Recent Graduates

Section 1

Recent Graduates

Are you a former Gender and Women's Studies major or minor? Are you attending or graduating from professional or graduate school? Have you landed your dream job--or are you still looking? Maybe you've found fulfillment through volunteer work. No matter where you are or what you're doing, we'd love to hear from you! Share your news by emailing

Marisol Rodriguez
Marisol Rodriguez graduated with a major in Gender and Women's Studies in 2006. She works at CME Group (formerly Chicago Mercantile Exchange). "Out of college I worked for a domestic violence agency and was very disappointed with the toxic atmosphere that was created of the Executive Director of the organization. I spent a year there, and then worked as a Medical Advocate for the Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) in Chicago. I had an amazing experience there, but it was emotionally difficult to handle. I provided support services to survivors at various area hospitals when they reported at ERs. Although the work was extremely rewarding, it was having a negative impact on my personal life. I moved on to the corporate world and came to the CME. I've been here for 8 years, first as an Administrative Assistant and for the past two years have been working their Innovation Lab as the Coordinator for Programs/Lab Space. I do some facilitation and used my experience doing hospital in-services for nursing staff towards my public speaking/facilitator role in my current position.
Whitney Hamilton
Whitney Hamilton (2011) double majored in GWS and African American Studies. She works at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago: She is currently applying to MBA programs on the path of Social Impact!
Elyse Vigiletti
Elyse Vigiletti defended her dissertation, "Reading the Middle: US Women Novelists and Print Culture, 1930-1960" in the English department in December. She has articles published in Frontiers and Studies in the Novel. She's now freelance editing and academic job-searching (will work for money). 
Mercades Nicolle White
Mercades White is a senior in Gender & Women’s Studies with a minor in International Development Economics.  Aside from being a student, Mercades has worked in Technology Services for the past three years and interned at the Women’s Resources Center. Likewise, Mercades has been involved with Students for Environmental Concerns and GLOBAL leaders here at UIUC. Post-graduation Mercades will be pursing legal studies at DePaul Law School in Chicago. She hopes to one day be a civil rights attorney. 
Ambrianna Rodriguez
My name is Ambrianna Rodriguez, I started my career at the U of I with a major in Biology and I am ending with a major in Psychology and a minor in GWS. I found that my courses in GWS proved to always be my favorites every semester. For the future, my hopes are to be able to put great use to both my major and my minor, career wise. 
Hana Nasser
Hana was raised in Chicago, Illinois. At the University of Illinois, she double-majored in Gender and Women's Studies and Political Science. She is excited to start a PhD program in Political Science at the University of Virginia in the fall. Before that, she will spend the summer traveling through Europe.
Jacob Ferruzzi
As an undergrad, Jake majored in African American Studies, Political Science, and History with a minor in Gender & Women’s Studies. He has a passion for social justice causes and hopes to one day become a civil rights attorney. He will be attending UCLA in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in African American Studies. 
Kari Gibson
I am graduating with a Major in Political Science and a minor in Gender and Women's Studies. I am from Monticello, IL and plan to attend Syracuse Law School in the fall.
Lena Rose Hann
Lena Rose Hann has been a clinical instructor at the University of Illinois for 7 years, and has coordinated the Master of Public Health Program for 5 years. She will complete her PhD in Community Health with a GWS minor this June. Lena’s research examines post-abortion fetal viewing practices at independent abortion providers throughout the U.S., and she will join the faculty at Augustana College as assistant professor in Public Health this fall.
Mariah Workman Thoelke
Mariah is graduating with a double major in GWS and Psychology. She is planning to take a year off before applying to graduate programs for Educational Psychology.
Marissa Halterman
My interest in theory started in Professor Ngo's Queer Theory class this past year and since then, I haven't been able to keep my mind or hands off of theory. This next year I am going to focus on applying to graduate schools to pursue a PhD in programs such as Gender & Women's Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Consciousness, and Feminist Studies. GWS has really changed my life in many ways, and taught me how to think critically about the world around me to create the tools to make a positive impact for others.
Mia Escher
Mia has a major in Psychology and minors in Gender & Women’s Studies and Leadership Studies. She is planning on attending law school or a master’s program with a focus in social justice. Mia is passionate about reproductive rights and would love to be part of the programs Center for Reproductive Rights or Planned Parenthood. Mia plans on pursuing her higher education and passions in New York City. 
Nadia Hines
Nadia is graduating with a double major in Psychology &  Gender and Women Studies. She plans on working for a couple of years before going back to school to obtain a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology.  
Paige Johnson
In my time at UIUC, I was a Psychology major with a minor in GWS. Coming to U of I was the best possible decision I could have made and I will always cherish my time here. I'm thankful for the amazing opportunities my degree has and will bring me in the future. After graduation, I will be working at Strive Logistics in Chicago and could not be more excited. 
Stephanie Skora
Stephanie Skora is a graduating Senior in Gender and Women's Studies, with a second major in Political Science and minors in LGBT/Q Studies and Sociology. In her five years at UIUC, she has been on the forefront of social justice on campus, playing roles in several major movements, and co-founding the Campus Union for Trans Equality and Support (CUTES) as a Junior, and serving as its president for almost all of the organization's existence. She has also served in upper leadership of the organizations Women of Pride and Pride, and is delighted to be serving as the President of the Board for the Uniting Pride Center of Champaign County going forward. She hopes to return to school after a year off and pursue a PhD. 
Thane Fowler
I am a queer, a bicycle mechanic and head staffer at the Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, a student leader at the University YMCA, a current resident of Greenhouse Co-op, and a future resident of Botswana. I am also someone who will miss the hell out of all the GWS students, faculty, and staff; you all made University so much better for me, and just might have made me smarter, stronger, and better prepared for the rest of my life in the process. I love you, GWS. 
Anuoluwapo Osideko
Anuoluwapo Osideko studies community health in the College of Applied Health Sciences, with a minor in gender and women’s studies. She is president of Frontiers International Healthcare Society and has volunteered in Ghana, India and Nigeria. Osideko is a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and Mortar Board Honor Society and also serves as International Awareness and Involvement chair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. A resident adviser at University Housing for more than three years, the McNair Scholar and Illinois Capitol Scholar recently published her manuscript while working as an undergraduate research assistant. She believes her years at Illinois have molded her into the informed and aware person she is today. This fall Anu will be moving to Rhode Island to attend Brown University, where she will be starting her Master's of Public Health program.
Elzbieta Kazmierczak
Elzbieta Kazmierczak, has an MFA in Graphic Design, a former Head of the Illustration Program at SUNY Buffalo, earned a Ph.D. from EPOL with a minor in GWS. Elka is committed to using art and design methods and research for the empowerment of women who experienced intimate partner violence. 
Maritza Rodriguez
Maritza Rodriguez graduated December 2014 with a Gender and Women’s Studies Major, and a Molecular and Cellular Biology Minor. She will be attending Widener University (Chester, PA) in the Fall obtaining a Master’s of Social Work and a Master’s of Education with a specialization in Human Sexuality. Her career goal is to work with sexual assault survivors in regaining sexual autonomy and to educate vulnerable populations on sexual assault.
Matthew Speck
Matt Speck is graduating with a double major in GWS and Mathematics.  He will spend the next year helping his family while hopefully attending graduate school in feminist studies in Fall 2016.  His current areas of interest are activist studies, math and science studies, porn studies, and transgender studies.
Rebecca Valenta
Rebecca Valenta is graduating with a Bachelors in Sociology and Psychology as well as a minor in Gender and Woman's Studies. She hopes to start work as a case manager soon after graduation. She wants to use her degrees to help those who are in the welfare system or have experienced abuse in their life.
Andrew James Haas

