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Andrew Asquith '16 Interview

Interviewer: Aida Kalkan

Andrew Asquith

On April 13, 2018, I interviewed Andrew Asquith '16 - a trans masculine-identified person currently living in Boston, MA. Andrew is a Syracuse University alum who seeks to promote activism and feminism in his everyday life. The Women’s and Gender Studies Department helped him discover his identity and empowered him to share it with his tight-knit community of peers and professors. His background in WGS has helped him push back against the status quo. At his job at Fenway, Andrew’s work consists of efforts to address racial justice and equity in healthcare, dismantling white, cisgender, heterosexual, and patriarchal structures in healthcare, and working to make HIV prevention more accessible for LGBTQ people. His work focuses on HIV incidence and health outcomes for transgender communities. One of the research studies Andrew works on is looking at how gender-affirming healthcare affects HIV outcomes and mental health outcomes. I interviewed Andrew because I wanted to gain an insight to the “day in the life” of a WGS alum. We should not overlook the power of a WGS degree and this is further explained by the questions I asked Andrew during our interview which were as following:

How has Syracuse University better prepared you for the real world? Are there courses that you feel have influenced your career choices more than others? If so, please explain.

All of the core classes I took influenced me. WGS 310 Feminist Inquiries - my research methodology class - was very influential because it stresses the importance of reflection and ethical, community-based research. Working in the research field now, the material I learned is very applicable. Also, SU is not a perfect campus but you can make what you want of it. Being on such a big campus provides more opportunities such as the courses you can take, clubs you can join, and people you can meet and interact with. The LGBT center on campus and the WGS department helped me feel comfortable exploring and expressing myself. A prime example is when I changed my name to Andrew. The professors in my WGS classes were super affirming of my decision, and no one treated me differently.

What advice would you give to students, specifically those majoring or thinking about majoring in Women Gender Studies, that would better help them prepare for the “real world”? And, how can they better prepare?

Don’t be afraid to major in something that has a “negative reputation.” WGS prepares you for the real world just as well as any other liberal arts degree. There is a lot of stigma about surrounding WGS, but remembering that you are getting a well-rounded degree that will give you applicable job skills is very important. Don’t be too intimidated by the people who say that a WGS is not a real degree, because it is and if you truly have a passion for it, you will be successful.

Also, I would advise students to stay true to themselves and remembering why they’re in school and studying WGS. Yes, our culture is shifting and there are fewer job openings for the number of folks applying. I would advise  students to find relevant and interesting internships, volunteer opportunities, and draft a strong cover letter. A strong cover letter will help you highlight what you can bring to the role. Further, I would recommend being upfront about your unique identities if you feel comfortable doing so in a cover letter. Being different and having unique perspectives and life experiences is what employers look for. Capitalize your individuality and also start your application process early. Doing self-care and reminding yourself that you are worth it and that your skills are worth it is also very important in all of the aforementioned. You will eventually find the right fit but take every opportunity as a learning guide. Even if you do not land a job in your first interview, consider it good practice. You can always improve. A great tip would be to later ask the interviewers for feedback on why they might not have hired you. Who knows, that might just break the barrier to getting the next job offering.

 If you could go back in time to your undergraduate career, what would you tell your old self, and why? Would you change anything?

I would tell myself to be more adventurous in the electives I take at Syracuse University. There are some gaps in my knowledge, and I believe it would have been beneficial to take more math and science courses to round out my skillset for future employment. I would also tell myself to be less afraid of trying something new. If that means joining the LGBT center on campus, go for it! There are a lot of possibilities!

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