Bridget Gibley

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Bridget Gibley graduated from Aquinas in Spring 2020 with a major in English Literature and minors in Spanish, Irish Studies, and Women’s Studies. Although Gibley’s graduation was not what she expected, given the Covid-19 pandemic, she has been surprised with what life has given her since graduation.

In Fall 2020, Bridget began graduate study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Coordinated Master’s Degree Program for Women’s and Gender Studies and Library and Information Science, with an expected completion date of 2023. She received the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant for an Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies course. Though all of her classes are online due to COVID, she has loved getting to explore a new city and school during her free time. She clearly has a very full plate and is a very motivated and passionate woman! 

With her Master’s in hand, Bridget’s goal is to become a librarian -- ideally, as she says, in youth services in a public library, “promoting representation and inclusivity in programming for children so they have a safe, welcoming space to develop and grow.” Her introductory classes at UW have addressed the changes libraries have been making to become more inclusive, raising questions such as: Who is left out when you need documentation to get a library card? What happens when different groups see uniformed security guards? Bridget finds these questions essential to ensuring that libraries become accessible to all. 

When reflecting on her time at Aquinas, especially her involvement with Women’s Studies, Bridget has a ton to say! To current and future Women’s Studies Minors, she says that you should get to know the WS faculty and staff. Not only do you learn a lot from the courses offered in the program, but also from the events that the Center hosts and the conversations that can be had with the faculty and staff talking about feminist issues and current events. Bridget particularly remembers adjunct professor and alumna Cheyna Roth, who is profiled here. Bridget was able to take Roth’s special topics class on Women, the Law, and the Courts, and she appreciated the way that the class would discuss barriers to progress for women. As Bridget recalls, Roth would ask the class what they could do about the barriers, but wouldn’t let them say, “just burn it down and start over.” Instead, Roth got them to think about what they can do to push for progress even when a revolution isn’t likely or possible. 

Bridget also wants to welcome new Minors to the Women’s Studies Center! As a WS intern during her time at Aquinas, she looks back on how fun it was to have other Minors come into the Center, just to hang out and chat in the very cozy space. 

When asked about her favorite memory from being a Women’s Studies Minor, Bridget finds it very hard to choose, but she recalls two in particular: Her first is from her first semester, right after the 2016 presidential election, when she was added to different email threads from WS students, faculty, and staff, who were all asking how they could give their support. Ultimately, they had an impromptu potluck dinner. Bridget says, “I was a freshman and didn’t really know a lot of people at that point, so going to Michelle DeRose’s house and having soup and warm conversation, especially in that week, was very significant for me” and was one of the main reasons that she ultimately declared her minor. 

Her other favorite memory is from the fall of her senior year when Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was published. The Women’s Studies Center and the English Department co-hosted an event where they had a day-long reading marathon of The Testaments in Donnelly Center. Everyone showed up early, got their books, and took turns reading late into the night to finish the book. She says: “I worked at the Women’s Studies Center and was an English Literature major, so this event included basically all of my favorite people on campus!” 

In response to the question, “If you could wave your activist magic wand and address a feminist issue in our society, what would it be and why?” Bridget also finds this to be an impossible question, but she feels that if every WS grad answers this question, they can all divide and conquer to address all of the issues. For Bridget’s answer, she believes that “the way our current capitalistic society functions is the root of a lot of feminist issues.” As she explains, capitalism overlaps with racism and sexism, such that people and their value are linked to what they can produce, a dynamic that marginalizes many groups in our society. Bridget feels that this dynamic has been even more pronounced during the pandemic. 

Lastly, Bridget’s book recommendations for us! Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid are two that stand out to her when thinking about this question. 

We miss Bridget in the Women’s Studies Center and wish her well in her graduate study!