Alumni Statements

Castella Copeland-Smith (she/they)


  • Graduation Year: 2017
  • Major: Political Science, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Human Rights
    • Minor: Urban Studies
  • Community Involvement:
    • Women's Center Worker
    • Windsor Human Relations Commission
    • The National BLACK Cooperative
    • United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA)
  • Post graduation: Master's at UConn NEAG School of Education, Educational Psychology CILT
    • Pursuing Doctorate degree at Liberty University for Educational Leadership

Current Position: Recruitment and Admissions Coordinator for UConn School of Business

I started off in PreK-12 education shortly after earning my bachelor's degrees. My first career path allowed me to apply skills I learned from WGSS in a way that meaningfully impacted student growth and educational success. WGSS taught me to see the whole person, to listen and understand where students are coming from with empathy. As a teacher, I was able to take these communication skills and mentor students to understanding their sense of identity over time. Guiding students towards empowerment and resilience gave them the tools to find that they have strength to accomplish their goals. WGSS was the next step in my academic and personal identity journey the continued growth across a multitude of platforms. Thanks to my WGSS major, I felt welcomed and was able to lean on my peers, mentors, and find community. Without the skills that I developed through internships, research projects, and presentations with WGSS, I would not be who I am today. I can truly attribute much of my success to the applicable growth from this WGSS program. To this day I still use the skills I have learned as I wrap up my doctoral degree and enter new leadership roles.


Adam Kocurek (he/him)


  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Major: Dual degree in History and WGSS with a minor in English
  • Community Involvement:
    • VAWPP(Violence Against Women Prevention Program) Peer Facilitator at the Women's Center
    • Resident Assistant for the Residential Life
    • Employed with the Writing Center
    • Internship as a TA for WGSS Professor
    • Internship with Appellate Printing Press

Current Position: Ph.D. candidate in History at The CUNY Graduate Center and adjunct lecturer at Hunter College

I work as a Ph.D. candidate in New York City and teach as an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College. WGSS gave me the supportive academic community and critical thinking and research skills necessary for me to enter my Ph.D. program. The faculty, staff, and other students in WGSS, as well as the other resources on campus like the Writing Center, were instrumental in developing my skills as a budding scholar and educator. The critical feminist pedagogical philosophy and analytical skills I honed through WGSS are highly valued in my work as an educator and researcher, and I credit the mentors I had in WGSS for getting me to where I am today. My advice to current WGSS students is to take full advantage of all the resources available to you at the university, take on as many classes and internship opportunities as possible to broaden your mind and professional spheres, and take the initiative to forge community with your peers. Be kind and generous with yourself, as with others.  

 Holly Crouse (Sansolo) (she/her)


  • Graduation year: 2011
  • Major: Human Development and Family Studies
    • Minor: Women's Studies

Current position: Director, Client Success - Enterprise Accounts at

My background in WGSS continues to play a valuable role in my daily interactions with colleagues and my overall career. As the leader of a department with 50+ employees, I am responsible for upholding Indeed’s mission of creating the best working environment and fostering inclusivity within my team. Recognizing the intersectionality of the individuals I oversee lies at the heart of leading with empathy and ensuring my team's well-being in the workplace.

In addition to my leadership role, I actively participate in Indeed’s Inclusion Business Resource Group, Women at Indeed.  The goal of this group is to establish Indeed as the model for gender equality in both culture and product offerings. This blends together the functional work I do in the business with my own personal passions and ideals.

My foundation in WGSS has been pivotal in helping me understand my role as a woman in leadership and in supporting other women in my workplace.  I consider myself fortunate to work for a company that prioritizes inclusion and places these conversations at the forefront of our work. For students considering WGSS coursework, there are valuable skills that can be applied to career advancement, distinguishing oneself in the workplace, and fostering a better environment for colleagues.


