GWS Student Spotlight – Elise Fjelstad

Elise Fjelstad is a senior with majors in Sociology and Political Science with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. Elise will graduate in summer 2023.

Why did you choose GWS & LGBTQ+ Studies?

As a political science and sociology major, I really wanted something that I was super interested in to complement my work in those areas. I’ve been active in social justice work for a while, and the GWS curriculum really caught my eye, so I decided to do a certificate. It was also where I saw myself represented in classes for the first time, which is really important for students with any marginalized identity. And although I was originally just looking forward to the material, I quickly became really impressed by the work of so many faculty in the department and it was something I thought I might want to be a part of.

Has GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies changed your approach to your involvement (on or off campus) during college? If so, how?

GWS has taught me how to critically evaluate the world around me, and truly question how and why different systems operate and manifest. GWS added another dimension to my anti-oppression work and made me a more conscious activist.

How has GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies shaped your future plans?

I absolutely loved all of the GWS classes I have taken, and I think so much of what I’ve learned is vastly applicable. I’m hoping to go into academia, and honestly I don’t think I can avoid GWS informing my approach to my work. Additionally, the department’s strength in disability studies has made it so that, even though UW doesn’t have a separate disability studies certificate or department, I can still demonstrate the basic knowledge of that area thanks to some of the GWS classes I took. This background has really informed what I hope to accomplish as a sociologist. Right now, I’m working on my senior honors thesis for sociology with Professor Kelly Ward, where I am researching when and how disabled/chronically ill young adults engage in self-advocacy when seeking medical care. I am excited to hopefully further close the gap between the disciplines of sociology and disability studies.