Luncheon opens discussion on gender and women’s studies

Kalee Chism

Twice a semester, the gender and women’s studies department puts together a luncheon called Genderations in an effort to spread ideas and educate the community.

“The Genderations luncheon is something that we’ve been doing for many years,” Kristi Branham, director and associate professor of gender and women’s studies, said. “We’ve had over 102 presentations since we started this, like ten years ago or more. So it’s a great opportunity for WKU students, faculty, staff and the community to share their work related to gender and women’s studies and that’s what we’re doing today.”

For the second Genderations this fall semester, two speakers, Alayna Milby and Melissa Bond, came to explain the luncheon’s title, “What can gender and women’s studies do for you?” The topics included how the program has helped them both in their careers and day-to-day lives.

“I was invited here by Dr. Branham to speak about my experiences with the gender and women’s studies program and how it helped me to get my position at Hope Harbor, the rape crisis center, and also make me the person that I am today,” WKU alumna Alayna Milby, crisis intervention specialist at Hope Harbor, said.

Milby said the program has helped her to realize how these issues of social justice impact people’s lives every day, as well as giving her the resources to enforce her ideas.

“I realize how important this stuff is and how it really affects people,” Milby said. “Obviously I’m really passionate about it, and taking these courses, I have the research and the facts to back up all of these feelings, all these passions about people. Being aware of how complex these issues are and how it can really affect people.”

Milby said one of her favorite parts of speaking at events is getting to spread her passion and knowledge of gender and women’s studies.

“I get this opportunity to basically be kind of a teacher and carry on what these professors, specifically Dr. Branham, taught me in my undergrad,” Milby said.

Jacklyn Henry, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said students on campus can benefit from coming to these events and seeing how many things can be done within the department.

“[I learned] just what Hope Harbor does and how they contribute to the community. And how gender and women’s studies has helped her become better at her job and how it really helped her find her passion,” Henry said.

Branham said her favorite part about the department hosting these events is getting to see how past students have grown.

“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with student’s who have gone through our program, and graduated, and gone on to do great things,” Branham said.

In the future, Branham hopes to possibly have a Genderations focused on sports.

“I was thinking about doing one on sports,” said Branham. “So I’m thinking in near future, not long terms, but we do two a semester typically, so it’s just a very informal setting for those of us in the gender and women’s studies community to get together and help each other out.”

Milby says she hopes the students who attend her talk explore the options of pursuing their passions and interests throughout college.

“It makes your experience at a university, I think, that much more rewarding when you are in classes, and you are talking about topics that are important to you and that you’re passionate about,” Milby said.

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].