Four female students have distinguished themselves as recipients of the Jeanette McVicker Fellowship in Women’s and Gender Studies at the State University of New York at Fredonia for 2022: Haileigh Pawlak, Kristin White, Amber Ambrose, and Jessica Keeler.
It was noted that not only do the four students demonstrate a remarkable commitment to using an intersectional lens in their coursework; they also meaningfully explore the interdisciplinary connections linking their scholarship to community engagement and activism in their career goals and extracurricular and experiential work.
Judges for this year’s awards included Dr. Carmen Rivera, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of Spanish; Dr. Jennifer Hildebrand, who is associate professor of history and coordinator of ethnic studies, and professor of English, Dr. Jeanette McVicker. The fellowship, launched while Dr. McVicker was Director of Women’s Studies, was created to recognize and encourage scholarship and activism informed by scientific research. It was renamed in her honor after she left that position by her successor, to recognize McVicker’s contributions to rebuilding the women’s and gender studies curriculum.
Of note among this year’s recipients: Three students began their studies in higher education at Jamestown Community College, coming to Fredonia as transfer students. Three of the winners are also non-traditional students, returning to Fredonia after a break from their studies. The judges note that the perseverance and dedication to pursue their education despite difficult personal obstacles makes this group distinctive and truly representative of the values the scholarship celebrates.
All four students have excelled in their Women’s and Gender Studies and/or Ethnic Studies courses, and all four are finding meaningful ways to make an impact beyond the classroom.
Pawlak is completing her first year and will be a fourth-year student in the BA/MA English Education program, with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her outstanding 3.97 GPA and commitment to inclusive and diverse pedagogy were noted by the judges. One of his letter writers hinted that through his work, Pawlak is able to “exchange[ing] exchanges and help[ing] let’s make room for different types of feminisms. As a resident assistant, Pawlak frequently sponsors resident programs focused on social justice issues, often linking them to literature and writing. She looks forward to becoming a teacher who can, in her words, “to guide the development of students’ liberating consciousnesses – awareness, analysis, action and responsibility/covenant.”
White will enter her senior year next year with a major in history with a minor in multi-ethnic studies. Her letter writers praised her for the masterful way in which she devoted herself to academic success after taking some time away from school. They also noted her campus and community service, which focuses on finding equitable opportunities, especially her work as a coordinator with the Cassadaga Job Corps Academy and the Chautauqua County Partners in Kind program.
Ambrose will graduate with his BA in English in December 2022 with a minor in sociology and plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science at Buffalo State University. Her goal, becoming a high school librarian, is to ensure her clients have the freedom to access the materials they need to thrive. One of his letter writers indicated that Ambrose “effectively carry his education in WGST classes into his future career as an advocate for diverse stories that represent the full spectrum of humanity.”
Keeler, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in social work, plans to continue her studies in the field of social work at the master’s level after graduation. The writers of her letter highlighted the contributions she is already making through her work at the Resource Center, praising her in particular for her dedication to outreach to the LGBTQ+ community.
Eligibility for this scholarship includes demonstrated academic excellence (minimum 3.0 GPA), relevant coursework in WGST and Ethnic Studies, and an indication of potential for community betterment through scholarship and / or activism emphasizing intersectional and transnational feminist / gender approaches.