Internship Leads to Transformative Experience for Women’s Studies Student

By Nancy Bahena
Graduation Date: 2020

Nancy Bahena

When I transferred over from community college to San Diego State University as a women’s studies major, I knew that it would be a transformative experience.

I started first semester with an internship called Engaged Citizenship and Social Responsibility taught by Dr. Irene Lara. This internship used a feminist decolonial intersectional lens to engage the South Bay community and collaborated with established organizations such as California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Through my internship I was I able to bridge my academic work and feminist lens – which helped pinpoint and solidify what I wanted my focus to be in the near future (reproductive justice), who I wanted the fruits of my labor to go to (the Latinx community which I am a part of in San Diego and Tijuana), how I envisioned those connections, (co-creating communal spaces where the exploration of the whole self was allowed and encouraged, celebrating the wonder of learning through justice-doing and knowing that we all have the capacity of being holders of knowledge and brave enough to go beyond perceived learning edges), and why I wanted to do it (to assist, empower, learn from others and make our world a more peaceful and compassionate place).

My internship opened additional opportunities; from participation in a Bread and Roses fellowship, presenting oral storytelling at the Gender, Race and Sexuality Undergraduate conference at Fresno State University and at the Student Research Symposium where we were given a Dean's Award.

My passion for the women’s studies field is fueled by the encouragement of the faculty who believe in our potential not only as students but also as people. The hard work that goes into drafting and making our curricula — its meticulous nature stands out and I find that invaluable. I am also grateful for my peers and instructors for instilling a spirit of heightened awareness, responsibility, and action — making me aware of my unique perspectives and using them for justice-doing, deconstructing and reinventing as I go to learn how to tailor my strengths and lesser strengths to accommodate and better serve communities. These skills are necessary, especially at times when some of us might feel suffocated by the structural and individual oppressors that exist almost seemingly without an end but I know that there are more forces in and out of my field that work together to make positive changes and I want to be a participant in that journey. I am excited to graduate and will continue on to the women’s studies master’s program and plan to work as a future women's studies professor, open my own nonprofit organizations and support centers in San Diego and Tijuana that serve Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities.

Humbly I say, my fighting heart has transcended from theory to action, and through the women’s studies program I was able to align my purpose in life with what I wanted to do.