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Madeline Brooks at the Old Well

Madeline Brooks took “Introduction to Women’s Studies” (WGST 101) out of curiosity during her first semester at Carolina.

Four years later, she names the class — and how it related to her life experiences and the experiences of others — as the catalyst for her major in women’s and gender studies. 

“Not only did this class give me the words to describe the conditions I was already experiencing,” said Madeline, “it also opened my eyes to the ways in which patriarchy is deeply connected to other systems of oppression, such as white supremacy, classism and ableism, in ways I had yet to recognize.” 

A senior from Chapel Hill, Madeline also discovered interests in religious studies, her second major, and social and economic justice, her minor, during her time at UNC. The areas of study complement one another seamlessly, she said. 

“I have found that there is so much overlap between my majors and minor that, if you looked at the titles of most of my final papers, you often wouldn’t be able to tell which department it fell under.” 

In her religious studies classes, Madeline found her knowledge and understanding of patriarchy and gender added indispensable perspectives. In her social and economic justice courses, her major and minor informed one another equally. 

“You can’t understand any form of (in)justice without first understanding the systems of oppression that create and uphold the conditions for that injustice,” she said. 

Outside her classes, some of Madeline’s favorite memories at Carolina have been with her friends on the UNC women’s club rugby team. 

“The sense of community and personal growth I developed through my time on this team are almost indescribable,” she shared, adding that her teammates made her “feel like I had a space where I belonged at UNC.” 

After she graduates this May, Madeline plans to pursue a career rooted in justice and advocacy, core elements of her “Social and Economic Justice” class and minor. She hopes to work as paralegal for a social-justice-oriented law firm and has interests in housing and labor rights. 

By Jess Abel ’19

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