Sierra Voorhies Joins Women’s Center Staff

By Sierra Voorhies

Hi y’all, I’m Sierra Voorhies (she/her)—some people call me Barn Owl, Voorhies, and CiCi  (feel free to use those)—and I am a senior here at UMKC. This will be my third year at UMKC, and before that I spent 3 years at JCCC doing my gen eds and associates. Since this is my sixth year in college, “senior” sounds inadequate. What I really am is someone who’s just getting to know myself as an adult and has about 20 hours left to graduate.

I chose UMKC because I wanted to stay at home and focus on school instead of going somewhere like KU or K-State where I would have to work a lot to make rent. Before this job in the Women’s Center I worked in food service as a server at a pizza place, then as a barista at a local coffee shop (being a barista was more fun but serving made more money). The reason I am attracted to the Women’s Center is because I’ve always been interested in Women’s Issues—in high school I was in the Feminist Club, at junior college I took Women’s Studies and while I’ve been at UMKC I’ve taken Psychology of Gender with Dr. Nilsson. The more I learn about gendered issues and theory the more I realize I have to learn, and I hope the Women’s Center will be a good place to do that, especially here in these blogs—I can talk about what I’ve learned and what I think other people might find interesting, too.

I am also really interested in behavior, and thought processes, which is why I am majoring in Psychology. I think I want to be a counselor, or a social worker in primary schools, but grad programs are being put on hold so I can get a job and move out once I finish my Bachelor’s in the spring. For fun I love to go on walks (not runs), do yoga (not hot yoga), drink coffee (always iced), go thrifting (at like, ATC and Savers), and have deep talks with friends (my zodiac sun sign is Cancer).

Meet Arly Andrade! New Member of the Women’s Center Staff

By Arly Andrade

Hi everyone! My name is Arly Andrade (she/her). I am super excited to be joining the Women’s Center this year! This is my first year at UMKC, and I am a Pre-Dental Hygiene Major. I was born here in KC but was raised in a small town about 30 minutes east of UMKC called Grain Valley. I am excited to experience a new world outside of my small town. I look forward to making new friends, participating in student organizations, and of course working at the Women’s Center!

Women’s rights have always been a passion of mine. Growing up in a Mexican household, I experienced and was surrounded by the machista mindset. I was always told growing up that I couldn’t do certain things because I’m a girl, or that being a girl meant I had to do something.  This mindset continued to surround me once I got into school, and I finally decided to speak up about it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more passionate about feminism. Women’s rights need to be spoken about more, and I am proud to be one of the many voices. I know that working at the Women’s Center will help achieve this goal: letting people know about feminism whether it’s through a blog post, an Instagram post, or an event. I can’t wait to see and share what the Women’s Center offers!

In my free time, I love to hang out with my friends, watch movies, and listen to music. I’m pretty open when it comes to music, and my favorite artist at the moment is Paramore! My favorite song by them right now is “Decode.” I really love spending time with my family too. I have a 4-year-old nephew named Grayson who is honestly the light of my life. Thank you for letting me tell you all a little bit about myself, I can’t wait to see you all in the Women’s Center!

Brooke Davidoff Brings Life Experiences to Women’s Center

By Brooke Davidoff

Hey there, I am Brooke Davidoff (she/her), a 42-year-old single mother and a junior who transferred here to major in Communications with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

I grew up in San Diego in the late 90’s and I majored in print and broadcast journalism at Palomar College.

I went back to school two years ago at Long Beach City College where I got my AA in Human Services. At Long Beach City College, I was the Social Media Chair for the Human Services Club and a writer/editor on the school paper.

My whole life changed when I was diagnosed with HIV as a pregnant newlywed. I was shocked to learn that during a pregnancy is one of the only times doctors test straight women. Within months of my diagnosis, I was picked up as a contracted blogger for www.thebody.com. Eleven years later, I now blog for two websites.

I am excited to work at the Women’s Center because my career goal is to go into HIV education and advocacy for other HIV positive women. The sexual, physical, and mental health of women and other gender minorities is a huge chunk of my passions. We all experience trauma in our lives, and I believe connecting with others who can relate to us helps us to heal. I hope to help teach other women that they are not alone. With the power of #metoo, women are finding the means to break our silence. Together, we can stand up for ourselves and each other! 

Our Fall Editor: Ace Garrett

By Ace Garrett

My name is Ace (she/her) and I am a new face at UMKC. I am a junior this year—but do any other students feel like the last few semesters barely counted? Maybe it’s because I transferred to UMKC last spring (and being on campus again is so new) but I feel as though I’m still wrapping up the freshman year that was suddenly cut short years ago…  maybe some of you know what I mean.

But even with the weight of the pandemic still on our shoulders, we have reason to celebrate this semester! The truly wonderful thing is that most of us are back on campus again, and we have new (and now obviously precious) opportunities to build community and connect again. I can’t say how ecstatic I am that I get to re-enter the college community as the Women Center’s blog editor!

