John Montgomery Scholar Liam Fuller ’17 discusses the decision to major in women’s & gender studies, what it means to be a leader and their advocacy for students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ+).
Clubs and organizations:
Spectrum (president), Spectrum House (house manager), Office of LGBTQ Services (training and education pride coordinator), D-Tones (music director), Feminist Collective, College Choir, Liberty Cap Society (tour guide) and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.
John Montgomery Scholarship.
On choosing a major:
I’m interested in women’s & gender studies partly because I've always lived a very woman-centric life—I’m close to my mom, I have a lot of female friends, my dad's side of the family is dominated by matriarchs and I've had a lot of mother figures in my life. I also like the fact that it's the study of women as multidimensional people (i.e., it includes the study of race, gender, sexuality, ability, status, class, religion and ethnicity, and how they relate to women). It’s a very personal, subjective field of study that I feel emotionally attached to, and I make new discoveries and have epiphanies almost every day.
For pleasure: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling; Academic: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa.
On choosing Dickinson:
I chose Dickinson because I wanted to make a difference; at a larger school, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in so many different leadership positions. I also wanted to be in an academically rigorous environment. Because of the small class sizes, I get to spend a lot of time with my professors both inside and outside of the classroom, and I get to participate in class often. I have always wanted to live in a different country, so the study abroad program drew me here as well.
Favorite place on campus:
My room in Spectrum House.
Favorite Dining Hall food:
Introduction to Francophone Cultures, taught by [Associate] Professor [of French and Francophone Studies Benjamin] Ngong. I got to grasp how colonialism really has a disastrous effect on cultures; it ruins civilizations and suppresses identities. Also, it was an honor to learn about colonialism and its effects from someone who has the lived experience of growing up in a colonized country.
I was really inspired to become a women’s & gender studies major after taking [Visiting Assistant] Professor [of Women’s & Gender Studies Jennifer] Musial’s Gender and Pop Culture class. Professor Musial has an eye for picking brilliant content. For example, in Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies, she discussed women’s roles in contexts such as global capitalism, hip-hop and immigration. I also really like the way she facilitates conversation in an organic manner, guiding the conversation without being overbearing.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
… an ornithologist, a scientist who studies birds.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
Read the subtext. Now, when I'm reading a text, I look at what is being said and what is unsaid. It’s important to take note of who is being conveniently left out of the conversation. For years, people belonging to oppressed groups have not been allowed to have a platform to speak, so it’s essential to analyze a text and see how you, as the reader and interpreter, can carve out that space for others. I’m a person who comes from a lot of privilege, and I think it’s absolutely necessary that I use that privilege in a way that amplifies the voices of others, instead of silencing them.
I absolutely love to sing.
A few people I know have told me that I inspire them, or that I am a leader to them. For a long time, I didn’t consider myself a leader, because I’m pretty shy and introverted. However, now I have realized that even though I can be soft-spoken, the volume at which I say things doesn’t matter—it’s the content.
In a perfect world …
… there would be no institutional forms of oppression.
My mom. She has always stood by me and whole-heartedly supported me. She taught me that the most important thing in my life is my integrity, and I cannot let anyone try to take that away from me.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Audre Lorde, one of my all-time favorite feminist writers.
About my on-campus job:
This year I am the training and education pride coordinator for the Office of LGBTQ Services. Last semester, with the help of my boss, Erica Gordon, I drafted both a Trans 101 training and an Ally 101 training. The Trans 101 training is a presentation that gives cisgender people the opportunity to learn about what "transgender" means, and how to support trans people. Ally 101 is for people who want to make the effort to be an ally of the LGBTQ+ community but don’t really know where to start. It introduces them to terminology and also tries to walk them through what being an LGBTQ+ identified person can be like.
I think there is also a lot to be done in the framework of Greek life too, and I feel so grateful that I am able to lay the foundation for this work here at Dickinson. We had a training session with the all of the fraternity pledges here on campus, and we had some great participation from people in the audience. I also had the opportunity to lead training at Kappa Kappa Gamma’s chapter meetings, and I was so impressed by the sense of community and really engaging members who stepped out of their comfort zones.
Published June 16, 2015