The Scoop with Dr. Kate – Summer 2024

Hello again dear Gender and Women’s Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies alumni!

Dr. Kate at her own graduation.

A very happy cusp of summer to you! We have reached the end of another academic year, and with that occasion, we are gifted the opportunity to reflect on our own collegiate experiences and the feelings evoked as we consider what was going on in our world when we moved our own tassels from one side of our caps to the other. Though I am not a UW-Madison alum myself, I finished my bachelor’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies at Beloit College, and had the sincere privilege of being our graduating class commencement speaker back in 2009. That year, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th United States president, International Transgender Day of Visibility was founded by Rachel Crandall Crocker, the Great Recession was ongoing, global conflicts abound, and Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga were topping the charts. As we spring into summer, we invite you to look back on your own graduation years and share some of what was happening in your community and around the world.

We are bursting with pride and taking this moment to celebrate our amazing graduates! GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies students continually embody and practice what they learn in our classrooms. They are intelligent, creative, and courageous thinkers, learners, and doers. This spring 2024, we have seen and felt the rage, solemnity, humility, and exaltation manifest by our students as they dream of new worlds, give care to their communities, deeply engage, and enact equity, justice, liberation, and hope for the future.

We are also so proud that one of our students, the incomparable Gracie Nelson (double major in GWS and Political Science), gave the commencement speech as senior class president during the graduation celebrations this year. Gracie’s journey here at UW-Madison is ending, as is the case for our hundreds of GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies seniors. They now make the keenly felt transition from student to alumnus, and we sure are excited and emboldened to see what comes next for these remarkable humans.

Photos from the GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies students and Alumni bonfire.

This spring we also practiced joy in community by hosting our very first alumni campfire! For this event, we invited five of our awesome alumni to meet undergraduate students, speak about their experiences post-graduation, answer questions, make s’mores, and share in some general merriment with music and beautiful weather around a lovely campfire! (A particularly well-built one, if I do say so myself.) Tremendous thanks to Dean Dvorak, Delaney Agnew, Rachel Litchman, Ollie DiPietro, and Abbey Perkins for agreeing to take part in that event! It was such a success that folks expressed wanting to make campfires a regular occurrence! Stay tuned for more fire fun coming soon…we plan to have an alumni/student campfire hang to kick off the fall semester!

As beloved alumni, we want to create varied and awesome ways for you to stay in contact with us, connect with other alums, staff, faculty, and our students, share resources, and feel the benefits of being a part of this enduring GWS and LGBTQ+ Studies community! If you have not gotten a chance to, I would love to hear from you about what kinds of programming you’d like to see! You can also find the linked survey on our Alumni and Friends page on the Gender and Women’s Studies website!

Based on responses from the survey for engagement I sent out in the previous newsletter, we are excited to get two new alumni programs up and running in the coming fall semester! The first: a GWS/LGBTQ+ Studies in Action podcast! We will feature alumni on each episode of the podcast to share about their time at UW-Madison and talk about how their experiences in our department and programs influenced their lives! The second: a GWS/LGBTQ+ Studies reading group! A primary sentiment alumni expressed in the engagement survey is how they miss the opportunity to intellectually connect with community, so the reading group will be a means to create that connection! If you would like to be a part of that reading group, you can email me at!

For this newsletter, I end with the resonant words of Chicana lesbian feminist writer Cherríe Moraga: “The process of liberating ourselves is not a singular act, but rather a collective endeavor.” I look forward to more collective endeavoring in coming months!

Onward the journey!

With gratitude,

Katherine Phelps, Ph.D.
Teaching Faculty, Gender and Women’s Studies, UW-Madison
GWS Alumni Engagement Coordinator