Meet Kathryn M. Cooke, Class of 2008

Kathryn M. Cooke

Pronouns: (she/her)
Double Major: Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Current position: Office and Gifts Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad Foundation

What drew you to take courses focusing on gender, women and sexuality during your time at Virginia Wesleyan?

I had always had an interest in feminism, intersectionality, and gender. However, I actually started at VWU as an Environmental Studies major and took GWSS courses thinking I would just get a minor in it for fun…then I fell in love! I ended up loving my GWSS courses so much I dropped everything else to focus on GWSS as my major.

What do you remember most about your experiences studying GWSS?

Particular classes (like Women in Film, Art Gender and Violence, and Love Sex and Marriage) completely changed the way I viewed the world and have stuck with me ever since. I got to apply that knowledge through service and activism clubs on campus that gave me experience that later helped me in my career. However, the most memorable thing would have to be my group study abroad trip to London and Paris where I did my independent project on women in advertising and comparing exploitation between the US/England/France.

In what ways did your experiences in this interdisciplinary program assist you beyond college?

I went on to work in nonprofits, so I’ve been able to apply my education, externship experience, and extracurricular activities from VWU to so many different positions. In my career I’ve been able to act as a healthy relationship mentor while working with adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities, act as a team leader for a domestic violence and human trafficking crisis hotline and shelter, teach about domestic violence/sexual assault/stalking/human trafficking and racial justice while running that nonprofit’s volunteer and internship programs, serve on a committee for LGBT+ survivors of violence resources, and volunteer as a board member for a chamber of commerce that uplifts local LGBT+ businesses, among other fulfilling experiences. The GWSS program gave me the foundation and community connections to be able to explore a meaningful career that makes a difference in my community.

What advice do you have for other students who are considering taking a course on gender, women and sexuality studies?

The number one thing I heard from people when I said I was majoring in WGS was “you will never use that! You will never get a job with that!” However, in the almost 14 years since I graduated college, there is not a single point in my career where I’ve not used my knowledge and skills in some way- whether that has been with my full-time career or volunteering on committees or serving on Boards. The best advice I have is to follow your interests and passions, because that will lead you to the meaningful career that is right for you.