Alexandra Hollifield graduated from Wake Forest University in 2013 with double majors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Political Science. She received the WGS department’s Senior Leadership Award in 2013.
What has been your career path since graduating?
After graduating from Wake Forest, I went on to get my Master’s degree in Community Development and Action at Vanderbilt University. I worked for a year during grad school as a part-time Graduate Assistant at the Vanderbilt Women’s Center, then became a full-time Program Coordinator in fall 2014. I spent the next two years facilitating workshops, roundtable discussions, and programming around topics including body image and disordered eating, sexuality education and healthy relationships, and perfectionism and mental health. My biggest professional accomplishment during my time at Vanderbilt was launching an initiative called the Vanderbilt [IM]Perfection Project, which aims to create a campus culture where students can celebrate their successes and their failures and seeks to bring awareness of failure and setbacks as a healthy part of every student’s college experience. The launch of the project in Spring 2016 included bringing Dr. Brené Brown to speak at Vanderbilt and collaboratively organizing a student “speak-out” panel, where several Vanderbilt students stood in front of over 200 of their peers and told their stories of failure and imperfection. This initiative was largely inspired by my experiences at Wake Forest, where there is also a culture of effortless perfection–particularly for young women.I recently left my role at Vanderbilt to start a new adventure as the statewide Prevention Coordinator for the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. I believe that comprehensive primary prevention efforts–including healthy sexuality and healthy relationships, bystander intervention, and healthy masculinity programming–are the key to ending sexual violence. I am thrilled about this new chapter and am excited to continue feminist social justice work in Kentucky!
How has your training in WGS influenced your career?
I truly would not be where I am today without Women’s and Gender Studies at Wake Forest. Academically, all of the writing that I did in my WGS classes prepared me incredibly well for graduate-level coursework. Having constant discussions around intersectionality with my fellow WGS classmates and professors prepared me for my role at Vanderbilt as well as my current position. I constantly strive to be aware of my own identities and privilege and to make my work as inclusive as possible. The theoretical framework that I learned in classes such as The Politics of Women’s Bodies helped me easily transition from theory to practice in facilitating programs on body image, eating disorders, and sexuality. Finally, WGS provided me with several opportunities to present on papers and research at various conferences during my time at Wake Forest and these experiences helped prepare me for public speaking, presenting, and facilitating. A huge shout-out to Dr. Mary DeShazer for being the most incredible and inspiring professor, mentor, and friend I had during my time at Wake. I will forever be grateful.