Kyle Ahlers
MA, GCS & Public Policy
Advised by Diane Grossman

Meghan Bedard
BSW, Social Work
Advised by Paul Gould

Monivan Cheth
BA, Biology
Advised by Maria Abate

Ashmita KC
BA, Biology
Advised by Maria Abate

Raelissa Glennon-Zukoff
BA, English
Advised by Kelly Hager

Sasha Alizai Khan
The Racialization of LGBTQ Muslims
MA in Gender/Cultural Studies ‘17
Advised by Saher Selod

Racialization is a useful concept for discussing the experiences of Muslims in the transatlantic world. Even though research has indicated that racialization is a gendered and sexualized process, to my knowledge no existing research explores the specific ways that LGBTQ Muslims are racialized. The purpose of my project is to examine how LGBTQ Muslims are racialized in the contemporary United States by conducting a content analysis of 6 blogs created by LGBTQ Muslims.

I have been studying and working in the field of gender and sexuality studies for the past six years. Broadly speaking, my interests include transgender studies, critical race theory, and transnational studies. In particular, I am interested in how biopower and necropolitics operate transnationally to shape the lives of transgender people of color. My HDL project is a culmination of all of these interests.

I have used HDL funds to purchase research materials, including several books and journal subscriptions. I plan to use the remaining money to travel to conferences to present my work.

The HDL program has given me the opportunity to learn about the range of ways that Simmons students are conducting research related to gender in a variety of fields, to give and receive constructive feedback on my research and writing, to connect with established scholars in my field by inviting an outside scholar to Simmons to speak on my topic, and to develop my presence as a scholar in my field. 

I have been accepted into Oregon State’s PhD program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies for Fall 2017. I intend to publish and present my HDL project/MA thesis and may continue to explore this topic in my dissertation. I ultimately hope to become a professor in this field and to set up an independent feminist bookstore and kava bar. 

Marissa Knaak
Advised by Katharine Hollander

Mikayla Mitchell
BA, Sociology
Advised by Saher Selod

Diana Molina
MAT/MA, Education & English
Advised by Renee Bergland

Mary Morrissey
Advised by Jo Trigilio

Colleen Sargent
Student Perspectives on Sex Education in Public US Schools
BA, Sociology and English ‘17
Advised by Valerie Leiter

My project is an interview-based study of sex education in public US high schools, in which I have interviewed young high school grads about the knowledge they’ve gained from their sex education classes. I’m particularly interested in the differences between the experiences of heterosexual/cisgender students and students identifying as LGBTQ. 

I became interested in this work when I was a high school student, myself. I had a semester of sex education which was informative, but was not sensitive to my experience as an LGBTQ teenager. During a WGST course at Simmons, I discovered that this was a common experience for many other students, who attended high schools across the US. Now, I’m able to explore this problem in a formal research setting. 

I used my funds to purchase books to broaden my knowledge about sex education, and to cover the costs of having my interviews transcribed. I was able to submit my work to a New England Sociology conference and through the interview process. I’ve connected with students who feel as passionate as I do about asking for the education they need in order to make informed and healthy decisions about their bodies. 

The program has allowed me to see the intersection of health, education, gender, and sexuality, through my own project and the work of other 2017 HDL scholars. I hope to continue to study the sociology of youth, gender, sexuality, and education at the graduate level. 

Katharine Thorp
MA, English
Advised by Renee Bergland

Olivia Whitehead
BA, Psychology
Advised by Kristin Dukes and Kelly Hager