Awards Ceremony

Department of Women & Gender Studies


A Note To You From Brockport Provost Katy Heyning

Greetings. I am honored to congratulate our graduating students and their families.

The Women and Gender Studies program at the SUNY Brockport is unique. It provides students the opportunity to investigate multiple dimensions of social identity and is dedicated to heightening awareness of the political, socioeconomic and cultural ideologies related to gender theory.

Graduates of the program have been immersed in the intersectionality and interdependence of concepts such as gender, sex, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, ability and disability. Most importantly, these students have learned how to bridge the gap between theory and practice and how to become change agents for social justice.

Today we recognize and celebrate those who have completed their program of study and those who are receiving awards for their work well done.

The path each student chooses to follow now is their own, but I have no doubt that they will truly make the world a better place for all.


A Love Letter to the Class of 2020:

Barbara LeSavoy photo Congratulations on your academic accomplishments. You are smart and interesting and I like you. You know this as truth. But now, in the midst of Covid 19, there is so much more.

I am overcome with emotion as I sit and write to you today — joy and excitement that you are earning your bachelor degree and about to become Brockport alum — and worry and fear for the uncertain world that you enter into as you leave our WGST and Brockport community. In the ebb and flow of this emotional range, one reassuring constant is you and the important, cutting edge knowledge that you have acquired in your WGST classes. Like the courageous healthcare and foodservice workers braving the Covid 19 pandemic, you too are an essential worker, one who has mastered a critical area of knowledge that makes you well-equipped to help society reconcile the many social inequalities that Covid 19 has exposed. You know well the dimensions of these inequalities; you’ve studied and researched this very phenomenon. You have so much to offer the world as we problem solve collaboratively on ways to navigate this uncertain and difficult time and identify new ways to reconcile the future. You. Are. So. Smart.

As I reflect on all of your talents and competencies, I am reminded of the many gifts that you have given to me in your work as WGST students. There is so much that I can say here – too much for the time and space of this note – but I want to mention just a few things that resonate in my mind for each of you:

Courtney: Congratulations on being the WGST senior scholar. You are brilliant and so deserving of this recognition. Your dedication and conscientious work ethic are stunning markers of your success. While I could say so much more here — the WMS 420 internship that you rocked — your WMS 330 contributions — it was your presentation of Anne Koedt in WMS 409 that altered my world. Sorry to all the theory students who come after you and who will have to tease out that Koedt reading. The bar is way high. Thanks for this and you.

Megan: Congratulations on the Colleen Donaldson Leadership Award. You are so deserving of this recognition: a stunning leader. And as someone who leads, thanks for always showing up. To everything. From NWSA, the SFD, the RD, and Every. Single. Out. Of. Classroom. Film. Every. Semester. Ever. Your commitment to gender and social justice causes is remarkable. I admire your generous spirit and willingness to cross the boundaries of learning with fearlessness and innovation. Thanks for this and you.

Shantise: Congratulations on service to the WGST discipline. You are so deserving of this recognition. I admire your persistence and courageous spirit. Your willingness to step up and participate in our WMS 409 class discussions and the insights that you shared helped us all learn new things. That and your important role as a student worker in our WGST office leave an indelible mark. Thanks for this and you.

Selena: Congratulations on service to the WGST discipline. You are so deserving of this recognition, and I am so glad that you chose WGST as a major. Your enrollment in WMS 409 was during that fiercely cold snowy semester where no matter what the weather brought each week, on Wednesday nights it stormed. You thanked me for allowing voluntary attendance that first frigid night, and from then on, you emerged as an ardent feminist and thinker. Your brilliant feminist manifesto zine sticks with me, as does your final WMS 330 PSA on FGM/C in Gambia. Thanks for this and you.

Grace: Congratulations on service to the WGST discipline. You are so deserving of this recognition. I am thrilled that you circled back after WMS 330 to become a WGST major. I loved having you in my 330 class. Your contributions were always brilliant. Really, the WGST major part was written all over you and your 330 papers from the very start. My one sadness is that I didn’t get to be with your brainpower for WMS 409. Thanks for your kindness and care for the larger good. And for all your good-thinking.