At UMKC, I am double majoring in French and English (creative writing emphasis) and pursuing a minor in Manuscript, Print Culture, and Editing. I’m a Kansas City native, having moved back home after my short year spent at Occidental College in Los Angeles. I have always had a travel bug, and I never would have imagined attending college in Missouri, but I have already fallen in love with the Roo Community and am so grateful I found my way here.

As a woman and a lesbian, I jumped at the opportunity to intern at the Women’s Center. I am very passionate about gender equity and all branches of activism brought to the feet of our generation. Day to day, I spend lots of time with friends and family, play recreational volleyball, ride dirt bikes with my dad, study way too many languages, read and write (especially poetry), and try try try to stay on top of my schoolwork. True to my adventurous nature, I am at UMKC in pursuit of moving abroad post-graduation and travelling the world as a freelance copyeditor (and maybe a language teacher, writer, or translator thrown in as well).

I can’t wait to learn and grow with you all this semester, I hope you will appreciate everything we have in store!

Hello Again! Returning Women’s Center Student Staff: Brianna Green

By Brianna Green

Hello, my name is Brianna Green! I am a UMKC senior and I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is my second year on campus and working at the Women’s Center. I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and transferred from a local community college. I initially decided to come to UMKC because of my minor but, over the year since I’ve moved here, I’ve grown to really love Kansas City and the Roo community.

I came to the Women’s Center for a second year because of how much I enjoyed it last year! Although last year was great – it was virtual. I was inspired me seeing how much we were able to do while being virtual, but I’m excited to see how much more we can accomplish now that the Center is fully open and can have in-person events. I’m so happy to be a part of a place that tries to offer so much to UMKC students and greater community as a whole.

Outside of the Women’s Center, I am also a RISE intern (fall semester), and the Psychology Club President and Psi Chi Service Chair. Outside of UMKC, I am an AmeriCorps Member at Harvesters – The Community Food Network. I love going on walks and hikes, car rides, traveling, and spending time with my friends and family. After I graduate this spring, I plan to go to graduate school! Which school and which program exactly is TBD for the time being. 😊

Aurora Joins the Women’s Center Staff

By Aurora Wilson

Hi everybody! My name is Aurora Wilson (She/Her) and I am incredibly excited to be joining the Women’s Center. I was born and raised in Grain Valley, Missouri which is small town about 30 minutes away from KC. I am a freshman this year and am majoring in Political Science. Living in a small town for all my life, I cannot begin to explain how overjoyed I am to be attending a university devoted to diversity and inclusion. I am looking forward to meeting new people and growing as individual through new experiences.

I have always had an interest in women’s rights. I can remember, in sixth grade, getting in arguments with fellow classmates when they said, “girls can do this” or “girls aren’t allowed to do that.” I can recall feeling angry and offended but I was more confused than anything else of why I wasn’t allowed to do certain things just because I was a girl. As I have grown older and learned more, I have discovered the intricacies of feminism and critical need for the education of Women’s rights for everyone. The Women’s Center encompasses this. I am looking forward to learning more about feminism and holding events to help disperse that knowledge. I can’t wait to meet new students and community members and share all resources the Women’s Center has to offer!

When I am not busy with school and work, I love to hang out with friends, read, listen to music and podcasts, and workout. I love to read pretty much anything and try to explore all the different subjects. I like to listen to indie- folkish music, rap, RnB, pop and my current favorite artist is Taylor Swift. I really love doing yoga and hiking and anything that will get me outdoors. I also have a cat who I am obsessed with and miss very dearly but I do force my parents to send me daily pictures of her.  Thanks for letting me share a bit about myself and I hope to see you all in the future!

 

The Women’s Center Has a New Graduate Assistant

By Taylor Michl

Hello there! My name is Taylor Michl (they/them), and I am joining UMKC Women’s Center as the Graduate Assistant for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters! I am so looking forward to working with this wonderful team.

I am a master’s student in UMKC’s Counseling program with an emphasis in Mental Health. I was recently awarded the Preparing Future Faculty fellowship, which will allow me to earn a graduate certificate in College Teaching and Career Preparation through the School of Graduate Studies. One of my greatest passions is qualitative research, specifically exploring the lived experiences and stories of transgender and gender expansive (TGE) communities. I currently lead a research team based at Webster University in St. Louis in a follow-up study exploring the study abroad experiences of TGE students. I also serve as a Research Assistant and Qualitative Interviewer for a project at MU exploring identity realization and transition across generations. Finally, I recently assisted with an experimental study exploring the impact of self-compassion on TGE body image and well-being through UMKC School of Education. Talking with folks about the joys, hardships, and complexities of gender-based marginalization, and identifying common themes among these stories, is one of the most sacred, beautiful things I get to do with my time. After graduating, I plan to pursue a PhD in Counseling Psychology in order to continue this research, become a faculty member, and see clients in private practice.

