Photo caption: Dr. Rose-Marie Avin receives a gift from the WGSS/REGSS faculty during the Women’s History Month Awards Celebration on April 4, 2023. From left to right: Dr. Josephine Kipgen, Dr. Kong Pheng Pha, Dr. Rose-Marie Avin, Associate Dean Margaret Cassidy, Dr. Rae Langes.
“To become a feminist is to stay a student.” -Sara Ahmed
When I came to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) in 1987 as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics, I did not know that I was going to have an amazing journey full of wonders, surprises, discoveries, new friendships, and incredible experiences. But the most wonderful experience of all was meeting and interacting with many of the students in the Department of Economics and the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. formerly known as the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. I would like to reflect on my work as a teacher, mentor, and transnational activist.
As a teacher, I have collaborated with my peer faculty across the UWEC campus on curriculum issues to enhance the learning experiences of all our students. I strongly believe that a curriculum that includes a discussion of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability and their intersections benefits students in all disciplines. Using an intersectional feminist lens means that we recognize the historical contexts surrounding critical social issues such as racism and sexism, class discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia, among others, and how their impacts extend across generations and geographical boundaries.
As a mentor for faculty, I have strived to assist all to improve teaching and provide support in their work. Through collaboration, I worked to share my experiences and expertise to help junior faculty and students find their voices within the complex structure the university embodies.
Mentoring students has been my lifelong passion since I arrived at UWEC in 1987. I have worked tirelessly to support our students, especially our minoritized students. I have brought students along various study abroad opportunities. For example, I developed study abroad programs in Argentina and Nicaragua that focus not only on culture but also on race, class, gender, and sexuality issues. I have conducted research with students on the work of women factory workers in Nicaragua, and on women entrepreneurs in Vietnam. My work with students has always been to enhance their learning environment and broaden their horizons.
I am so thankful for all the opportunities that gave me transformative experiences in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua, Spain, and Vietnam. I have developed rich friendships that I will cherish forever.
I am also thankful to have worked with so many wonderful faculty who have been my friends, teachers, and mentors.
Lastly, I want to thank the many students in the Departments of Economics and Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality studies for welcoming me and helping me understand their worlds better. I would like to end this letter by quoting Yuna Khab, a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major and a Topical minor, who wrote to me when they learned that I was retiring:
It is wonderful to hear that you are finally retiring, even though I'm sure it comes with a lot of bittersweet feelings. I hope you never forget how many students' lives you have enriched. The Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department will be empty without you, so I thank you for your dedication to and love of liberation, education, and most importantly, care because, in my own case, you have changed me forever (and for good). I wish you luck in finding a place where you can relax more.