Cecilia Turchetti’s graduation marks an important “first” for CLASS. She is the first student to graduate from the College with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.
“I'm really passionate about the topics and was so inspired by the professors teaching WGSS courses,” she says. “I hope I can do their teaching justice and do something great with my degree.”
The BA in WGSS is an interdisciplinary major that integrates aspects of history, politics, sociology and cultural studies to explore and analyze women’s presence and influence in global affairs and development. The historical and cultural roles of gender and sexuality are examined on their own and in their intersections with other cultural markers, such as race, class, age and disability.
“As gender roles shift quickly in all professions and realms of private and public life, and the contributions of women and people of diverse sexualities are increasingly recognized and valued, a major that prepares graduates to ably negotiate these changes provides an important groundwork for success, for both students and the community,” says Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.
Turchetti started college as a psychology major before shifting to English literature and creative writing.
“Under that major, I was able to take some great feminist literary theory courses, and I fell in love with that subject,” she says. “After that, I declared WGSS my minor – but then I found out the major was going to be available. I took all the classes I could until I could officially switch majors.”
Switching into the new major wasn’t difficult because many of her credits simply switched places. Her minor WGSS credits went to her new major, and her English Literature & Creative Writing credits turned into an English minor.
“Cecilia was in a good position to transition because she had already completed her minor requirements, which meant she only needed five more classes to finish the major,” says Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. “She had long been engaged with the gender analysis approach, and when I first mentioned to her that the major was coming online, she said she would like to do that.”
Turchetti’s wants to use her degree to work with young girls in disadvantaged communities, starting with Syrian refugees. After graduation, she plans to travel to Europe to visit family and volunteer with a non-profit organization helping refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.
“Eventually I would like become a lawyer specializing in international human rights or civil rights law,” says Turchetti. “I want to educate and empower those communities – and especially the females of those communities – with regards to health, access and activism.”
An immigrant herself, Turchetti was born in Italy to a family that lived all over the globe because of her father’s work in the oil and gas industry. Before moving to Houston as a sophomore in high school, Turchetti lived in Nigeria, England, Norway, and France. She graduated from the British School of Houston in 2010 and then enrolled at UH.
This fall, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
- By Monica Byars