a minor in women and gender studies. She would like to thank her parents for supporting her throughout her academic career. Her summer plans are to travel and volunteer with an organization in Longmont.

Zoe Amelia Raynor        
Zoe has earned a bachelor's in sociology and a minor in women and gender studies. She is a member of the Triota Honor Society and the sorority Pi Beta Phi. Zoe notes that being part of the Women and Gender Studies Department has been the most rewarding experience; she is so grateful to have grown and learned so much from such intelligent and passionate professors as well as her fellow peers and wishes to thank them all.

Also completing the minor, but not in attendance:
Emily Lane Anderson, Allison Nicole Dickman, Alexandra Brianne Eagle, Josie Valadez Fraire, Aimee Renee Jakeman, Hibaq Loyan, Erin Pettis, Hannah Grace Raab, Erik Gideon Rock, and Rachel Elizabeth Stevens.

For the Undergraduate Certificate:              

Paige Poorman
Paige is a political science major who has also completed the undergraduate certificate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. One of her best experiences in college was the summer she spent studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. Paige is currently interning as a writer for a blog ran by an International Development NGO, Mercy Corps, and she wants to thank her mother for supporting her in all of her endeavors over the past four years.

Also completing the certificate, but not in attendance:
Briana Elan Johnson.

For the Graduate Certificate:         

Sara Iacovelli    
Sara has earned a master's degree in comparative literature and the Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies, with the completion of her thesis “Translation as Transnational Conversation: Exploring and Translating Postwar Women Poets from Two Languages.” Sara notes that completing the WGST certificate has shifted the way she thinks about academic scholarship and has informed her research and writing practices - particularly as a comparativist, the feminist theoretical lens developed in these courses has served as a reminder to be carefully attentive to both simultaneity and difference.

Brynn Elise Raymond    
Brynn has completed a master's degree in English with a concentration is in twentieth century and contemporary LGBTQ literature and media studies, as well as the Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies. Brynn relates that the WGST graduate certificate has greatly informed both the theories and methodologies that undergird her research, as she interrogates intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation in her work.

Anne Meredith Sugar   
Annie has received her PhD in Media Studies from the College of Media, Communication and Information with the defense of her dissertation "Untapped: Fermenting Feminism through the Craft Beer Movement”, where she looked at how the neoliberal mass media created both a gendered space around beer in the media that extended to social ritual, how this gendered space impacted generational identity for Generation Xers and millennials, and how social media and the craft beer industry have worked together to not only dismantle this gendered space but replace it with a fourth-wave feminist space.  Annie writes, "to be honest, the WGST program not only became my second (and sometimes first) academic home here at CU, but it laid the foundation in theory and methodology for my academic and personal identity as well as my research. My dissertation would not be the dissertation it is without my coursework at the Cottage. I am who I am now and teaching and writing what I do because of what I learned through my Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies here at CU-Boulder. The WGST certificate was the most defining experience of my PhD studies. Thank you for making me the feminist scholar I am today."

Maite Jo Urcaregui        
Maite has received a master's degree in English and the Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies. Her research interests include the intersection of word and image in Modernist avant-garde literature and poetry and contemporary comics and graphic narrative. Maite reflected that the WGST certificate has provided her with a reflexive, conscientious understanding of the ethics of a feminist literary studies through which to investigate avant-garde literature, one that interrogates how systems of oppression can be both upheld and resisted through literature.

Also completing the certificate, but not in attendance:
Bailey Anderson, Amanda Marie Benzin, Alison Kristine Hanson, and Elizabeth Erin Lewis.

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