When I first began studying at the University of Windsor, I had hopes of graduating with a degree in Political Science, attending Law School (at the University of Windsor, of course) and becoming a partner at a top Toronto law firm by age 30. As I went through my first year, I realized that this was not for me. Law is a respectable field, but I knew I would never be happy.
In second year, I decided that I would go into teaching. I like working with young people and I come from a long line of teachers (my father, grandmother, and grandfather are all teachers). I was still a Political Science student, but I was becoming uninterested in the program, so during second semester I went on the search for a new program. While speaking with a friend, she mentioned that she really enjoyed her Women’s and Gender Studies class, and wished that she could take more courses but wondered, “What would I do with a degree in Women’s Studies after I graduate…?”
After that conversation, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should take a Women’s Studies course. It would be a bird course that can bring up my grade point average.” (I was on academic probation at the time). That January, I began my journey.
My first Women’s and Gender Studies course was Gal Pals: Women and Friendship. That course opened my eyes to what Women’s and Gender Studies had to offer. My life changed at that point. I knew I wanted to do something, anything, that would allow me to better women of all ages. By year four/five, education and teaching were no longer my interest. By graduation my future was uncertain.
I knew I wanted to work with women but I didn’t know where to start. A women’s shelter? A women’s rights group? A women’s centre? A women’s book store? I became frustrated. I had no job and my family were wondering why I went to university and "wasted” so much money.
It took me awhile to realize that Women’s and Gender Studies is not only about women. It’s about everyone. I had forgotten what this program was about. Once I remembered what I had learned I had a new awakening. Job offers were coming in left, right and centre. I couldn’t keep up with all the interviews. I had options; I had a “Degree that Worked!”
Fast Forward to 2011: I am working at a Youth Centre in Toronto, as the supervisor of operations. At this centre we provide help to youth who are homeless and at risk. I manage staff, conduct training, deal with complaints and conflicts, work with community members, liaise with local police, and occasionally attend meeting with politicians. I can honestly say that Women’s and Gender Studies has helped me achieve so much.
I want to share my story and let others know how a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies can open up a world of opportunities. I want to make sure that students who graduate from this program know they can be an asset to any occupation. I don’t want them to feel uncertain. I hope I can give back to the program that has given me so much.
-- Eava-Kay McKnight
B.A. Women’s Studies (2007)