James Haas took the scenic route to his bachelor's degree, and is currently living in Chicago and working as a burlesque dancer, vaudevillian, and makeup artist. He is exceptionally grateful for and proud of the work he did at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specifically with The GWS Department, the Counseling Center Paraprofessionals, and the Sexual Health Peers.

Emily Butt
Emilie Noreen Butt is from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. She is a James Honors Scholar at UIUC, graduating with majors in Gender and Women’s Studies, Political Science, and Economics. At the U of I, her research has focused around the interactions between social media platforms and identity development, as well as representations of marginalized populations within video games. She plans to apply into the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Urbana-Champaign for a Masters of Science in Library and Information Science. 
Kelly Goetz
Kelly Goetz is from the Chicago area and is receiving her BA in Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Gender and Women's Studies. She plans to attend graduate school in the spring of 2016 and ultimately hopes to work for a large municipality.
LaDarius Dupree
Graduating with an Individual Plan of Study in Queer Studies - LaDarius' true home will always be The Department of Gender & Women's Studies. This Autumn, LaDarius will continue his education at the University of Vermont in pursuit of a Higher Education & Student Affairs Master's degree. He plans to be just as queer in Vermont as he was in Urbana. 
Megan Condis
Megan Condis will be starting a tenure track Assistant Professor position at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas this fall.  Her recently completed dissertation project titled “The Politics of Gamers: Bodies and Identity in the Age of Digital Media” is about the performance of masculinity in online gaming culture.
Melissa Bravo
"I am the oldest of five children and I am the first member of my family to be graduating from a four year institution. My major is Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Gender and Women Studies. After graduation I am going to attend graduate school for school psychology."
Sanam Cotton
After four years at the University of Illinois as a Gender and Women Studies, this native of Chicago will be moving to Memphis, Tennessee as a part of the Teach for America program.  Sanam has spent all four years playing division one rugby for the women’s rugby club based at the University, with two of those years as President of the club. Sanam departs the University of Illinois with a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a minor in Sociology. Thankful for her time with her fellow ILLINI, Sanam moves forward excited for all the future has in store for her. 
Sylvia Adams
Sylvia Adams majored in GWS with a minor in Sociology. She is the fundraising chair for the Golden Z club at U of I, the collegiate branch of Zonta International. Sylvia’s research includes the inclusivity of Sex Education classes for queer teens in urban communities.