GESJ Grads

Gender Equality and Social Justice majors have a variety of options available to them after graduation. Here are some of our recent graduates reporting on what they are up to today.

Kim Wakeford

In the five years since graduating from the Gender Equality & Social Justice program (BA with Honours, double major with English Studies), I’ve hit several other professional and academic milestones, thanks in no small part to the skills and tools I picked up in this department.  The critical thinking and communication abilities I honed within the GESJ department have earned me internships, writing and editing contracts, and admission into excellent schools. In particular, I found that the GESJ Honours Seminar was just the right mix of self-directed and faculty-supported learning so as to prepare me for further higher education. 

After graduating in 2012, I worked for two years before going on to my Master’s degree in Gender Studies, during which time my research focused on critical discourse analysis of federal policy development on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.  The rigour and high standards set by GESJ faculty left me well situated to complete this degree in two years, all while holding several Research and Graduate Assistantship positions and earning a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies Award.

Currently, I am employed by the Native Women’s Association of Canada as a Policy and Research Analyst in Justice and Human Rights.  This puts me in the unique position of doing work that is often precisely in line with my studies and passions.  For this, I am extremely grateful to my professors and mentors within the GESJ department.

Caitlin Don

After graduating from the GESJ program in 2007 I looked for a future working with marginalized communities.  I worked for an AIDS service organization for a number of years, as an office administrator and volunteer coordinator. This work was rewarding and allowed me to further develop and use the skills and knowledge I gained from the GESJ program.  In 2011 I returned to Nipissing University and earned my BSc Nursing through the Scholar Practitioner Program, a 2-year second degree nursing program. 

Currently, I am working as a registered nurse with the University Health Network in Toronto. My focus is in the Inpatient Mental Health and Inpatient Eating Disorders programs. I am also completing a Collaborative Academic Practice Fellowship through UHN that will allow me to create practice change towards better patient experiences. My experiences in the GESJ program have helped frame my nursing practice, and helped influence how I provide care to my patients.

Ann Welsh


Having graduated from the Gender Equality and Social Justice (GESJ) program at Nipissing University, I cannot emphasize enough the quality of the program and its ability to prepare its graduates for working in a community setting or further studies. I graduated with a 4 year Honours Bachelor of Arts in 2006. Very shortly after graduating, I was hired as a researcher for the North Bay Newcomer Network to study the experience of immigrants in the North Bay area and conduct a subsequent needs analysis. Although this may not immediately seem relevant to my area of study, the parallels are many. What is even more important is that my educational background gave me the theoretical framework in which to think about the issue of immigration from not only a gender standpoint, but also a social justice perspective. Being able to situate my research within this framework enabled me to push the limited scope of the initial research proposal to one that called into context the multifaceted and complex nature of immigration and the immigrant experience. The value of pushing those boundaries were, and continue to be significant. From influencing municipal planning strategies to think beyond economics to creating socially conscious committees on the topic of immigration, my studies at Nipissing in the GESJ program prepared me to think critically and act with awareness.

I am currently working as the Program Coordinator for the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, which is an immigrant settlement agency in North Bay. Without the theoretical and historical perspectives taught in the GESJ program, I would not have been prepared to create programs and work with clients in a way that values and takes into account their varied experiences and the forces that condition their lives. This, in itself, is so crucial in community work and is an element that is lacking in many other programs.

The GESJ program gives its students the ability to analyze and understand the world in a different way, “out of the box” thinking that is necessary for all those who wish to make a difference in the lives of others. You will learn to question, to critique, to probe issues; you will learn to think.

Oweeny DeSilva

OweenyDeSilvaOriginally from Colombo, Sri-Lanka, I was an international student at Nipissing University. I graduated from the Gender Equality and Social Justice Program in 2006. An area that garnered my interest was international human rights and law. This area has proved relevant to the world we live in today and all aspects of my life, including my career. During my student days at Nipissing I was afforded many opportunities to get involved in student life which enriched my studies. The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) was one instance, where I was able to attend a youth conference and lead many student volunteer driven activities. This opportunity enhanced my first hand experience of working with people from diverse backgrounds. I was also fortunate to work in many of the departments at Nipissing University, including the Nipissing International Centre. Each of these experiences gave me the confidence and experience to make a formal link between the theories taught in the Gender Equality and Social Justice department and building my career. Currently I work for the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre in North Bay. Within the Host program, I work as the Centre’s volunteer and events facilitator. Within the last year, my present position gave me the great pleasure of working again with the Gender Equality and Social Justice department in putting together International Women’s Week activities. This collaboration would not have been a success if not for the knowledge I acquired as a student at Nipissing University and the wonderful relationships that continue with the faculty of Gender Equality and Social Justice. The department prepared me to undertake my present job with greater understanding and the faculty of this department continue to inspire me to this day in my professional and personal life.

