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BA in Women and Gender Studies
Lucienne Nicholson’s exuberant personality precedes her wherever she goes, reaching out to greet you like a hand extended for shaking. She is passionate about her education and about helping others, making her a dynamic presence in class discussions and around campus. When she received her bachelor’s degree this May, it was with no shortage of experience or inspiration.
In fact, Lucienne so thoroughly epitomizes the opportunities found in a liberal arts education that she was selected to speak on behalf of the student body at the Liberal Arts Building ribbon-cutting ceremony in fall 2014. “Using my personal academic experiences,” she said in her speech, “I confirm that a liberal arts education is the common ground where all women and men meet; where we compare values and influence thoughts.”
She also described a liberal arts education as advantageous career preparation, teaching students “to think in encompassing ways, to apply creative solutions, and to render a succinct and convincing conclusion to the challenges they are sure to face in the marketplace.”
Lucienne has taken the concept of professional preparation to heart, diving into engaged learning experiences with enthusiasm. She was a student intern and contributing writer with the Office of Community Development, served on the Women and Gender Studies Advisory Board, contributed to the goals and vision of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and served as founder and president of the Adult Lifelong Learner Organization. She belongs to three honor societies, Delta Epsilon Iota, Tau Sigma, and the Women and Gender Studies honor society, Triota. Practicing her motto, “Giving back more to learn more,” Lucienne organized a talk and panel discussion on Title IX in April 2015, and in May she presented to MetroCenter students about the inextricable relationship between empowerment of the college student and their contributions through service to the college.
Under the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, program director of women and gender studies, Lucienne has engaged in extensive research on the intersectionality of class, race, gender, and nationality, which too often bring about prejudices and limit opportunities for members of certain groups. Her own experiences with socially constructed prejudices continue to inform her commitment to social and political justice and to making America a stronger competitor in a global market. She has presented her research at conferences in Niagara Falls and Puerto Rico, at the University of Maryland, and at Brockport’s Scholars Day and Diversity Conference events. Her most recent scholarly research, Pink Transgressions, was published in the Women and Gender Studies Program’s e-journal, Dissenting Voices, available on Brockport’s Digital Commons.
In recognition of her many accomplishments, Lucienne was honored with the 2014 Outstanding McNair Scholar Award and the 2014 Women and Gender Studies Harriet Whitney Outstanding Student Award. She also received a 2015 Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), nominated by the Greater Rochester Area Branch and recognized at the AAUW State Convention. She received the same award as an intern in 2012. This award is presented to AAUW members who demonstrate leadership potential through their enthusiasm, creative ideas, and commitment to AAUW’s mission. Lucienne worked as a student intern at the AAUW Rochester branch, participated in their leadership development workshops, was a significant contributor to the planning and organizing of the International Women’s Day community event for two consecutive years, and currently serves as Education Opportunity Fund (EOF) director for AAUW’s New York State board. In addition, she established an AAUW student organization here at the College.
A naturalized American, Lucienne was born in Haiti to a large family and spoke two other languages, Haitian Creole and French, prior to immigrating to New York City. When she arrived in America, she was confronted by the challenges of a third language, but her prior knowledge of a liberal education — which included studies in French, Latin, Spanish, African and European culture, philosophy, Haitian and European literature, geography, and history — served as a bridge to help her overcome the temporary language barrier and identify with her new home. That educational background was the glue that linked her acquisition of English to the transition into the American education system and the American school of thought.
These experiences have contributed to Lucienne’s palpable, sincere compassion; she draws upon her own experiences to better understand those of others, and she focuses her talents and ambition toward inspiring others to overcome adversity.
“A liberal arts education means that all at once my intellectual capacity is flexible, transitional, and fixed,” Lucienne said in her ribbon-cutting speech. “Flexible to meld with continued intellectual and professional demands over time. Transitional in that, in this global economy, my education will help me to integrate with ease when a corporation or institution seeks the sensitivity required to navigate a new market in a foreign country, for example. Lastly, it is not at all contradictive to say that my liberal education is also fixed as its very development predates the modern world, and that perpetuity is a reminder of the relevance of its contents that are always complementary to all other evolving areas of academic and professional knowledge.”
What’s next? Lucienne is inspired by Einstein’s statement that “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” A fearless visionary, Lucienne is looking to break molds and create paradigm shifts. She is considering two areas for her graduate studies: comparative higher education for nontraditional adult students in the global south or labor studies to promote wage justice for the working class and the poor in America. Either area would allow her to further explore her commitment to creating a safe and inclusive community for all.