As someone who graduated with a degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I was instantly drawn to the Women’s Center’s mission of advocating, educating, and providing support services for the advancement of gender equity on campus and within the community at large. One of the most powerful tools we have to fight against oppression is community. Having a place to come together, bear witness to each other’s experiences, educate one another about our similarities and differences, and commit to advocating for each other is invaluable. That powerful, transformative, community-building space I just described is the Women’s Center, and when I learned this, I knew this was where I needed to be.

How Plants Helped My Mental Health

By Morgan Clark

Recently, I became a full-blown plant mom, something that I am very proud of. My plants helped me stay sane during those long days of quarantine. I live by myself, unless you include my rambunctious puppy, Xena. For the most part, I enjoy having a place to myself. Not worrying if my music is too loud or asking myself how I can be considerate of the other person. To balance my time by myself, I usually step out to hang with friends, which enables me to power up my social battery. This could not be done since March of last year due to Covid, and, unconsciously, I developed a new hobby.

First, I bought one plant to liven up my house, Then I bought another one. And now I have 20 plus plants. There was a time when the employees where I bought my plants knew my face from the many times I visited there. Some would say I have an addiction, but I did notice something important. When I take care of my plants, I feel better. It is like I am taking care of myself, and I feel lighter each time I water and clip my babies. Days when I wanted to stay in bed (and there were many during quarantine), I got up to open the blinds for my plants. Which somehow put a battery in my back to start my day. When I feel lonely, stressed, or down, I go to my “green room” and tend to my plants. It calms my nerves and gives me something else to focus on. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a new bulb from one of your plants. My plants are a reflection of my mental health.

I grew up with plants in the house, because my daddy had many plants. At a young age, I did not understand why he cared for them so much, but I now realize that plants support one’s mental health. And, I am not the only one. I have friends who have realized this too. We now share a bond based on what plants are easy to care for and what plants are harder to grow. Whenever I can, I recommend for people to bring plants into their house, even if it a cactus. It can be a challenge at first, but nothing is more rewarding than having plants…trust me.

 

 

End of Year Reflections: Morgan Clark

By Morgan Clark

We made it! Another semester in a pandemic and…whew I am tired! I will admit this semester was kinder to my mental health mainly because of the weather. Dealing with school along with a pandemic in the winter is NOT healthy. But luckily the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. This semester at the Women’s Center we had many events. I started this semester with Welcome Week. I was able to create social media posts, introducing our staff to the masses. My next event that I thoroughly enjoyed was Afro Femme. A social media campaign to inform our followers about Black feminists/womanists. Doing this event allowed me to gain knowledge of women I knew little to nothing about, which made me want to learn more on their theories on feminism. March was Women’s History Month and we did a lot. One my favorite events was Every Body is Beautiful Week.  I think this was an important topic to speak on especially with the pandemic, many people’s bodies have changed and that’s okay. The last event that I enjoyed was the Intersexions and Identity webinar. I consider myself an ally to the LGBTQ community, and this webinar was a place where I able to listen. Not only to listen but learn how to be a better ally. The webinar also addressed the Latinx community, which allowed me to learned about the history of the word “Latinx” and the issues that some have with it.

I think the Women’s Center did a good job adjusting to the pandemic. I have to admit it was a bit hard putting events together for social media when it was previously an in-person event, but we did it. I think this semester we tried to find ways to gain more engagements on social media, besides likes. It was frustrating at times when there was little to no engagement but I had to remind myself that it is a pandemic. This is still a challenge for the Women’s Center now but I do believe that once the campus opens up this will change.

For me this semester was about learning and creating for and from the Women’s Center. I have gained knowledge from our forums, social media events, and from myself. I think that the Women’s Center fits well with my social ideologies and my work personality. Working here has shown me what I do want in a career and what I don’t want. I am appreciative of the Women’s Center and look forward to work with them this summer.

End of Year Reflections: Mia Lukic

By Mis Lukic

My time at the Women’s Center was nothing short of amazing. I loved getting to learn from the phenomenal directors, fellow staff members, and friends of the Women’s Center. I feel like I have grown as a woman, professional, and feminist. I have loved writing these blogs and getting time to research and write about some important topics. I was also the project leader on three awesome programs: Equal Pay Day, Women’s History Month, and Rising Gardens.

Rising Gardens was by far my favorite. It was a new program that I did a lot of research and planning for. It was a part of One Billion Rising, a subset of the new V-Day celebrations. Its focus was on how gardens connect to everything and have the power to heal. The first part of the program was during Black History Month, and focused on the Black community, food desserts, and how gardens can be used to combat food insecurity. The second part fell during Women’s History Month and focused on women in agriculture and the difficulties they face. The third and final part was in April and led up to Earth Day, and focused on climate change and the women working to combat it. Over the course of the three months, our staff had home windowsill gardens where we regrew food scraps and repurposed jars and containers. On Earth Day, we gave away food scraps and containers so people could start their own gardens.

I am so grateful for my time at the Women’s Center and although I will not be working there next semester, I will certainly remain a devoted follower on social media and visitor as the center is slowly opening back up. I look forward to wrapping up my undergraduate studies next semester and starting law school!