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2023 GWS and Social Justice Awardees

2023 Graduate Student Prize Winner: Sangeetha “Ilā” Ravichandran Heading link

Award winner Sangeetha

Sangeetha “Ilā” Ravichandran is a PhD candidate in Sociology, with a concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies, whose scholarship is “rooted in radical and interdisciplinary traditions of intersectional feminisms and an abolitionist feminist political praxis.” Based on four years of ethnographic field work, in-depth interviews, archival work, and mixed method analysis, Ilā’s dissertation “draws out the landscape of genomically based carcerality in which human DNA becomes a permanent and racialized tool to expand the state’s reach into Black and brown communities of color, in perpetuity, through a Black feminist and queer of color lens.” In line with feminist notions of data justice, Ilā is developing multiple outlets to share her research with multiple audiences. In addition to creating a digital archive of her data that will be available to left-leaning journalists and social movements, Ilā is working on the Free Them All Seed Quilt, a community engaged public art piece that is a response to her research findings and will be installed outside the women’s prison in Illinois.

2023 Undergraduate Student Prize Winner: Susan Cisneros Heading link

Multi-colored t-shirts from the Clothesline Project hang on a clothesline between two trees. In the foreground is a bunch of white, yellow, and purple flowers.

Susan Cisneros is a GWS major, with minors in Black Studies and Disability and Human Development. She worked with UIC’s Campus Advocacy Network (CAN) on this year’s Clothesline Project, an interactive exhibit featuring messages of resilience, healing, and hope for individuals and communities impacted by interpersonal violence and abuse. She also tutors and mentors students with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. Susan describes connecting with GWS as “a journey that teaches you many things such as grieving, healing, creating community and loving.”

2023 Mary B. Bialas Prize Winner: Rachael Wachera Wanjagua Heading link

A cream colored beige tote bag with a screen printed image in shades of deep pink and purple that reads Building Towards Feminist Futures and depicts protest images on the left and garden images of the right. On the left side of the photograph is a bunch of purple mums.

Rachael Wachera Wanjagua is a PhD candidate in Disability Studies who was trained as a physiotherapist in Kenya and South Africa. Since 2006, Rachael has worked in rural communities of Kenya, providing the only available and much needed physiotherapy services to children, conducting trainings for mothers to understand disability, and developing holistic community care networks to support families of children with disabilities. This award will support Rachael’s ongoing transformative work, specifically research in Kenya, where Rachael is “training two people with intellectual disabilities to conduct research on their support needs and those of their caregivers.”

2023 Completion Award Winner: Josephine Chaet Heading link

The GWS End of Year Celebration of Students program booklet lays atop bunches of purple, white, and yellow mums. The program booklet has shades of pink and purples for the background, with white text on the cover.

Josephine Chaet is a PhD candidate in Anthropology, with a concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies, whose “research and teaching bring together approaches from socio-cultural anthropology and critical feminist studies to bear on the study of politics, gender, and relationality, with a focus on contemporary Jordan.” Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Amman, her dissertation, “Critical Liaisons: The Politics of Women’s Organizing in Jordan,” analyzes “the (in)visible and intimate ways the women of non-governmental organizations make use of their relationships to further political goals, and how those actors carve out semi-independent domains of practice by negotiating existing structures of governmental management and through legislative transformation.” Josephine uniquely contributes “a feminist political analysis at multiple relational scales to push a recognition of women’s sociality as a distinct category structuring contemporary political reality.” This award will support Josephine in concluding her dissertation writing and subsequent dissertation defense in the 2023-2024 academic year.