Points of Pride

Mentoring Youth in Urban Spaces

Women’s and Gender Studies offers students the opportunity to participate in an innovative program that involves mentoring girls at an Ypsilanti middle school. By enrolling in the undergraduate course "WGST 230: Mentoring Youth in Urban Spaces," EMU students are schooled in the theoretical and practical aspects of mentoring, and then perform field work as "femtors" to engage girls in activities and discussions on subjects pertaining to self esteem, such as media and body image, friendship issues, teasing and harassment, celebrating diversity, dream-building, and drawing on girls’ agency to create social change. Mentoring opportunities are also available for work with other youth populations. Students who have participated in this program have found it to be a life-changing experience!

Olga Madar Lectureship for the Empowerment of Women

The Women’s and Gender Studies Program also sponsors the Olga Madar Lectureship for the Empowerment of Women. Olga Madar was a 1938 graduate of Michigan Normal College (now EMU) and in 1966 became the first woman to be elected to the Executive Board of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union (UAW). A tireless advocate for women’s equality, she helped to found the Michigan Women’s Political Caucus and the Network for Economic Rights in 1971, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) in 1974. The lecture brings renowned political scholars and leaders to the EMU campus for engagement with students, faculty and staff, and community members in an effort to increase awareness of political leadership opportunities for women.

Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is a unique opportunity offered by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department since fall 2011. It brings 15 outside college students together with 15 inside students to take a semester long college course, WGST 202 Introduction to Gender and Sexuality, at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility.

The initial Inside-Out program was established in 1997 by Lori Pompa at Temple University in conjunction with Graterford Correctional Facility, where Inside-Out classes are still being taught. Currently, there are over 300 classes across country that have been offered in correctional facilities through Inside-Out. Read more about the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.

In the fall of 2011, Dr. Kathryn Ziegler and Jessica Kilbourn launched the pilot EMU class, WGST 202 Introduction to Gender and Sexuality at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. The philosophy behind the program is to break down the physical and mental barriers that separate us. It allows all involved to teach, learn, lead, become educated by taking a college course, and to also share life experiences. Here are a few perspectives on what the Inside-Out experience has meant to recent course participants:

The inside out program has allowed for me to get to know a group of women that I would’ve never met otherwise. The program breaks down stereotypes about women in prison and allows the groups to come together and learn from each other. I will always remember this class and the women that opened my mind and heart.  --Outside Student

This has been an opportunity to express myself for the woman I am, allow others to know me as a person, not a number, and has helped me gain insight on gender diversity. My goal for this course was to open people’s eyes to the “inside” world in hopes that they can see us as beautiful women, not as criminals.  --Inside Student

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to watch and facilitate the process of 27 amazing human beings come together and learn and share and laugh and cry and talk about gender and life and hopes and fears. It has been about further understanding that our differences don’t divide us but bring us closer, give us more knowledge and make us more unique and compassionate people to each other.  --Jessica Kilbourn, Inside-Out WGST 202 Course Instructor

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