Olivia Sulita (she/her/hers)
Graduation Year: 2010
Program/Degree: B.A. Triple Major in English, Political Science, and Women’s & Gender Studies
Current job/Position: Senior Admissions Manager at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Where have you found yourself and what career goals have you pursued since graduating from Loyola? Where do you see yourself heading in the next several years?
Right after college I wanted to work in the non-profit sector in order to engage with the community, and worked as a legal assistant and reading teacher before I found a job that transformed into a career. For the past eight years, I have worked for Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Office of Admissions. I have found there are a lot of Liberal Arts graduates working in Higher Education, as many of us wanted to work with people and make a social impact in some way. Working for a university has offered me the chance to learn and develop skills in a communal environment that I would have been too intimidated to take advantage of in the corporate world. I started as temporary working doing data entry projects, and have been able to move up to Senior Admissions Manager for the Full-Time MBA program. I hope to continue working in the non-profit and higher education and take on more responsibility in organizing operations in order to have a positive impact on students and future leaders, in order to engage and offer a world class education to students.
How did the Women’s and Gender Studies (WSGS) program impact your career success and life overall?
The coursework in the women’s studies program really helped me develop strong reading, research, writing, and analytical skills that have benefited me in a multitude of ways. The degree really introduced me to and helped me gain a much wider perspective of race, sex, and class and why our society operates as it does. Learning about race, sex, and class and how it plays out in society and institutions illustrated Loyola’s passion for social justice, and only made my passion for learning grow. A few years ago, I was accepted into Northwestern’s Master of Liberal Studies Program, and focused my coursework on studying race in literature and history. I took an inspiring Black literature in Chicago and Black Chicago history course, and knew I wanted to focus my thesis on racial segregation in Chicago. I spent two years researching and writing my m aster’s thesis titled, “Taking Back Boystown: Homonormativity, Commercialization, and Racial Surveillance in Chicago’s Gayborhood” in order to answer the question of how urban development and commercialization reshape public space according to race, class, and sexual identity through analyzing the history of Chicago’s Boystown. I was able to document and analyze the neighborhood from my point of view as a volunteer for The Night Ministry’s The Crib (an overnight emergency shelter for LGBTQ+ youth) to understand the race and class dynamics of the neighborhood. Loyola’s women’s studies program exposed me to these topics and inspired me to further explore my passion for social justice and intersectionality issues.
What was your favorite course/project you took part in whilst being a part of the WSGS program?
My favorite course was an Introduction Queer theory course with Carina Pasquesi from the English department. She exposed us to some incredible authors like Michael Warren, Douglas Crimp, and Gayle Rubin – who offer incredible analysis on queer theory. We all turned our desks into a circle each class so we could engage in discussion, and she really supported me and others who may have been quieter and less willing to speak up through writing assignments and creating a welcoming class environment. I also really liked the capstone class where we wrote a long research paper, as that was a nice culmination of the themes in my studies and helped prepare me for graduate level work.
Do you have any fond memories of your experience within the program? If so, please elaborate.
My most fond memory was graduating with the women’s studies cohort. I was also an English and Political Science major, but most enjoyed my time in women’s studies classes, so it was exciting to sit with a smaller tight-knit group at graduation.
Do you feel as though your WSGS degree has guided you towards a more fulfilling career path?
I think so, I have always been passionate about social justice and serving the community, and the WSGS degree helped me identify my passions a bit more clearly.
In what ways has your WSGS education helped prepare you to be a more engaged global citizen and local neighbor?
This has definitely been the biggest impact of the degree. I would never have been exposed to race, sex, and class issues that plague our society or really have an understanding of the multitude of reasons why our world is the way it is. I learned to understand history and institutions of power, and how to analyze those things through literature and media. The multi-disciplinary approach of the degree really enhanced my learning.
What advice would you offer to current or prospective WSGS students?
Use the time in courses to engage critically with texts, media, songs, that illustrate themes in the coursework. And don’t be afraid to discuss this with the people around you and in class, it will help prepare you for engaging with more diverse populations later in life, where other’s not fortunate enough to attend such a prestigious program may not have been educated or exposed to such topics. Use the faculty as resources for engagement, they are some of the best in their field and have experiences that you can learn from and use to guide your own career path.