Irina Rojas '18 during her semester abroad in New Zealand.

Women’s studies major Irina Rojas ’18, who intends to minor in biology and psychology, is studying in New Zealand for a semester. She spent two summers volunteering as a translator in the Labor and Delivery Unit at Tufts Medical Center, which kindled her interest in the reproductive health experiences of women with high-risk pregnancies. She spent this summer researching that issue with Professor Cara Jones and Dr. Errol Norwitz of Tufts Medical Center. Rojas wrote this reflection.

I originally came into college thinking I would take the premed track and major in one of the ‘hard sciences’ or French because I enjoy it so much. I had never heard of women and gender studies until freshman orientation week when my Adirondack Adventure trip leader, Rachel Green, insisted that I take the introductory class after telling her how much I enjoyed spending my summer volunteering in the Labor and Delivery Unit. So I took it as my interest class. I quickly found myself dedicating most of my time to readings and research projects for the class because I would get so excited to talk about them with friends in Commons or the next day in class.

Many of the readings have helped me understand several issues from a critical feminist perspective. As a first-generation Mexican student and Hurricane Katrina survivor, the topics explored in the class allowed me to notice similar patterns of certain social inequalities also played out in reproductive health experience of many women. It was all suddenly so important to me. I am glad that I let myself explore classes I had never imagined myself in. I am thankful for my advisors who reminded me that it was ‘OK’ to completely change my ‘original college plan,’ because, had I not, I may not have been as happy and passionate about my studies as I am now.

I am grateful that at Hamilton I do not have to give up of the idea of pursuing nurse practitioning if I major in women and gender studies. In fact, two of my favorite classes, “Gender and Disability” and “Women in Medicine and Technology” touched on topics of gender, sexuality, health, and more that intersect beautifully.

I can see myself being happy working in women and children’s health. Interacting with the patients at such a personal and professional level would just be wonderful. It would be cool to get my Ph.D. in nursing after my master’s. Perhaps I’ll end up teaching, doing more interesting research, or getting involved in social and/or political work, advocating for improvement of women, children and families’ health care rights.

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