November 15, 2018

Shannon Boerner ’15

Integrated Marketing Producer at Fast Company 

I was a kid feminist before I even knew what the word meant. Fiercely independent and determined to defy all odds, I was arguing for women’s rights and equality without the proper tools until I came to Lewis & Clark. Sophomore year I signed up for a Gender Studies class with Professor Kim Brodkin to fulfill a general requirement, but found myself in her office two years later discussing graduate school options for Women’s Studies.

The minor put everything into place for me: it gave me the tools to better understand the world around me and all its frustrations, why I had fallen in love with the empowerment taught to me at Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls as a pre-teen, and why breaking the board with my own hands in Self Defense for Women was so satisfying. The unspoken truth of our society had been revealed.

In order to jerry-rig my own major, every paper for the next two years focused on equality and civil rights. Professor Daena Goldsmith even allowed me to help build the reading curriculum for the first year of RHMS 431 Feminist Discourse Analysis. My Rhetoric capstone paper “Riot Grrrl Revealed: The Limitations of Intersectionality” was featured at the 2015 Gender Studies symposium and ultimately taught me the most important lesson: as a cis-white woman I too need to be an ally.

After graduation I stumbled into the branded content realm of advertising in New York. Although it may not be directly related to the Gender Studies minor, I have found ways to incorporate it. In every piece we produce, I push for a diverse group of voices from varying backgrounds. The content we create should reflect reality, which is far more diverse than most media. I’m always learning from others and trying to be a better ally for each and every one of them, which as a podcast producer often means letting go of the mic. I want to bring my skill set and privilege to the table to help others and have difficult yet important conversations. I choose to use my knowledge to lift others up and help create a more welcoming world. While I do not know what the future will hold, I do know that my point of view will forever be improved thanks to the Gender Studies minor.