Tiffany Boisvert

TiffanyBoisvertI cannot say enough how much I enjoyed the Gender Equality and Social Justice program at Nipissing University.

As a high school student I was not aware that programs such as this existed! I came upon it by chance when I enrolled in the Introduction to Gender Equality and Social Justice course my first year of studies. I was majoring in another subject area, but enjoyed this elective course so much that I registered for more Gender Equality and Social Justice courses my second year. Part way through my Power, Oppression, and Human Rights course it became clear – I had found my passion. I decided immediately to change my major to Gender Equality and Social Justice. It was amazing – finding something I really looked forward to studying. One of the things I loved most about the program was its relevance to every day life. Unlike some subjects, where you memorize your information only to use it in essays or at work, the material covered in the Gender Equality and Social Justice program comes up in day-to-day conversations. Politics, religion, racism, classcism – these are issues that are woven into the fabric of our lives – they are inescapable.

In addition to the fascinating subject matter, I also had fabulous professors. Each of them had their own creative means of making sure the class stayed engaged. The presentation of what is often called ‘controversial’ subject matter led to intriguing debates. Student contribution was always encouraged – lectures always involved some sort of dialogue between the professor and the students. Most importantly, my professors taught me the value of critical thought, forming my own opinions, and finding appropriate arguments to back them up. The professors and the program taught me never to accept anything at face value – to always delve into the underlying issues.

The valuable lessons I learned through the program extended beyond the classroom. My professors encouraged me to join the Nipissing University Women’s Centre – a student organization that coordinates many events and activities on and off campus to raise awareness of human rights issues, promote equality, and combat apathy. Together we successfully carried out campaigns for many great causes – including combating violence against women, and raising funds for local women’s shelters. The Women’s Centre also sponsored the poster campaign I organized to demand intervention to stop the rape and genocide in Darfur – an issue closely related to my thesis work on the criminalization of rape as a war crime and the ability of this move to provide justice for women.

My four years in the Gender Equality and Social Justice program have fuelled my passion for human rights. It is thanks to the positive experiences I had in this program that I have decided upon my career path. I was recently accepted to the law program at McGill University in Montreal, and will be pursuing a concurrent civil and common law degree in the hopes of becoming an international human rights lawyer. Upon graduation I plan to work with an organization such as the United Nations, or Amnesty International to combat mass human rights violations.

I feel that I have been well prepared by my undergraduate experience at Nipissing University, where my professors in the Gender Equality and Social Justice program, who knew me on a one to one basis, helped nurture my specific interest and gave me the tools I will need to succeed in law school. I highly recommend the unique experience offered by this innovative program.

Recipient of Nipissing University’s Chancellor’s Award and the Northern Area Women’s Institute Scholarship.

Lettie Gariba

lettie_gLettie completed a double major in Gender Equality and Social Justice and Philosophy. She went on to complete an M.A. in International Affairs at Carleton University where she researched the impact of globalization on sustainable development and gender equality, particularly in her home country, Ghana. She is presently part of the Policy Team of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres where she works as the Trades and Apprenticeship Policy Analyst.



Kate Lawless

KateLawlessThe most fabulous thing about the GESJ program is its simultaneous breadth and specificity. Unlike my previously attempted degrees (in bio-medical science, photojournalism, and ecology), GESJ taught me how to think critically, and in particular, how to think against or beyond my “commonsense” assumptions and reactions. This is the most productive tool any academic program could provide. Thus, my engrained “biological determinism” (you are female) was replaced with exciting post-structuralist notions of discursivity and social constructionism (what is female?); “newsworthiness” became diverse debates about contemporary issues of gender in the media; and ecology morphed into eco-feminism, geo-politics, and the crises of globalization. My undergrad thesis, Hysterical Operations, was concerned with the (re)construction of female subjectivity in the disparate works of David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers and Orlan’s performance piece The Reincarnation of St. Orlan. Now, having finished a two-year MA program at Trent University in Theory, Culture, and Politics, I have become more familiar with the long-standing conversation of the French and German philosophers who whose work has informed much of the feminist theory that is my foundation. My Masters research project looked at what it means for us to have an aesthetic relationship to (auto)biographical representations of illness, and the ways in which this relationship is informed by, yet transcends, traditional (medical, political, and art historical) discourses. I am now pursuing a PhD in the Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario.


