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Finding Spaces of Growth

October 13, 2017
Teresa Irigoyen-Lopez

After the end of my first semester at Princeton, I had a week-long vacation. During that time I spent hours looking at the websites of the different centers and programs at Princeton. Although I felt like I already knew the campus well and I had found interesting spaces where I felt comfortable, I still felt like there was a lot going on that I was not aware of. Friends would mention an event they had attended or I would suddenly see a poster somewhere on campus about a series of talks that seemed super interesting but which, unfortunately, had already happened. So when I finally had some free time I decided to look through the websites of all the departments and different centers at Princeton to make sure I would never miss these events! That is how I first heard of places that are now very present in my life at Princeton such as the European Union Program, the Center on Contemporary China or the Women*s Center.

Women*s Center

As a junior, the list of places I now frequent and the number of events I add to my Google Calendar has reached an all-time high, but my experiences in them have changed a lot during my three years here. The center where I have felt this personal growth most clearly is the Women*s Center. During the spring of my first year I decided to go to the Class of ’19 Lunch Group that the Women*s Center hosted for the first time, and I remember how comfortable I felt there talking about the many things that I had experienced my first semester at Princeton, and which I did not know I had been waiting to share. We talked about gender expectations in an Ivy League, about transitioning from high school to university and about the still very real gender disparity in STEM fields. After that first lunch, I went back to the Center every Friday and started bringing my roommate and other friends with me.

Later that semester the Women*s Center started hiring student workers, and I became part of the student staff. One of the best experiences of my sophomore year was working there. Not only because it was my first job ever, or because I also got to personally meet the speakers the Women*s Center brings to campus, but also because I felt like I was encouraged to come up with programming that I found exciting and that I thought the student population on campus could benefit from! That is how I started the Bechdel Film Club: a club that screens movies where women talk to each other about something other than men. This has become one of the most successful programs the Center hosts and it is a great way of taking a step back from our academically-driven life at Princeton and reflect of the world outside of the “Orange Bubble” and the patterns that we also repeat on our campus.

If you are interested in the club, you can read more about it in this interview that The Daily Princetonian, our student newspaper, published about us! My experience at the Women*s Center has taught me to never stop looking for spaces where I can work toward promoting the change that I believe in. So keep on searching!