Rachel Pauli joined Planned Parenthood of Montana in 2010 as a volunteer and college student, and these early experiences sparked her budding career in activism. She is now a Navigator for PPMT and Community Organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana. As a Navigator Rachel helps Montanans understand and access health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. As a Community Organizer Rachel engages and empowers college students and other community members in the reproductive freedom movement, educates voters, and advocates for policies that protect rights of Montanans and promote access to health care. Rachel also is a member of the Young Leaders Advisory Council for Planned Parenthood Federation of America -- as a member she advocates for young voices of all backgrounds to be amplified in Planned Parenthood's work in the reproductive freedom movement. As an advocate for young people, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Forward Montana Foundation. Rachel also serves on the Board of Directors for Open Aid Alliance, which is home to the only above-ground syringe exchange program in the state of Montana. Rachel credits the WGS departments at UM for connecting her with people and organizations that helped, and continue to help, shape her character. Rachel says, "This program gave me the space, in terms of academic engagement, networking opportunities, and personal development, to shape my values and identity in a way that made me feel like my most authentic self. Thank you for the opportunity to be challenged and surrounded by thoughtful minds and spirits." Rachel lives in Missoula. She studies wine, dabbles in humble homesteading, and adores her backyard chickens.
“As a WGS major I answered that ‘oh, what are you going to do with that?’ question a lot (Liberal Arts majors, you hear me.) Truthfully it has been extremely useful, especially because I combined it with hands-on work at the UM Women’s Resource Center and later a certification in Nonprofit Administration. I was able to make so many connections through the program and the WRC, and gain practical skills in leadership and fundraising that were a huge help figuring out my next steps after college. I also think it’s just a ‘stand-out’ major—it’s interesting, even on paper. Plus, you’re lining yourself up to be hired by progressive companies.” -Robyn Hegland, WGSS Alum
After graduating with a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies in 2011, Robyn served two terms as an Americorps VISTA at Women’s Opportunity & Resource Development (WORD) through Montana Campus Compact. Robyn acted as WORD’s Communications and Development Coordinator, and refers to her time there as “Nonprofit Work Boot Camp”. At WORD, Robyn was able to gain experience in grant writing, graphic design, large-scale event planning, and board coordination. Her time there was very important professionally, and helped her success in her current position as Development Coordinator and Grant-Writer for Youth Homes.
Hegland left an openly feminist organization to work for a youth-focused organization, and realized that no matter where she is, she will be working through a feminist lens. The things that make her feel most connected to and passionate about Youth Homes is the Talbot Girls Home, an organic ‘Youth Farm,’ and the work the organization does to house runaway and homeless LGBT youth as well as kids affected by domestic violence.
Robyn cites Women’s and Gender Studies as helping her to remain attuned to inequality. On a more positive and personal level, Women’s and Gender Studies has allowed her to recognize unrealistic beauty standards and appreciate her body for its health and strength, rather than size.
The program is so glad to have had such a positive impact and congratulates Robyn on all her successes!
Class of 2011
I am happy to report I have been able to apply, in a variety of capacities, the skills and knowledge I acquired as a student in the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of Montana. Upon graduating in 2000, I worked as Program Coordinator for the Women’s and Gender Studies program at UM. I also worked for the Montana Feminist History Project, conducting oral histories with women from around the state who were instrumental in advancing the rights and improving the lives of other Montana women.
In 2002, I left Missoula for New York to pursue an MA in Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College, where I wrote an oral history-based thesis on the Lesbian Avengers. While at SLC, I worked in the College Archives, processing women-focused collections, such as papers related to the founding of Women’s History Month. Also while at SLC, I served as Programming Coordinator for the LGBTQ Studies program and in that capacity established an annual Queer Film Festival.
Since 2006, I have been living in Philadelphia, where I worked for several years as Program Manager for Soroptimist International, an international women’s rights organization. As Program Manager, I helped administer and develop programs in pursuit of the organization’s mission to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.
While earning my MFA at Rutgers University-Camden, I put my Women’s and Gender Studies degrees to work by teaching Women’s and Gender Studies courses at the Community College of Philadelphia and at Rutgers University-Camden. Now that I have completed my degree, I am especially excited about teaching a new course at Rutgers University-Camden, Introduction to LGBTQ History, with thirty students who are all very excited about learning the material.
Dawn Walsh, Class of 2000