K’Sah Woodley

KSahWoodleyI began my university education in the fall of 2005. I was anxious to delve into the world of Gender Equality and Social Justice after traveling over 2359 miles from Kingstown, St. Vincent & the Grenadines to North Bay, Ontario. However, my first class left me disappointed, disturbed and very uncomfortable. My limited understanding of Gender Equality and Social Justice did not include discussions of sexuality, diversity, or sex roles. When I made the decision to assign Gender Equality and Social Justice as my major I was under the impression that I would be reading and researching theory on women’s rights and workplace inequality. For weeks I struggled with changing my major and conforming to my religious teachings that insisted that “man was the head of the home” and “homosexuals were sinners” as opposed to understanding for myself the intricate world of gender, sexuality and inequality. In the end my curiosity took over and it is a decision I will never regret. My experience as a Gender Studies student at Nipissing University has forever changed the way I experience the world, as a Black, heterosexual woman. In the future I would like to pursue a Masters in Women and Gender Studies at the University and Toronto. I would encourage everyone to become a part of the Gender Equality and Social Justice Program, or at least take some Gender Studies courses while studying at Nipissing University. I think it is a great opportunity to see and understand how gender roles shape every aspect of our society. An extra bonus is having the opportunity of being taught by the most amazing, approachable, knowledgeable and helpful professors that Nipissing University has to offer!

I graduated in June 2009 with a BA Honours in Gender Equality and Social Justice. For now, I am working as the Youth Host Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Bay and District. As the Youth Host Coordinator I match newcomer youth aged 8-24 with a mentor who is familiar with North Bay and with Canadian culture. This alleviates some of the stress of moving to a new country and adjusting to things that Canadians may find commonplace, such as weather, food, transportation, and language. Along with their mentors and group activities newcomer youth find opportunities to practice English, make new friends, and adjust to life in Canada, and access community services and employment.

My studies in Gender Equality and Social Justice have amply prepared me for my role as the Youth Host Coordinator. My lessons in women and diversity help me to understand the delicacies of immigrating to a new country and how culture, religion, racism, and stereotypes can affect the lives of my clients. The fact that most of my clients are women also gives me an opportunity to share the knowledge I have about women’s rights in Canada. Having an undergraduate degree that allows me to apply the knowledge that I have gained in university is proof enough for me that Gender Equality and Social Justice is important and applicable to ‘real’ life experiences.

Renee Valiquette

renee_vA graduate of GESJ, Renee Valiquette is a PhD candidate in Social and Political Thought at York University. Her dissertation research draws on 20th century French philosophy to further our understanding of nature and current ecological crises. Renee has been a university Lecturer for seven years, teaching primarily at Nipissing University’s North Bay and Bracebridge campuses for the Gender Equality and Social Justice and Arts and Culture programs. She also teaches at York University and the Ontario College of Art and Design. Renee is committed to fostering classroom environments filled with rigorous and provocative dialogue that asks students to reflect on the unprecedented and urgent challenges of a 21st century global society. She is the 2011 recipient of Nipissing University’s Part-time Teaching Award.


Scott de Blois

ScottdeBloisI majored in Gender Equality and Social Justice with a minor in Sociology. The Gender Equality and Social Justice program was the ideal fit for me, and right from the first class I finally felt like I really belonged. The GESJ program literally transformed my entire life and majoring is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I would most strongly recommend this program to anyone who believes a better world is possible, even for mature students like myself. On a personal note I have been HIV positive for probably going on twenty years. To say the least, I have experienced a share of pain and heartache in my life. The GESJ program taught me to see hope even when things seem bleakest. The professors and students were incredibly supportive of my situation, and I have made some lifelong friendships as a result. I am currently employed as a research associate for the Ontario HIV Treatment Network based in Toronto. My job mainly entails research and field interviews. My territory covers Northern Ontario, however, I mostly work from home. I have done public speaking for a number of HIV/AIDS organizations about my personal journey. Additionally, I have served on working groups from the Public Health Agency of Canada to the Canadian Treatment Access Coalition regarding HIV and the incarcerated. I am working right now to produce a field manual to assist AIDS Service Organizations better serve the needs of those incarcerated with HIV or at risk of contracting HIV while in prison. I am also the Advocacy Representative on the Board of Directors for the AIDS Committee of North Bay and Area. If you are looking for more than just a degree, and perhaps a life changing experience that will encompass your entire being and forever enrich your life, then look no further than the Gender Equality and Social Justice program.

Dawn Lamothe

DawnLamothe_jpgIn 2013, Dawn completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender Equality and Social Justice. She currently works at the North Bay Indian Friendship Centre as a research associate for the two-year project Urban Aboriginal Communities Thrive, which is a community-driven capacity building initiative in North Bay. Dawn is also a superintendent of a building owned by the local Children’s Aid Society where she mentors and supports youth transitioning from foster care to independence. In her spare time, she is currently learning about the four medicines and the healing Jingle dress, adding jingles daily to her dress to dance in powwows in the coming year. Excerpts of Dawn’s Honours thesis — “The Intergenerational Effects of Indian Residential Schools on Foster Care Today: A Personal Narrative” — are now available in the online journal Society for Building a Healthy Kugluktuk. Click here to read her article. Nipissing University is very proud of her work, as evidenced by this announcement: