What They Have To Say

What impact did CST have on your post-MHC studies, life, profession, or activism?

Shannon Weber, Class of 2009
The CST department, combined with the rigorous, intellectually  invigorating MHC atmosphere and philosophy in general, has more than  prepared me for grad school.  In CST, graduate-level thinking is  expected and promoted on a daily basis, as evidenced by CST majors'  individualized research, close readings of the texts, intimate  collaborations with faculty, and critical approaches to major social  issues.  I could not think of a single better major to prepare me for  the world of thinking, writing, and teaching that lies ahead for me in  my Ph.D program in Feminist Studies.  I will be forever indebted to  the CST program and CST-friendly faculty, all of whom deeply enriched  my cherished Mount Holyoke education.

Lauren Breunig, Class of 2008
CST helped me zero in on a topic (experiential education) that was compelling to me and allowed me to explore it from multiple angles, which means I've been able to make connections to my CST studies in all the various jobs I've had in the past two years since graduation.

CST gave me the flexibility I needed to really focus on something very specific and fill my schedule with classes that addressed my particular interests. Although I now wish I had taken some methods courses, at the time I was glad to have the freedom to only take classes that seemed directly relevant.

My advice: Don't skimp on the methods/stats classes, because (as someone who didn't take them) it seems like they teach really valuable long-term skills I wish I had now. Make connections with people and organizations outside of Mt. Holyoke--can your CST project and explorations be of use to the greater community?
Those relationships are very special, and it's important to engage with real people while also digging deeper into theory.

Leora Morinis, Class of 2008
CST gave me a set of critical thinking tools that I am certain will serve me no matter which career and life path I choose. The wonderful guidance I received from the professors with whom I worked the closest gave me a much stronger sense of my areas of interest and of ability, and of what it means to be an academic.

Vanessa Di Cecco, Class of 2007
CST gave me a critical and rigorous education that has formed the base for all of my activities post-graduation. Indeed, my continued personal,
political, and academic experiences have deepened and expanded upon the ways of thinking about and critiquing the world that I developed as a CST major.

CST offers the unique ability to weave together diverse types of thought and to develop one's own way of understanding the world via the best aspects of
various disciplines. I feel so privileged for the background and freedom that CST provided for me now as a master's student in Public Health, where most
other students struggle to think outside of the limits established by their undergraduate disciplines.

Miriam Janove, Class of 2006
CST gave me the ability to think critically in all fields. I set my major aside for a couple of years while getting my feet on the ground financially, but never lost interest in anti-racism work and when the correct job opportunity came along, I was prepared for it!

I appreciated CST's flexibility to allow me to study many different disciplines. It felt like a liberal arts degree at its finest. Each discipline has strengths and weaknesses, so by studying many, we (CST students) were able to draw on the strengths from each.

My advice: Don't worry too much about whether your major is something "useful." You are much more likely to learn the studying, understanding and thinking skills that you need for the "real" world if you are studying what YOU find interesting.

Stephanie Converse, Class of 2005
I wouldn't have my job if it weren't for my CST studies at MHC. CST has had a profound positive impact on my life.

What CST offered: A way to put all my interest together in a meaningful way. I would have felt stifled with a department discipline.

My advice: Get some hands-on experience to go with all that great theory you're learning. I got my job because of the skills I learned in my Web Audio Journalism class at WMHC.

Laura Diane Norton-Cruz, Class of 2004
Where to begin? CST allowed me to acquire invaluable skills of critical thinking, analysis, and exploration. As a teacher, these skills helped me to problem-solve the difficulties in my classroom and to zoom out and see these problems within a larger context. They helped me in engaging my colleagues to question biases they held about our students, and in creating feminist solutions to gender bias and gender bullying in the school. As a sexual violence educator and now as a graduate student doing social work and social work related research, my CST skills and breadth of knowledge allows me to infuse a global, cross-historical, critical, theoretical critique into the work I do. This, I believe, makes my work more culturally sensitive and responsive and more able to challenge oppressive power dynamics.

Caroline Clyborne Ramirez, Class of 2003
The professors taught me how to become a better writer and a more analytical thinker. I critique the news differently and am more likely to assert my opinions.
My advice: Travel and go to graduate school early. The older you get, the more you develop roots that can impact those choices. Roots deepen life but narrow the path.

What CST offered: The most important questions of our time are not to be found within the rigid confines of one way of looking at something. Departments limit the number of ways that a subject is approached. CST allowed for a more comprehensive look at the truth.

Shannon Gessner, Class of 2003
Taught me to think critically, not accept the status quo- plus awesome interview Q "tell me about your major" so much more fun to talk about than accounting or marketing.

What CST offered: Whoistic approach to thinking- multi-faceted approaches, much like the "real world".

My advice: There is no truth when people tell you that a liberal arts degree cannot help your professional life.

Trisha Tanner, Class of 2000
CST (and Mount Holyoke) prepared me for the host of challenges and opportunities in store for every job-seeker and professional. The level of independent inquiry required by CST has influenced how I approach the work world--enabling me to chart a career path that has included fields as divergent as technology, nutritional biomedicine, and the arts. Creativity, flexibility, and innovation are valued and supported through CST's multi-disciplinary approach; and these characteristics are vital in today’s global workplace.

Kelley Page Jibrell, Class of 1999
Words cannot express the impact that CST has had on my life. I am the Chair of the Board of Directors for an award winning NGO based in Somalia. I am a strategy consultant at IBM where I currently consult US embassies all over the world! Previous clients include the Pentagon, NASA, and Dept. of Energy. I have presented at industry conferences based on my inter-disciplinary beliefs and approaches. My CST major was hands down one of the best decisions of my life. The clients I support require me to have a VERY well-rounded and depth of understanding of government, int'l relations, cultural awareness, analytical thinking and superior presentation and negotiation skills.

My advice: Go for it! Believe in your passion, dream or idea. You may be creating a new trend for the future and paving your own way. Don't worry about, "What will I do when I graduate!" You will excel and try different internships to see how your intellectual quest best applies to different types of work environments.

Lucia Reid Lawson, Class of 1998
It completely prepared me for the rigors of law school writing and research and made me a critical thinker. It changed my life.

What CST offered: It was flexible and challenging and yet, it allowed me to be very independent and creative. It was structured but not stifling.

My advice: Take as many classes as you can! Engage the professors--ask them questions and for their opinions--they are some of the most amazing people I've met.

Alexa Yesukevich, Class of 1996
I'm still studying variations on the same themes I began studying at MHC. From critical social thought, I moved into graduate work in politics and then sociology, finally earning a PhD from Cornell University.  My concentrations now are gender, cultural sociology, and social movements.
Almost 20 years after graduation I could still easily call my work CST.