Sasha Sabherwal

"I graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) in 2014 and am now a PhD student at Yale University in American Studies. Arriving at UC Irvine in 2009 was a daunting and overwhelming experience, but these anxieties were quickly mediated through my courses in GSS. The department offered me an intimate home to think critically, ask questions, and build on my ideas. Rather than simply responding to given questions, the department challenged me to interrogate the very logics attached to the questions themselves. The seminar space of my GSS courses provided meaningful discussion that I had not found elsewhere at UC Irvine; the conversations mattered because we were concerned with what was at stake. These conversations pushed me to deconstruct concepts of power and dominant hierarchies that I had initially taken for granted. In addition to reading highly sophisticated theoretical texts and asking me to think rigorously, the department provided immense support and resources in my pursuit of graduate study. For instance, GSS offered generous funds to attend a national conference, gave me a platform to present on my research, and assisted me with my application to graduate school. Alongside these incredible opportunities, many of my GSS professors encouraged me to read closely, apply a critical lens, and make an argument — skills that are now integral in my current training. I truly believe that without GSS as a home, I would not be in a graduate program. I would not be committed to a transnational feminist analysis, nor would I know how to read advanced texts and make convincing arguments about them. The department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at UC Irvine is a model for interdisciplinary scholarship invested in a pedagogy that engages with their students in meaningful and life-altering ways. It is from my experiences with the department that I too hope to work as a professor in a gender and sexuality studies department one day. This would not be possible without the brilliant GSS faculty members who are committed to first-generation college students like me."