Viviana Bernal '08 and Katherine McGhee '10

Viviana Bernal ’08 and Katherine McGhee ’10 have been chosen out of hundreds of applicants to present a workshop at the 2012 Forum of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in Istanbul, Turkey. The Forum runs from April 19-22, and takes place every three years, bringing together women leaders from all corners of the globe, with the intention of creating a better, more just and sustainable world for all.

Bernal earned her degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and is now a Program Assistant for the program. McGhee studied Anthropology and minored in Women’s and Gender Studies as well. The pair submitted a proposal inspired by the work of their mentor, Marta Benavides, and in October, they found out they had been accepted. Motivated by the support of Marta, as well as other influences such as Esmilda Abreu, Director of Equity and Diversity, and Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Viviana and Katherine began fundraising for their trip.

When asked about this experience, Bernal says that while she finds the whole thing “a little intimidating”, she is excited to “bring a fresh perspective to the conference.” She also mentions that she is excited to take what she learns at this conference and bring it back to the Montclair State community and beyond. “I am looking forward to gaining skills and connecting with women all over the world. I am excited to bring back what I learn and implement it here. I look forward to building a community where I am connecting with other cultures and communities to show that we are not that different.”

“I see all of this as a product of me being a Women’s and Gender Studies major,” notes Bernal, who gives credit to her major, her professors, mentors, and overall experience at Montclair State. She is very grateful for the opportunity and is looking to make the most of it. “I’m looking for forums and spaces to use this, and am hoping to create more spaces to use this information.” Bernal also hopes this opportunity will bring attention and notoriety to the Women’s and Gender Studies program.

One forum in which Bernal intends to share her experience and knowledge that she gains from the forum will be at the Women’s and Gender Studies Department Awards Ceremony. At the ceremony, Bernal will speak about her trip and the conference. This awards ceremony is also to honor students and congratulate graduating seniors. The ceremony will be held on April 26 from 2:30-3:45 p.m. in the University Hall Courtyard Lounge. Alumni of the program, as well as anyone who would like to hear more about Viviana and Katie’s story are welcome to attend.