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Andrea Johnson

Women's Studies

New Lenox, IL
English – Literary and Cultural Studies
Women, Gender & Sexuality
Study Abroad:
Bonn, Germany
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Chocolate chocolate-chip
Best Adjective to Describe You:

In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
The inter-connected nature of identity is ever-present in academia and life.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
The focus on unpacking and complicating the “objective” forms of knowledge, identity, and experience drew me into the department. Grappling with important taboo topics that have names i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia etc. as they are present within our studies and life keeps me coming back. Also, the community of Women, Gender, and Sexuality feels like a home: a safe place to challenge your ideas and beliefs.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Don’t let the negative media (and sometimes campus) stigma surrounding WGS prevent you from taking a course in this area. Overcoming that stigma is an important step in allowing yourself to open up to marginalized and silenced voices in academia that WGS centers. Also, be willing to confront the ugly truths as they apply to you and the rest of campus/the world.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
WGS has become a lens through which I experience all of my other interests and activities in that I am always observant, questioning, and seeking out what is not said or present. I am involved in POWER (the feminist group on campus), the Pre-Law Society, and K-Crew (the student leaders who greet prospective students). No group or space is completely safe or perfectly politically correct, so WGS’s critical perspective becomes one such way to include a multiplicity of ideas and understandings that are often forgotten.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Life is complicated and people are complex. People are always looking for an easy answer, for an easy way to categorize people, places, and things; but life and people are not simple. “K,” the WGS department in particular, has taught me to interrogate simple statements and answers because simplicity often ignores many people’s life experiences and assumes rigid identity categories rather than fluid, shifting identities.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
U.S. Ethnic Literature has been my favorite class thus far because the course was designed to challenge constructions, manifestations, and implications (both historic and current) of race as portrayed in literature, media, and ourselves as students. This class forced us to face the ugliness of the realities of our racially-stratified society, and our own varying levels of discomfort with race in general. It allowed for genuine and necessary discussions and examinations of race to take place. This class is relevant to every student no matter your major or interests.

What is your SIP?
My WGS SIP focuses on women lawyers’ embodied gender identity as it negatively and positively affects their personal and professional experiences in the legal field. Through personal interviews and academic research, I hope to explore the ways in which local women lawyers navigate the increasingly subtle forms of inequity through their experiences. My SIP will (hopefully) provide understanding and evidence to necessary changes that are needed in the practice of law in order to truly work towards equal treatment, respect, and success. My SIP combines my passion for the legal field, gender identity, and academic work into one.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
After graduating K, I will take a gap year to pursue work in the legal field for practical experience before applying for law school the following year. My ultimate goal is to become a lawyer somewhere in the Midwest where I can combine my WGS critical perspective, my predisposition for social activism, and my academic and professional strengths into one in order to attempt to dismantle problematic systems of injustice (patriarchy, racism, ableism etc.).

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