Isaiah: Congratulations on the Harriet Whitney Award. You are so deserving of this recognition. I am in awe of your talents. Whether analyzing feminist theory or performing in the arts, you rock. So many instances of your dance and theatre performances resonate with me, but the thing that sticks with me most is the brilliant feminist manifesto dress that you fashioned for WMS 409. For one whole summer, when I was in my office daily, your dress graced my space. Some days, pushing through a sea of intense scholarly and administrative tasks, I’d glance over at that dress and be reminded of why we do the important work we do. Thanks for this and you.

Sam: Congratulations on the Harriet Whitney Award. You are so deserving of this recognition. I admire your activist stance in fighting for gender equity and social justice causes. And I am so happy that you decided to make WGST your second major. I loved having you in my theory class. Your seriousness of purpose and your kind, sharing spirit resonates with me. But the thing that totally rocked my world was your final feminist manifesto, a deep, heartfelt rendering that altered my thinking then and now. Thanks so much for resending that writing to me. I loved rereading this almost as much as I loved listening to you speak these words the first time. Thank you so much for this and all you do.

Nax: Congratulations on the EK Miller Scholarship. You are so deserving of this recognition. I am thrilled that you chose WMS as a major. My reward at the end of marathon Wednesdays was chatting with you after class and then sequestering in my office to enjoy your WMS 409 brainpower. I loved reading your words as much as I loved your artistic rendition of theoretical thought. Your final feminist manifesto stands out as an important contribution to addressing social and gender justice causes. Thanks so much for your good-thinking and always searching for deeper meaning in what we know.

Ciarra: Congratulations on the Woolf Obourn Scholarship. So sorry that I don’t know you. I’m certain if I did, I would have many words to say. I hope our paths cross in the future.

Class of 2020, congratulations again on all your amazing accomplishments. And congratulations to the new Triota inductees. You are all remarkable, and I am honored and privileged to know you as I do. Celebrate yourselves and each other. Despite this unprecedented, uncertain time, and the unfair disruption Covid 19 has wreaked on this celebratory college passage, you’re exactly where you should be. You’ve got this. And don’t ever forget how smart you really are.

With Love and Grace,

Barb LeSavoy, PhD

Rebekah Orr photo

A Message To You From Dr. Bek Orr

Congratulations Women’s and Gender Studies Class of 2020! What a long, strange trip it’s been. Especially these last couple of months! I am so very proud of each and every one of you- your tenacity, your passion, your ability to look at all that is broken in this world and to feel as though you can and must help to repair it. As you move on and through the world, always know that you have us behind you, cheering you on. As soon as we’re able, let’s get together to celebrate!

Sharon Jacobson photo

A Congratulatory Note To You From Rev Dr. Sharon Jacobson

I wanted to take a moment to wish you all well as you start on the next phase of your journey. Fill yourself with purpose and led that fuel you as you move forward in your journeys. It is purpose, positive energy, and love which will propel you forward in your path.

Jose Maliekal

A Note To You From Jose Maliekal, Dean

To each student graduating with a degree in Women and Gender Studies, congratulations on your accomplishments!

Having completed coursework that emphasizes an inclusive view of human experience, Women and Gender Studies graduates have acquired considerable knowledge to frame and interpret patterns in the lives of real people, to understand that social justice and human rights issues are multi-dimensional, and to imagine a future that recognizes and celebrates different kinds of human experience.

I have no doubt that the countless hours that you have spent to acquire this knowledge will assist you in your future endeavors. You have what it takes to control what and how to think. At this time of great uncertainty, you can be certain about that. How and what you think is like a torch—a torch will illuminate the path to your future.

As you leave college to embark on your next journey, remember the words of Lucius Seneca, one of the most influential figures in the ongoing discussion about the liberal arts: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

Best of luck in all your future endeavors!