Social Justice, Activism, and Career Preparation: A Reflection by Angelica Mishra

I’ve worked in the Women’s & Gender Resource Center in Landis since 2017, the spring of my sophomore year. I had already declared my Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies major, but I was still debating what other major I wanted to combine it with. My good friend Elaine Hang (shout out to Elaine!) had worked at the WGRC and recommended I apply since I was passionate about women’s issues and they were looking to hire. As clichéd as it sounds, it seems like networking really does come in handy!

I don’t remember anything about the interview or my first day here, but I remember not having the confidence that I could perform the job well. I first learned how to design posters using Canva here, an immensely valuable tool that I use all the time now. I was still learning my place at Dickinson and figuring out my four year plan, but everyone in Landis welcomed me with open arms and helped me along the way. I also began as a first year as a founding member of Dickinson’s chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a group that coordinated and cosponsored events numerous times with the WGRC, so I acted as the liaison as a member of both groups.

Through both the WGRC and AAUW, we held events for Equal Pay Day and International Women’s Day, and staff guided students through AAUW Start Smart Salary Negotiation workshops twice during the year. Equal Pay Day, which marks the day into the year the average woman has to work to make the same amount as a white man did the previous year, usually falls in early April. So, a woman has to work an average of 4 extra months to catch up to what a white man made in 12 months. For our events on Britton Plaza we always handed out cookies, sometimes with percentages on them, and spread information about the importance of raising awareness of the gender pay gap. For our first annual International Women’s Day event, I was abroad in India, but fellow exec members said that many feminist groups participated and the event was fun and lively. It was a great opportunity to teach and share with the Dickinson community important issues facing women around the world, and just to share cultures. Finally, the Start Smart Salary Negotiation workshops I attended were singlehandedly one of the most productive sessions I’ve gone to at Dickinson. I’ve gone twice, once as a freshman and once as a senior, and each time we learned smart, strategic ways to negotiate a salary, which helps close the gender wage gap.

Fast forward to 2 years later, and here I am writing this blog. I’ve designed more posters than I can count, and on a good day I can whip one up in about 35 minutes. I’ve planned recurring annual events and new ones with fantastic speakers and topics that help foster inclusivity on our campus. I’ve had the opportunity to go to amazing Clarke Forum talks and blog about them for the Landis Blog afterward.

baby Wobbles at the Dickinson Farm

My favorite event of the WGRC though had to be this year’s women’s retreat at the farm. I participated in the women’s retreat my sophomore year, and I had a blast. I remember doing yoga (with a stuffy nose; that wasn’t fun), making a collage about who I thought I was, and feeding sheep in the freezing cold. This year I was part of the planning team, along with Jones ’19, Ariel Li ’19, and Jordyn Schwartz ’21. I hadn’t realized during my sophomore year how much planning and logistical work it took to jumpstart the event, but it was a fun learning process. From the beginning of the fall semester of last year, we held planning meetings where we came up with ideas for what we would do, what food we would eat, and who would do what. Despite the actual Friday we left for the farm being super rainy and gross, the event turned out to be enlightening and a bonding experience for all the folks who attended. We kept some themes and programming from past years, such as feeding the sheep (this time it was a baby named Wobbles!) and making collages, but we also added some new ones like a self-defense class by Prof. Qualls and inviting Dr. Dragone of the American Studies Department to speak.

But most of all it’s been the people at Landis who have made my experience here so valuable. The Kims at the front desk were always the best people to see when you were feeling down or when you needed to take a break and go downstairs to make some tea. From the upstairs work area where students usually go, you’re close to the offices of Vincent Stephens, Donna Hughes, and Erica Lawrence, who are all such a family and really care about creating the best programs to improve our campus day by day. And, last but not least, Donna Bickford has been such a mentor to me during these formative college years that I can’t thank her enough. From encouraging me to be confident in myself, to being my professor for 2 engaging WGSS classes, to giving me career advice and suggestions, Donna is a strong and solid presence on this campus who truly cares about students and is passionate about the work she does. All the folks who work in Landis, from staff to student workers, have shaped my time here to be the amazing and enriching experience that it was. As graduation looms closer and closer, I feel both scared and excited to start fresh outside of Dickinson’s limestone walls, but I know my experience at Landis has helped me grow confident in my abilities to move forward and has given me the chance to bond with incredible people with whom I’ll stay in touch.

Written by Angelica Mishra ’19, WGRC student worker and Vice President of the Dickinson College AAUW chapter

May 1, 2019