Western Kentucky University

Farrah Ferriell

A picture of Farrah Ferriell, an instructor of Gender & Women's Studies

Farrah Ferriell

I am part-time faculty for the Women’s Studies Program. Since 2002, I have taught Introduction to Women’s Studies and from 2003-2005 instructed for the Western Kentucky University Women’s Studies Program full time. I am a “Hill Brat” and practically grew up on The Hill since both of my parents worked at WKU for many years. My father is still employed at WKU and works with Aramark Food Services and he is approaching his 45th WKU Anniversary. I earned all three of my degrees from WKU including my B.A. in English, M.A. in Folk Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. In 2005 I was inspired to change my career path to non-profit administration and have since held positions at three different organizations serving women, men, youth and families seeking social and economic justice. My scholarly and non-profit work has largely concentrated on anti-gender based violence prevention, community education and professional development. I also have a special interest in economic equality and justice. I currently hold the position of Regional Director of Development at Volunteers of America of Kentucky, an organization that serves populations that would be homeless, addicted or neglected if we did not serve them. To learn more visit www.voaky.org.

I am dedicated to the disciplinary field of Women’s Studies and feminism because in my professional and personal experience it provides an inclusive and realistic perspective on how gender intertwines with race, socio-economic class, and sexuality identity shapes human lives as well as the social and political landscape of this very complicated world. Feminism has been the catalyst of social change throughout our history and has created equality and opportunities for women and men, individuals from all cultures and ethnicities and individuals from all walks of life. On a personal level, Women’s Studies is a great tool to use to evaluate one’s self and life, personal relationships and how one engages with others as well as their larger community. The Introduction to Women’s Studies course is the best way to explore feminism, social change, and how gender has shaped our personal lives, and I always look forward to introducing the topic to students each semester. Every semester is a meaningful journey for all who are brave enough to travel down that road.

I live in Louisville, KY with my husband and partner of six years and our 13-year-old cat. I am the only daughter and the oldest child of two amazing and hard working parents who both live in Bowling Green. For fun, I enjoy taking long walks, cooking delicious meals, reading novels that make me laugh, and I have a bit of a reality-television addiction (a total guilty-pleasure) with Teen Mom being a more recent show that has grabbed my attention.

[Earning my Women’s Studies degree]:

In 1996, I was introduced to feminism when I took Dr. Jane Olmsted’s Introduction to Women’s Studies course. I approached the class with curiosity and I have to admit a bit of fear. Like so many students who take this course even today, I grew up with the perspective that feminism was an organized group of angry women who demanded more in a society that had “given” them so much already—and I did not view it for what it really is—a historical and present day social movement for gender equality that deserves full credit for the fact that I first of all own myself ( and my father or husband do not own me), that I can vote, that I went to college, have health insurance, own a home, have the right to say “no” and for it be respected and so much more.

I have to credit Western Kentucky University’s Women’s Studies Program for helping me find my voice. When I first took Introduction to Women’s Studies I was a horribly shy young woman who always felt and observed the disparities in my life and others ‘and had not learned how to articulate my thoughts and concerns about existing social inequalities. I left the course with a more clear understanding about how feminism has contributed to women’s equality, why gender and other social inequalities still existed and discovered how I could personally contribute to feminism’s efforts.

This new found passion of feminism led me to taking more Women’s Studies courses, earning my Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies and finally teaching the WOMN 200. Today, I apply my experience and knowledge of feminism in non-profit administration. I am currently employed as the Regional Director of Development at Volunteers of America of Kentucky, an organization that serves 8,000 people in a four-state region. I help raise passion and funds for the organization that ultimately helps keep the doors open in all thirty-five programs we serve. I help create social justice and positive change everyday. We end help families with children end inter-generational homelessness whether they are single parent families, two-parent families or non-married partner families. Volunteers of America provides long-term residential care and treatment to men and women facing the challenges of substance abuse—and in the case of women, provide residential services to women who are mothers and their children may live with them. We provide 24-hour care and residential services in private home settings to older adults with developmental disabilities who would otherwise be institutionalized. Additionally, we are Kentucky’s largest care coordinator provider for individuals and families impacted by HIV and AIDS and are the state’s largest HIV and AIDS prevention program. To learn more, visit www.voaky.org.

I really owe my entire career to the field of feminism and women’s studies and all of the instructors who led me along the way.

 Last Modified 7/19/13