Middlebury

 

Using your GSFS Degree

We recently checked in with four WAGS alumnae, Stephanie Poplika ’05, Lauren Curatolo ’06, Zohra Safi ’09, Christine Bachman-Sanders ’09 and Jamie Mittleman ’10, who are doing very well for them­selves. Find out what they are up to now.

Stephanie Poplika ’05:

As a doula (professional labor sup­port), for the past four years, I have assisted hundreds of women through their pregnan­cies, births, and postpartum peri­od. I have helped them breathe and find com­fort during labor; I have caught babies as they slide into the world; I have guided them to latch onto the breast for the first time and watched the tears of a new father and the triumph of a new mother. I find this deeply satis­fying work. How­ever, I was con­sis­­tent­ly reminded of the need for research that attends to the complex­ities of birth. This past summer I traveled to northern Uganda and started apprenticing as a student mid­wife in a rural birth clinic. My extensive practi­cal experi­ence uni­que­­ly situates me to contri­bute new  ethno­graphic analy­ses of train­ing, know­ledge, power, and resis­­tance in childbirth, both in the West and cross-culturally. My aca­dem­ic inte­rests lie at the inter­sections of social and medical anthropology, feminist studies, and the politics of repro­duction. Recent­ly, I applied to PhD programs in cultural anthro­pology so that I can further anthropological knowledge and produce tangible solutions for improv­ing maternal and child health­­care outcomes. I hope to become a trained midwife while completing a doctorate and blend both theoretical explorations and practical applica­tions.

Lauren Curatolo ’06:

Lauren was recent­ly invited to help ring the bell at the NASDAQ to help raise aware­ness about human trafficking in  the United States. A pro bono project called VS, dedicated to ending human traf­fick­ing, was featured that day. Lauren grad­u­ated from CUNY School of Law in 2012, and passed the July 2012 New York Bar Examina­tion. At CUNY, she was part of the Inter­national Women's Human Rights Clinic, and worked on two projects as part of her clinical work. She worked with The Legal Aid Society's Traf­ficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project (TVLDAP) and then did a fact-finding mission in Haiti on the pervasive issues of sexual assault, sexual exploit­ation, and violence against LGBQT persons post-earthquake. She is currently volun­teer­ing for TVLDAP. In addition to her position there, she is working in the Brooklyn and Bronx Housing Courts, provid­ing legal services to fulfill the immense unmet legal needs of low-income New Yorkers. She also works with Women's Link World­wide as a fellow­ship attor­ney, researching, editing, and sum­mar­iz­ing cases as needed for the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, a program designed to high­light written decisions or statements made by judges, administrative bodies, defense attorneys, prose­cutors, UN Com­mit­tees, asylum boards, or any­one else acting within a legal context. Her passion is working with survivors of human traffick­ing who are being crim­inal­ized every single day for engag­ing in behavior in which they did not freely choose to be involved. She is working on build­ing a career that will allow her to work with indi­gent clients who desperately need their voices heard and repre­­sented in the legal system, and she will continue to take the steps necessary to make sure that she will be a voice for those who have been silenced, mar­gin­al­ized and/or forgot­ten.

Zohra Safi ’09:

I am cur­rent­ly do­­­ing com­­­­mun­­­ity work in Toronto help­­­­­ing immi­­grants and new­­­com­ers. I am also serv­­ing on the board of the Toronto-based Afghan Women Orga­ni­z­a­tion (AWO). I greatly enjoy the work that I do especi­ally with immigrant women and youth who come from varied back­grounds trying very hard, despite a myriad of barriers, to thrive in a new environ­ment. While doing com­munity advo­cacy, I have realized how impor­tant it is to have, at least, some basic know­ledge of gender related issues in order to design and implement programs that will serve a pur­pose and have a positive impact on the targeted group. I remem­ber learning about the relation­ship between patri­archy, class, and race in my Founda­tions in Women and Gender Studies course with Professor Moorti, and now I am seeing first­hand how the inequal­i­ties immi­grant women exper­ience in their home countries mani­fest them­selves in different forms in their adopted country. Being equip­ped with the right knowledge gives me an edge when dealing with different groups of people.

Christine Bachman-Sanders ’09

For the first time since grad­­u­­­ating  from Mid­dle­­bury in 2009, I am back in the class­room, and loving it! This past fall, I began a Master’s program in Media, Culture and Communi­cation at New York Univer­sity. The faculty and students that surround me come from a wide variety of depart­ments, em­pha­sizing the impor­tance of an inter­disci­plinary focus. In the first weeks of the program, I found myself despe­rately learning a new theoret­ical language in order to com­mun­i­cate with my col­leagues and profes­sors. This two-year pro­gram has me already thinking seriously about what comes next. In the fall, I’ll begin my thesis and apply for PhD programs—now that I’ve had a taste of academic life again, I am certain that it is where I belong. Just today, I thought back on my time at Middlebury while writing my senior thesis, as I re-watched the 1927 film Metropolis. The film made a cameo appearance in the conclusion of my senior thesis as I theorized about cyborg femi­nism. Today, I fantasize about turning that into the founda­tion of a master’s thesis. But I have a few months and a summer of bicycling across the country be­fore I launch into that project… Until then, I will happily indulge in the joys of academic explora­tion—and plenty of cyborg-themed films.

Jamie Mittleman ‘10

After grad­u­ating from Mid­dle­bury, Jamie Mittelman ’10 started a Sister-to-Sister Program at the Asian University for Women in Bangla­desh, where she worked as a grammar teacher. Upon her arrival, she immediately detected a need for a mentoring program, in which more advanced students connect with younger students. One way that the female stu­dents connected was through food. Since they all hailed from different countries, some of which had recently experienced ethnic warfare, the students shared their cultural traditions by preparing healthy meals in the “Eating Better Food Committee.” Jamie thought of an innovative way to capture the energy of this intimate and ultimately peace-building activity. She proposed the publica­tion of a cookbook to which students submitted a recipe and a story. Jamie pro­duced a beautiful book entitled Butter Tea & Banana Soup: Food as Identity, which aims to empower these students by giving value to their experi­ences. The book also made it onto the desk New York Times journalist Nick Kristof and was reviewed on his Half The Sky blog.