Kayla Paris (she/her)


  • Graduation Year: 2020
  • Major: Double Major in Psychological Sciences and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Involvement at Uconn: Employee at the Rainbow Center, Member of Community Outreach, Trip Director for Community Outreach

    Most recent position:  Administrative Assistant at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

    I am very grateful for my journey into the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UConn. I came into college with a very broad, generalized idea of what I wanted to study. I knew I wanted to be in a client serving role and interact with others on a meaningful scale. I thought coming to UConn as a declared Psychology major would give me a substantial background for my potential career interests in these types of paths (ex: counselor, coach, therapist). I did feel like I had a strong framework and found success in my Psychology classes, but I still felt something was missing. I had a stronger desire to learn more about society and the inner workings of how people experience the world. I was encouraged by a friend to try an introductory WGSS course during my first year. To say it was a transformative experience and a perfect fit into what I was missing from my educational path is an understatement. I decided to quickly declare WGSS as a second major and excitedly looked at the course catalog for all the upcoming classes I could take throughout college. In my courses, I learned everything from the history of activism and social movements, read impactful and progressive literature, and questioned my own place in the world. My WGSS courses also helped my confidence outside of the classroom and I became more involved in volunteer work and activism both on and off campus. Now as I explore different career options and enter the professional world, I know that my background in WGSS will set me apart from others as I have learned to see and analyze the world differently. I always think of intentionally and authenticity in embracing all social identities (gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc.), which helps me better understand and offer services to a diverse range of communities. The WGSS program at UConn will forever mean more than its title: it means continuous growth towards seeing the world as a more equitable place, regardless of how you identify. To any potential student thinking of entering the WGSS program, even if it's one course, please try it out. I promise you will walk away forever changed in ways you never imagined. 

    Amber Sagan (she/her/hers)


    • Graduation Year: 2021
    • Major: Biological sciences
      • Minor: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • Community Involvement:
      • Hayley Petit Violence and Injury Prevention Fellowship through the Connecticut Children's Hospital
      • Internship at the CT Harm Reduction Alliance
    • Post-graduation: Master's of Public Health

    Current position: Prevention Specialist at Wheeler Clinic, works on the Change the Script statewide campaign

    Taking courses in WGSS expanded my awareness of various social injustices and inequities. I became inspired to try to make a change on these issues, similar to how my WGSS professors had. I discovered the Hayley Petit Injury and Violence Prevention Fellowship my junior year, a fellowship for college women in STEM. After this fellowship, I pivoted my career goals from healthcare to public health. During my Master's of Public Health education, I further strengthened my WGSS skills by analyzing how social determinants of health such as race, gender, and income lead to inequities in health. I attended the 2022 Annual Public Health Association conference, where I learned about innovative WGSS research from experts in the field such as Loretta Ross. I graduated with my MPH in 2023, and I am currently a Prevention Specialist at Wheeler Clinic. I work on the Change the Script campaign- a statewide campaign to rewrite the narrative around substance use and prevent overdoses. I engage in community outreach to educate individuals about safe substance use, storage, and disposal and the opioid reversal drug, naloxone. 

    The knowledge and skills I gained through my WGSS coursework transfer into my current position in various ways. For example, I am able to view public health issues through an intersectional lens, such as how an individual's race, gender, and sexuality may create a unique experience when struggling with a substance use disorder. I have also developed skills in communicating with the community, by using gender-affirming care and creating a safe, respectful environment for meaningful discussions. My WGSS education has aided me in every step of my academic and professional career. 

    Matt Gray (He/Him)


    • Graduation Year: 2017
    • Major: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Human Rights
    • Community Involvement:
      • UConn Transgender Stakeholder Committee
      • Graduate Undergraduate Mentorship (GUM) Program
      • Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Steering Committee
      • SAGEConnects LGBT Elder “Phone Pal"
      • UCLA Fielding Alumni-Student Mentor
    • Post graduation: University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Master of Public Health, Community Health Sciences; Health Promotion/Education Specialization

    Current Position: Labor Occupational Health and Safety (LOSH)/Program Coordinator at UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

