Erin Butterfield '15: Why Women's History Month is Important
What are you studying?
I'm majoring in political science and minoring in sociology and women's and gender studies.
What made you choose your major?
I've always been interested in social justice and serving others. When I was 15, I attended the Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill Girls Leadership Workshop and learned about human rights and ways that I could affect change. My major and minors are very intertwined and through the knowledge I gain from each of them, I'm able to see the world through different lenses -- and work to create social and political change.
What's your favorite thing about your program?
I've enjoyed all my classes in the political science department and my professors have been an extremely important part of my time at Simmons. Learning from their immense knowledge and experience has been life changing. I feel prepared to join the ‘real world.’
What made you decide to become president of the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Center? What's your favorite part of being president?
Being passionate about women's rights, gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ issues, joining the SWAG Center was a no-brainer for me. After my first year as a general body member, I ran for vice president, and because the president ended up leaving Simmons, I stepped in as president. It wasn't easy to figure out how to run an organization with only two other e-board members, but we worked together -- and had an amazing general body.
I was president of the SWAG Center for my sophomore and junior years, and one of my favorite parts of my time was organizing and leading Take Back the Night. It's a march and speak-out with the mission to end sexual violence of all forms. We invited many other groups and schools from the Boston area, and both years were extremely successful and powerful.
What's your Simmons moment?
I'm the vice president of the Student Government Association, and recently after an event that we hosted as a part of our Women-Centered College Week, I was reflecting upon how far I have come in my leadership roles. Simmons has given me all of the tools necessary to be a passionate, intelligent, and successful leader and through all of my various leadership positions, and through everything I have learned in my classes, I am prepared and excited for what the future will hold.
Why is it important to celebrate Women's History Month?
Women's History Month is celebrated nationwide during the month of March. Because I study Women's and Gender Studies (WGST), I am able to learn about the many contributions that women have made to our world, and the fight that is still going on to break down oppressive and patriarchal systems. Choosing WGST as a minor, I have been asked, "why don't we have men's history?” and my answer to that is that the history we generally learn in school is men's history. That is the same reason that I think it's important to have Women's History Month. We so often forget about the courageous, intelligent, powerful women throughout history and today. It's important to celebrate those women, and to think about why we aren't celebrating and learning about them all year.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am joining the Peace Corps
and departing to Zambia on June 8th, about one month after graduation. I will be a rural education development volunteer, working with elementary and middle school aged children, particularly focused on educating girls and working on gender-equitable practices.
What made you decide to get involved with the Peace Corps?
I had a camp counselor when I was eight years old who told me about the Peace Corps, and I got extremely excited and interested at the prospect of traveling and working with other people. From a young age I knew that I wanted to work with people and make the world a better place. The Peace Corps has always fallen in line with that mission and my passions.
What will you miss most about Simmons after graduation?
The professors, my advisors and mentors, and of course my inspirational friends and peers. I cannot wait to come back and visit, and see how the school is continuously developing and flourishing. I love how open the students are, and what an accepting and inclusive space Simmons is. I feel confident that it will continue to be like that.
What advice would you give to first-year students at Simmons?
Never stop asking questions -- ask your professors any and all questions that you may have, and question yourself. While I have always been passionate about my major and minors, I still had to question what exactly I wanted to study, and what I wanted to commit my time and energy to. Make the best of your time at Simmons; it'll go by faster than you would expect!
What's your dream job?
To own a non-profit that focuses on women and girls around the world. I would love to work with other social and political groups in a variety of countries -- and to make the world a more united and better place.