Paige Leiser – Alumni Spotlight, Class of 2022

Paige Leiser (she/her) graduated in May 2022 with a degree in Political Science, and certificates in Gender and Women’s Studies, Education Policy, and Global Health. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Boston University’s School of Public Health, focusing on Public Health Law and Policy. Her primary focus is on sexual healthcare access for young people and the relationship between civic health and public health. She will complete her program in spring 2024 and will be relocating to Washington, D.C., next year to work as a federal health consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. 

How does GWS matter in the day-to-day of your professional life?

GWS has been an integral part of my educational and professional journey. The foundational, essential knowledge that I gained from this department in my four years at UW-Madison has and will continue to shape my entire career. I am a more inclusive, thoughtful, introspective human because of the wonderful work that happens in Sterling Hall and beyond!

Do you have advice for students who share their interests and may want to pursue a similar graduate degree and/or career?

I have been exceptionally fortunate to surround myself with fantastic mentors throughout my educational and early career experiences. I know so many people say this, but mentors are truly some of the most important relationships that you can build into your life. I decided to pursue my master’s degree because of the supportive mentors who recognized my passions and encouraged me to extend my education beyond my four years at UW-Madison. I am so grateful for each and every one of them!

What do you remember fondly from the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies? Favorite class? Instructor?

I had the opportunity to take many enriching classes while working on my GWS Certificate, but the most significant and memorable experiences I had within the department stemmed from my friendship with Dr. Kate Phelps. We initially met when I signed up for a session Dr. Kate conducted on body mapping as part of her wonderful work with the 4W Initiative. Later, in my final semester at UW, my best friend and I took Dr. Kate’s course Framing Fatness, which remains the most profound and important class I’ve ever taken. Words cannot fully capture Dr. Kate’s impact on my life, and I am incredibly grateful that GWS was the home that brought us together!

What, if anything, do you wish you could tell your undergraduate self?

I would tell my undergraduate self to slow down and enjoy the wild, exhilarating, and exhausting ride! Most alumni will tell you that your time at UW-Madison will go fast–and they are right! I miss sitting on Bascom Hill on a spring day while Carillon Tower is ringing the bells, singing Varsity with 80,000+ Badger fans, and sitting on the Terrace eating Babcock ice cream every day! Embrace every moment, even the tough and scary ones, as they’re all part of the experience. I promise that it is all worth it. Good luck, and most importantly, On Wisconsin!