Isaac Prestwich ’20

Isaac Prestwich

Coming to Pomona, I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to be engaged in interdisciplinary work that pushed my boundaries not only intellectually, but personally as well. The Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) department has offered me that unique experience in that it has been fundamental in developing my worldview and challenging me in ways I never thought to challenge myself before.

I took my first GWS class my second semester here at Pomona. The class was called LGBTQ+ Social Movements in the United States and was taught by Visiting Professor Rushaan Kumar. This course introduced me to and trained me in a method of critical analysis that is central to the GWS department here at Pomona. This framework privileges the work of feminists of color and critical race theorists as a crucial tool for effective cultural analysis. With this in mind, we are able to understand how power operates through and across the axes of race, gender, ability, class, and sexuality to produce difference across populations. 

GWS at Pomona is a special program that is not like any other. Namely, something that I love so much about this program is its interdisciplinarity. Many GWS courses are cross-listed with other departments, such as the Prison, Punishment, Redemption course, which is taught in the Religious Studies Department, as well as Chicanx/Latinx and Education, which is offered by the Chicanx/Latinx Studies Department. Above all else, however, the GWS program at Pomona has some of the most exciting and dedicated professors cross The Claremont Colleges. Namely, Kyla Tompkins, Aimee Bahng, Zayn Kassam and Amanda Apgar represent the heart of this program, offering courses across the disciplines of disability studies, settler colonial studies, Asian-American studies, food studies, feminist new materialist studies, religious studies and the critical study of childhood, to name just a few. Finally, one of my favorite things about this department is that it regularly sponsors speaker series and guest lectures, giving students at the 5Cs the unique opportunity to learn from scholars like Saidiya Hartman, Dean Spade, Andrea Ritchie, Sami Schalk, Julian Gill-Peterson and Christina Sharpe.

I am currently in the process of developing a thesis on contemporary picture books for early readers that feature gender non-conforming and trans child protagonists. As of now, my project will interrogate these books in an effort to identify consistent gender narratives across a number of texts and analyze these in the context of critical childhood studies. In the end, my goal with this thesis is to develop an intersectional framework of analysis that considers how narratives of gender non-conformity and queerness in childhood might serve to either disrupt for bolster neoliberal logics of inclusion that privilege the status quo in favor of alternative forms of kinship and community formation. This project was borne out of a class called "Queering Childhood," which I am taking now in the spring of 2019 with Professor Apgar. Additionally, the inspiration for this topic came from my own experiences working in preschool classrooms during the academic school year.

A. Ja'Nea James ’21

Adia James

I am a pre-health student at Pomona. I have been studying the life sciences since high school. And after I graduate from Pomona, I will continue to study and explore the life sciences in medical school. I felt that I should spend my undergraduate years studying something that interested me and that would help me better understand the types of backgrounds my patients would come from. I chose to major in GWS because we learn about the various struggles that many marginalized communities face, as well as how gender plays a role in these struggles. We also examine the theories behind how these struggles manifest themselves, as well as why they exist to begin with, and if these theories are reflective of lived experiences. This would help me understand aspects of being a physician, like why patients do or don’t show up for appointments or why they choose a specific treatment plan, which would in turn help me find the best way to treat them that works with their situations. Overall, I believe that this major will prepare me for the social aspects of becoming a physician by keeping me more aware of the reality of my patients lives outside of the clinic or hospital and how that impacts their decisions, as well as advocate for other patients who feel that their physicians do not listen to them.

I enjoy the elective requirements and the GWS+ track option because they give students in the major a chance to study specific aspects of GWS that they enjoy. I choose to complete many of my electives with classes that pertain to Black feminism and womanism because it is the area of study within this major that I am most interested in. I plan to work closely with Black communities as well as continue to advocate for Black women’s reproductive rights from a physician’s perspective. I believe that these classes teach me about aspects of Black womanhood that I was never very conscious of, and now that I am conscious of it, I have more tools to better help my future patients.  

I am currently working on a project that examines Black motherhood in America. I plan on examining how it is viewed within the Black community as well as how media outlets, older articles, and political campaigns have portrayed it to the rest of America. I also plan on examining how inaccessible femininity is to Black women compared to white women, and how this impacts how black motherhood is portrayed to the rest of America. For my thesis, I hope to explore a similar topic, or how this topic impacts the reproductive rights of Black women.

Calder Hollond ’21

Calder Holland profile picture

During the first semester of my freshman year, I took Language and Gender as my ID1 [Critical Inquiry seminar] and was introduced to the field of gender studies. This motivated me to start taking more GWS classes, and as I explored the field and loved all my classes, I decided to major. Throughout my Intro to GWS class, I enjoyed learning about foundational theories of the field and applying these theories to issues I am passionate about, like reproductive justice. I love how the foundations that I learn in my GWS classes can be combined with so many other studies, from critical Indigenous studies to environmental justice, to explore and understand different issues. I plan to work in women’s health, so I have focused on the way that GWS helps me consider the interactions of gender, sex, and sexuality with healthcare.

The amazing, tight-knit GWS community has made my major experience thoroughly enjoyable. Students often are concentrating in various other disciplines, and so each student brings a different focus that heightens classes’ exploration of different topics. The faculty is absolutely wonderful, and all the professors are genuinely interested both in the field and in forging connections with students. The department also brings in many important professors and researchers in the field to speak each year, and it’s common to be able to go to a talk by a guest speaker whose articles you have studied in class.

Through my GWS studies, I have had the opportunity to learn about broad topics in the field as well as hone in on certain topics for my papers and research. Last semester in my Queer & Feminist Theory course, I did my final project over creating a syllabus for a hypothetical course on reproductive justice. In doing so, I extensively researched different aspects of the topic, from environmental reproductive justice to reproductive technologies to motherhood and incarceration. As I hope to someday to work in the field of reproductive justice, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to research the topic, and I hope for my thesis to center around reproductive justice.