Madilyn Sturges is a final year Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major at Oregon State University will graduate with her Bachelor’s degree in Fall 2020.
Sturges is a first-generation college student and grew up in a low-income household in a town in coastal Oregon. She is a proud part of the WGSS community and believes in creating artwork that reflects feminist and social justice frameworks. “I really want social justice to be more accessible to people who may not have the money to buy all these books and to go to all the rallies because they are stuck in a small town,” she says. After graduating, Sturges aspires to work in a magazine, where she can pursue music journalism while drawing on WGSS methodologies.
What was your journey that led you into this program?
I knew I wanted to do something with social justice and feminism. I knew that I was going to college and I knew I was leaving my hometown and had no idea what I wanted to do. OSU was the only school I applied to because it was close enough to home and, at the same time, in a completely different city. I also liked that they had WGSS so I picked that right away. It was nice to be around people who were like-minded and that they were also angry at things that they had been through as a kid.
What were some of your favorite classes in WGSS? Why?
I was in a different position because when I was coming in classes were being reorganized. The first one I took was “Women, Self & Society'' (WGSS 223, later renamed Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). I took it with Kryn. That was my first class ever, and I loved it. I met some really good friends and we stayed friends. It was cool coming into that class. I was the only major in that class at the time.
How do you feel to be a part of the WGSS community and how has it influenced you as a person?
It has been really flexible in how I learn. A lot of my learning is based in pop culture and using feminism to dissect the things that we have been taught through television and music. I have had so many great opportunities where I was able to take what we have via textbook and lectures and make it into something that is completely unique. A lot of my art work I try to make it as accessible as possible, like something that I would want to listen to look at and learn from. In all my classes we will have projects, writing, or social justice work that we need to do, and creating it has always been very up to the students. I think that is really cool because it is not just one type of learning. Some people may not be good at writing an essay but they are able to show what they have learned in the class through an art piece or poem, or video. Compared to other programs where you have to be writing papers and doing heavy research, we have the flexibility of learning outside of the box. I have made blogs, podcasts, and posters that I have made for classes.
What was your experience like interning with the Undergraduate Task Force in the WGSS program?
I saw my internship as a way to give back to the community that I was a part of, for the last four years. COVID-19 has had such a big impact on the way groups like the Undergraduate Task Force work to create places for students and faculty of WGSS. Because of this, I wanted my internship to reflect how communities come together in new situations. During my internship I assisted graduate students and faculty to host community events and help promote WGSS courses for Winter 2021. I’m hopeful and excited for the plans the Task Force has for the next term and the resilience the WGSS community has shown during COVID-19.