    During my 7 semesters at UConn, I was undeclared for at least 2 years, and floundered through 4-5 different major and minor combinations to find the ones that fit. As a student who excelled in the sciences and writing, constant noise from peers, mentors, and family about choosing a STEM major vs a social science major felt divisive and counterproductive. In the midst of this pressure to choose the ‘right’ major and career path, the WGSS program helped foster my appreciation for a multidisciplinary degree, subsequently wedding my humanities skills with my fascination with data and addressing social justice issues. WGSS prepared me for a more advanced degree in public health, and helped qualify & prepare me for unique and exciting jobs. Many of these roles showed me to bridge science & public health with lived experiences to improve people's lives—among them: serving as an enumerator for the US Census Bureau, a Public Health Investigator for one of the largest public health departments in the nation, and a Project Coordinator for a UCLA-affiliated worker health and safety program designed alongside community worker organizations. My WGSS major laid the foundation for my career by shaping me into both a thinker and a problem-solver, one who asks questions beyond "why" and considers the perspectives of each person's world view. My advice to WGSS grads is to know your worth, and to remember Ralph Waldo Emerson's words: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Go forth and be brilliant!

    Gabby Ferrell (she/her)


    • Graduation Year: 2020
    • Major: Journalism
      • Minor: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology
    • Community Involvement:
      • Co-organized 2021 international virtual conference at SCSU- bi annual conferences: “Gender race community and conflict”
      • Social Justice organizing at Grassroots
      • Research in Respectability Politics
      • Graduate Assistant
    • Post graduation: Master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Southern Connecticut State University

    Current Position: Adjunct Professor at Southern Connecticut State University's Department of Journalism

    Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies changed my life. When I was a freshman, I needed Gen-Eds to fill my schedule. When looking at the directory and seeing what was available, WGSS caught my eye called "Feminisms and the Arts." I had never heard of a class that discussed the two. I took it and was hooked. Fast forward to 2023 and I now have a Bachelors in Journalism with minors in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology. I also have a Masters in Women's and Gender Studies. I am currently a professor in the Journalism Department at Southern Connecticut State University where I teach about the power of the First Amendment and the intersectionality of the American experience. I am also Contributor for TheGirlMob, BY. Network, a Board Member of the Peace Development Fund, and run my own blog

    Although the world made us feel as though women's studies in general isn't useful and doesn't make money, I have experienced differently. WGSS and social reform studies is necessary for any job. Keeping people in mind, especially those of disenfranchised and marginalized groups, those with intersectional experiences, and others who differ from that, play a role in how effective the job is. All fields need someone with WGSS experience. You can weave it into everything you do such as how to approach a problem with a task, project and/or within your work team.

    Current WGSS students- please know that your experiences in these classes are far more than proficiency in education and doing your work. Look at them as spaces where your beings are challenged. Everything you've been taught, everything you've heard, and everything you do should start to feel uncomfortable in the best way.

    Annika Redgate (she/her)


    • Graduation Year: 2021
    • Major: Political Science
      • Minor: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • Community Involvement:
      • USG
      • UConn Women's Center, GASA Facilitator
      • Volunteer with the League of Women Voters

    Current Position: Legal Administrative Assistant to the Vice Chair of the Trusts and Estates Legal Department of Hinckley Allen & Snyder, LLP. 

    Looking back on my experiences at UConn, some of the fondest memories I have are a result of my involvement in the WGSS program.  As soon as I began taking my first POLS / WGSS class, I wanted to do everything I could to get more involved in this program that before this moment in my educational career, I had never been exposed to anything like. There was nothing as influential in my college education as the eye opening information that I learned through my WGSS courses. 

    I would recommend participating in the small discussions that are held in the majority of WGSS classes. It really is a great way to learn to perfect your public speaking and argument articulation skills, as well as meet your peers! With UConn’s typically larger classes, this type of environment being offered is rare and should be embraced! 

    If you can, please take a WGSS class, no matter your major or career path, just one can really change your overall perspective for the better. The majority of those in the workforce today never had the opportunity for this education, so take it!