Alumni Profile: Marina G. Barcelo
Marina G. Barcelo graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a dual master's degree in Social Work and Women's Studies and Gender Studies in 2012. She also earned a graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management & Philanthropy.
Currently, Marina is the Student Inclusion Coordinator at Portland State University's School of Social Work. In addition to her job, she is a board member of ACLU of Oregon, board member of Momentum Alliance, and coalition leader of We Are BRAVE. Marina spoke with WSGS about her experience in our program and life after graduation:
I took a number of women's studies courses during college, and I knew that there was no going back! Loyola University Chicago was one of the few schools I found that offered a dual degree in Social Work and Women's and Gender Studies. I was extremely excited for the opportunity to blend feminist theory with social work practice.
I was hoping to develop and deepen my feminism, and build the skill set to apply an intersectional lens to my career in social work. I was hoping to dig deeper into the concepts of power, privilege, and oppression and how they impact our lives, individually and collectively. I also knew going in that I had a strong passion for reproductive justice, and I wanted to strengthen my analysis of body sovereignty and family security.
My WSGS education gave me the framework to ask the important questions: Who isn't at the table? Whose voices aren't being heard? What systems and structures have we created or perpetuated that keep people from being decision makers in their own lives? These questions have greatly informed my work in reproductive justice advocacy, community organizing, and non-profit management.
My advice to upcoming WSGS graduates: Center the leadership of those most impacted. Read and reread and read again White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun. And always come back to this Audre Lorde quote: "When we speak we are afraid, our words will not be heard nor welcomed. But when we are silent we are still afraid, so it is better to speak."
Alumni Profile: Caitlin Rettenmaier
Caitlin Rettenmaier graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Human Services and Business Administration and minor in Women's Studies and Gender Studies in 2012.
Currently, Caitlin is the Director of Butler, Brown & Adams County Services - Women Helping Women in Cincinnati, Ohio. Caitlin spoke with WSGS about her experience in our program and life after graduation:
I pursued a minor in WSGS because it's relevant, and it afforded me the opportunity to examine gender in many different realms - politics, literature, film, history, psychology, sociology. I'm sure there were more. Five years after graduating, my WSGS education continues to not only be relevant but possibly to have grown in importance. Female-identified individuals' rights and roles in our country and world are under heightened scrutiny, and my education in the intersection of oppression, race, gender, and justice continue to serve me well.
When I chose to study WSGS, I was hoping to do a life examination, not just take a few courses. And it was that (a life examination) - socially, biologically, economically, and politically. My WSGS courses armed me with ideas and answers to questions about how to interpret culture and my existence within it. I like to believe this department taught me how to go into the world and make it a better, more inclusive, and more beautiful place.
My WSGS education taught me to be on the right side of history, and I've striven to become an agent - not a bystander- in the process of bringing our communities one step closer to equality.
My advice to upcoming WSGS grads is to learn how to articulate the massive value of your degree. Be concise, articulate, and confident. Your major and expertise is so needed in our neighborhoods, states, and country right now, and I challenge you to take employers by storm with your value. You belong in every industry, market, and field.