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Geena Kerr, BS 2016

What made you major in WS?

I came to the University of Michigan with the plan to major in Movement Science and go on to physical therapy school. I first realized I wanted to major in Women’s and Gender Studies, though, after taking Women’s and Gender Studies 220: Women and Health. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, and this course was an excellent introduction to that. The course ignited my feminist ideals and highlighted the connection between feminism and my future career. Pairing Movement Science with a Women’s and Gender Studies major allowed me to take such a wide variety of coursework, and after my first class I continued to enjoy the professors, readings, and classmates I encountered in Women’s and Gender Studies.

What was your favorite WGS course?

Picking one course is too difficult! I loved my first course, Women’s and Gender Studies 220: Women and Health, and Women’s and Gender Studies 330: Feminist Thought with Victor Mendoza really challenged and broadened my understanding of feminism. I also really enjoyed Women’ Studies 348: Sociology of Sexualities with PJ McGann and Women’s and Gender Studies 446: Sex in the City with Gayle Rubin. There are so many wonderful classes offered by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and many I would still like to take.

You're currently finishing a doctor of physical therapy program–tell us more about that.

After graduation, I moved to Chicago and started my three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am currently in my final year of the program and I am very passionate about going into pelvic health physical therapy. Physical therapists, especially those who specialize in pelvic health, can help men, women, and transgender persons with issues like incontinence, pelvic pain, and pain with sex. My degree in Women’s and Gender Studies has helped me to understand the social and systemic issues behind these health problems and consider my position in helping to treat them.

Has your WGS experience affected the way you approach your current work? How so?

My experience in Women’s and Gender Studies has definitely impacted the way I have approached physical therapy school and will also influence my future work as a physical therapist. My time in Women’s and Gender Studies has made me consider the power dynamics that are present in my role as a physical therapist. Ensuring that my patients feel empowered in their healthcare is something I am very passionate about. Health is about holistic care and if I can play a role in advocating for care for patients, I am willing to do it.

Do you have advice for WGS students interested in pursuing health-related careers?

The critical thinking skills that you develop as a Women’s and Gender Studies student are extremely important in any health-related career. Healthcare is a complex system with unique power dynamics and privileges, and understanding these dynamics will make you a better healthcare professional. Most importantly, though, I think Women’s and Gender Studies students understand the importance of advocacy, and in any health-related career it is extremely important to advocate for your patients.