Whitney Tchoula, GWS Minor
My name is Whitney Tchoula—When I began at WKU, I felt alone and out of place, and I even considered dropping out. That all changed after I entered Dr. Kristi Branham’s GWS 200 classroom. Thanks to Dr. B, and all of the wonderful faculty and staff, I found my home in the Gender and Women’s Studies department; I made lifelong friends and mentors, had my world view expanded, learned how to dedicate myself to academics, and perhaps most importantly, as Dr. Branham likes to say, I discovered my “mission”.
Following the completion of my undergraduate studies in 2014, I accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham to pursue an M.S. in criminal justice. During my time at UAB, I assisted on a visual ethnographic study of rural methamphetamine use and I conducted my own ethnography exploring rural synthetic marijuana use. I have been fortunate to present my findings at many regional and national conferences, and have my work published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Criminal Justice Review, and the Encyclopedia of Research Methods and Statistical Techniques in Criminology and Criminal Justice. On August 12th I will graduate, Magna Cum Laude, and relocate to Newark, New Jersey to pursue a PhD in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. Following my studies, I hope to fulfill my mission and become a professor in a vibrant campus community. My aim is to inspire students like Dr. Branham inspired me, and to continue to research criminological phenomena using feminist and visual methodology.
As cliché as it is, none of this would have been possible without WKU’s GWS program—it truly changed my life and the lessons I learned inside and outside of the classroom continue to motivate me to this day.