Gender & Women’s Studies Major Heads to Brandeis for Graduate Study

Monica Doebel

A Hollins senior will pursue a Master’s degree this fall at one of the country’s 35 best national universities.

Monica Doebel ’17 is entering the graduate program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Brandeis is ranked number 34 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

A double-major in gender and women’s studies (GWS) and English who is graduating from Hollins in three years, Doebel chose Brandeis over the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at the University of Cincinnati, where she had also been accepted.

“It was a tough call between Brandeis and Cincinnati,” she explained. But Brandeis’ strength of faculty, and the opportunity to take classes at other outstanding New England colleges and universities as part of a graduate consortium that includes Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Simmons College, and Tufts University, were deciding factors, as was the constant communication from Brandeis WGS students. “They told me how Brandeis effectively primes people for entering into professional careers or continuing on to get a Ph.D.”

Feedback from current students also played a significant role in helping Doebel choose Hollins for her undergraduate education. She was originally attracted to Hollins because of the creative writing program, “but it was after taking a gender and women’s studies class my first semester that I really considered GWS, a subject I was definitely interested in before coming here, as something I wanted to pursue beyond just taking a couple of elective courses,” she recalled.

One of the strengths of GWS at Hollins, Doebel said, is how it combines academics and self-refection. “The department has given me not just a theoretical backing in the subject, but it has also encouraged personal exploration,” an approach that she said effectively incorporates her interest in creative writing.

Doebel credited Professors Susan Thomas (her advisor) and LeeRay Costa for “influencing the path my academic career has taken. I didn’t envision going to graduate school when I first came to Hollins, but they’ve empowered me and made me feel it’s something I could be successful doing. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and the department has given me a lot, and I’m thankful to both of them.”

While she completes her M.A. at Brandeis, Doebel said her future plans include the possibility of getting a Ph.D., but will remain a work in progress. “Past Hollins GWS graduates have gone on to professional tracks, corporate tracks, or continued on in graduate education. I really feel like my options are open, which is nice.”