Thao Nguyen (Women's Studies/Sociology): Singer-songwriter
Thao and her band, the Get Down Stay Down, released their new album, We Brave Bee Stings And All, on January 29, 2008. This was Thao's third album: she released Like the Linen and Day Trotter Sessions while she was still a student at William & Mary.
Here's what Thao wrote about her experiences as a Women's Studies student at William & Mary:
The Women's Studies Program was my home for the duration of my time at the College of William and Mary. This program is why I would come back to Williamsburg even at the height of summer, in full colonial garb, if ever that were a request. My professors and fellow classmates were my friends and family. I would actively choose to float around the Women's Studies hallway just for the chance of running into teachers or students. Those interactions were the high lights of my days. Perhaps you are thinking: "maybe her days were not that great, overall." But they were. Women's Studies just made them better.
So what is Women's Studies? It is the pivotal and imperative fusion of scholarship and activism that helps to fix things so long broken few even realize they are in disrepair. Women's studies majors (and definitely not minors) are not interested in developing ways to procreate without men; we are just as nice or mean as anyone else, and we are over the armpit hair jokes.
Women's Studies can give you a career, or an internship, or whatever else other departments do. What is not so readily available in other realms is the education and the introduction into a lifetime of awareness and social activism and responsibility, nurtured and cultivated by incredibly strong camaraderie and mutual respect. Since graduation I have been on tour in the US and Europe and have started recording a new album. Music is my focus right now but women's advocacy work and feminist action will always be pillars of my life. I have just relocated to San Francisco, drawn by two major features: the intensely inclined hills, so that I might tone my calf muscles, and the non-profit women's advocacy scene. I will be volunteering at the Asian Women's Shelter as a translator, and also at the Women's Building - a space dedicated to women and children non-profit organizations. Women's Studies wants you to do whatever you want, in the best way you can. I am eternally grateful and in debt to all those who energized and inspired me.
Everyone take care of each other, just like we learned.
Stephanie Spong (Women's Studies/English): Master's student/English teacher
Since graduating from William and Mary in December, 2006, I have been traveling, teaching, and learning. I spent the academic year of 2007-8 in rural Japan teaching kindergartners through adults about English and culture from the United States. I was affiliated with the JET program, run by the Japanese government. I have been in Albuquerque since August, 2008, and I've really enjoyed being back in school. My focus was late 19th-century and early 20th-century poetry and the Victorians, but as I finished up my Masters I moved into transatlantic modernism. I'm now working on my Ph.D. at UNM with that as my focus; my dissertation aims to explore the presence of unsentimental and often dangerous love in early twentieth-century poetry and draws from authors like Mina Loy and William Carlos Williams. I also teach writing classes for the English department, which fund the cost of my degree. The thoughtfulness and critical thinking I learned as part of the Women's Studies department at William and Mary definitely prepared me for both my adventures abroad and graduate school. It taught me the incredible value for dialogue and conversation, and in Spring 2009 I was able to help coordinate a new conversation between the English and the Women Studies departments at UNM, as well as many others, which led to a two-day colloquium on women, civil rights, and sexual justice.