Unique Course Fosters ‘Complete Paradigm Shift’ in Student’s Perspective

April 9, 2018

Students Finds Minor in Race, Gender and Ethnicity Studies Enlightening

Wilmington College sophomore Steven N. Broussard, Jr., credits a course in race, gender and ethnicity with changing his mindset about historically oppressed and marginalized persons and their place in modern society.

PICTURED: Steven Broussard

“It opened my eyes to new ways of thinking — it resulted in a huge paradigm shift in how I think,” said the junior psychology major from Fort Lauderdale. “I’ve always been passionate about issues of equality, but this class solidified everything and made me realize this is what I want to do.”

It also led Broussard to become one of the College’s first students to declare a minor in a new academic program: race, gender and ethnicity studies.

The course, which was team-taught by English faculty members Dr. Laura Struve and Dr. Ursula McTaggart, delved into issues faced by women, persons of color, differently labeled communities and persons in the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender community.

McTaggart said the new minor “allows students to learn about and appreciate the histories, cultures and struggles of people from oppressed groups. It asks us to consider how human differences in gender, racial or ethnic identity shape us and our larger society.”

Broussard recalls a paper he wrote on American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler that focused on gender identity and breaking norms associated with gender.

“That got me fired up,” he said. It also impressed his professors, who gave him a B+ on his paper and A on his class presentation. He found his even more recent research into gender resolution and the challenges faced by transgendered youth as fascinating.

Broussard has witnessed much in his barely two decades. Born in Seattle and growing up in Detroit, he’s also resided in California and Florida. “Living in both an urban community and affluent neighborhood was a great learning experience for me,” he said. “I’ve seen all facets of life and it’s been exciting.”

Add a rural setting to his set of experiences, as Broussard admitted suffering “culture shock” upon arriving at Wilmington College in late summer 2016. Recruited from Florida to play football, he sustained an injury his freshman season that prevented him from seeing much action.

“I had a tough time when I first got here,” he said, adding that his sophomore year has been a comeback experience in more ways than becoming a starting linebacker in football.

“I finally became acclimated and learned to appreciate what this school has to offer,” he said. “I love my professors — they’re so attentive to your needs and they’re with you every step of the way. You form close relationships on this campus and everybody shares a camaraderie at times.”

Broussard is considering applying for a self-designed major that would highlight psychology and other social sciences, along with his interest in race, gender and ethnicity studies. He plans to go on to graduate school for a master’s degree in such areas as public health or even women’s/gender studies.

“I’d like to create a group in an urban community where we provide a safe place for those kids experiencing these insecurities — a place where they can embrace that they’re different — and it’s OK,” he said,

Broussard is excited about future courses he’ll take in his minor and recommends race, gender and ethnicity studies as both personally enriching and complementing any student’s major course of study.

“Coming from an urban area to a rural area like this, I’ve come across a lot of young adults that haven’t been exposed to very much diversity,” he said, adding that the minor, among other opportunities for personal enlightenment, would introduce them to the urban environment and the plight of oppressed and marginalized persons.

“You’d learn about things you wouldn’t have been exposed to growing up in your neighborhood.”