Dr. Peter Butera, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Carrie Glenn, assistant professor of history and director of the women’s studies program, with research award winners Yean Choi and Narges Kazemi.

Niagara University’s women’s studies program honored three students for their work examining women, gender, or feminist issues at its annual awards ceremony on March 19, 2024. Established in 2004, the award contest, which typically honors research papers, was enhanced this year with the addition of a creative entities contest.

“We understand that the production and communication of knowledge comes in many forms,” said Dr. Carrie Glenn, assistant professor of history and director of the women’s studies program. “To honor that, the WMS committee created a new contest that celebrates original research in any medium other than writing."

Narges Kazemi, a junior computer and information science major, won the inaugural Creative Entities Award for her storybook on women’s experiences of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that combined historical research with personal experience.

“The storybook’s vibrant colors and gorgeous artistry tell a story about the effects of these wars on women,” Glenn said. “In particular, she highlights the disconnect between what the U.S. promised Afghan women and the reality of these women’s experiences during the war and afterward when the United States pulled out of Afghanistan. She brings particular attention to girls’ education, a topic I know she feels passionately about. She concludes her storybook by reminding us of those broken promises and the work that remains to be done for Iraqi and Afghan women and girls.”

Winning the top prize in the upper-level writing contest was Callie Fritz, a senior English education major. Fritz’s paper, “No Longer a Victim, A Survivor,” explored the position of the female body in the post-colonial worlds of the novels “Nervous Conditions” and “Breath, Eyes, Memory.” Although Fritz found that the women in these texts were doubly colonized and oppressed due to patriarchal hierarchies that limited who they could marry and what they could do with their bodies, they were able to weaponize their bodies to transform them into tools they used to resist patriarchy and colonization.

First-place winner in the freshman writing contest was psychology major Yean Choi for her paper, “An Analysis of the Works of Artist Yayoi Kusama from a Feminist Perspective,” which she wrote for her Women in Art course.

“In discussing some of the key works by Kusama, Yean was able to not only descriptively make these works come alive for the reader, but also articulate the motivations behind these works, demonstrating how they reflect the circumstances of Kusama’s own life and fit within the interesting aspects of her trailblazing artmaking process,” said Dr. Jessica DiPalma, faculty fellow in museum studies.

Dr. Peter Butera, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted, “Our contest winners go on to be strong leaders in their communities, pushing for positive change in ways identified while they’re still pursuing their degrees at Niagara University. They take the Vincentian mission of service and care and stewardship about their world with them as they navigate their next adventures."