Dez Fifer

Aiden Colburn

Senior in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


While completing university core requirements, Aiden Colburn developed an interest in the social sciences, which led him to major in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

How did you select Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as your major?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I first got here. Then through taking some of my core classes, just to fulfill university requirements, I really liked a lot of social science classes. Sociology was when I was first introduced to gender studies. When I learned a little about that in sociology, I wanted to learn a lot more, so I eventually decided to major in it.

Did you bounce around between a few different majors?

Oh yeah. When I first came here, I did financial planning, which is far from anything I want to do. I don’t know why I chose that. Then I went to psychology. I still think that’s interesting, but it’s a little too sciency for me. I had interest in science majors, but I didn’t really have strengths in areas like science and math, so I just felt like a liberal arts major was a better fit for me overall.

How off-base is it to assume that most of the people in your major are women?

In all my WGSS classes, the majority is definitely women. Yeah, I’m definitely a minority within that major. It’s not really (uncomfortable). I don’t mind it.

What classes have resonated with you within the major?

I really like learning about the different types of experiences and the diversity of people. I feel like that’s really what the major is all about. It’s not just about women. It’s about a ton of different groups. It’s about different racial groups, different gender identities, different sexualities. It’s about everything – just about human diversity in general.

What’s the story behind the independent study you completed with Professor (Jennifer) Freeman Marshall?

This past summer I went to the Trans Philly Health Conference (the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, an annual meeting of transgender people, advocates, and health service providers). Once I came back from that, I don’t remember how we got started talking about it. I was just telling her about it and how it was and she said, ‘It would be cool if you could write a paper on that or do something where you could get some type of credit out of that experience.’ So based off the experience of going to that conference, we decided that doing an independent study about transgender communities and resilience within transgender communities would work. So that’s basically what the whole project was centered around.

What were your conclusions in that project?

I analyzed a lot of autobiographies by trans authors, a lot of different research papers that were more current on stuff like that. I identified certain resilience strategies of transgender people of how they just survive everyday life and struggles.

There are aspects of this major that are still pretty new. Is there something appealing about studying in a major that can be molded as society changes?

I feel like it’s always very current. It’s not something where, yeah you learn about older things, but you stay in the loop with current events, too. I really like that aspect of it.

When you look ahead toward your professional career, what avenues are you interested in exploring? Where do you think this major is going to lead you?

I’ve been looking at jobs related to the health field. Not exactly medical, but health services. I think it would be cool to work in some type of clinic that mainly serves LGBT populations or work at some type of health clinic that’s for underprivileged people that might not have the resources to get proper healthcare. There’s so many different possibilities of directions you could go with it, honestly. It’s really whatever you want to do.

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