From Feminist to Activist


AmyAmy Quichiz

I remember reading A Room of One's Own, by Virgnia Woolf, over the summer for my AP English class requirements. I did not know what feminism was, or that there was even a word for the rage I felt in my heart when I learned about the oppression of women in the 1920s. That book made me feel so grateful for modern times, where I was able to write a journal entry or a newspaper article to the public without changing my name to Charlie or Robert. I was encouraged to know more, and went to Barnes and Nobles right after class to buy my first feminist book,  A Little F'd Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word, by Julie Zilinger. I fell in love. That was the moment I knew I was a feminist. But at the time I did not consider myself as an activist as I do now. 

I began my higher education at Syracuse University as a Forensic Science major. Science is so fascinating. Ever since I was six years old I was  sure of the fact I would be some type of doctor or medical examiner. I always knew I loved science, but it was not until a life-changing volunteering experience that I realized my true passion.

I volunteered in Chadwick Residence, which is an organization that provides apartments and survivor support for female victims of domestic violence. My task was to read in english to Roxanna, a non-native speaking Bangladeshi woman with a daughter of three years old. Her husband used to hit her and verbally abuse her by calling her "stupid" because she did not know english. The reason why she came to New York was because her daughter had a blood condition. Staying in Bangladesh would have meant her daughter wouldn't have been able to get the surgery she needed.

Roxanna was still in a relationship with her husband because she feared losing her daughter if she filed for divorce. What really surprised me was that Chadwick Residence did not give her adequate information about child support or how to file for a divorce. One day, as I was reading her a children's book, she grabbed my hand and started crying. That's the day I embraced my feminism.

Roxanna began telling me her story from the beginning in vivid detail. I remember crying with her, and wiping away her tears. After she told me everything, I prayed for her and promised that things would turn out to be okay. As soon as I left, I started looking up things on the internet. I searched for how to file for divorce in Syracuse, where to find a job, where to find an apartment. At first Roxanna did not want to file for divorce with because she was scared. After 5 months of tears she told me that I had given her the courage to file for divorce. She cried of happiness.

Everything fell into place after that; she found a job and an apartment. When it was my time to go, she hugged me and cried on my shoulders. I'll never forget her last words.  "Thank you Amy, you have saved me". That's when I knew I needed to study Women and Gender studies, because I wanted to make a difference in society and in people's lives.

I think this is what makes me a bad ass bitch. I'll go out of my way to help others and talk as loud as I want to. I feel like spreading the word of feminism is so important, and more teenagers need to know this. At Syracuse University, I try to be a part of many things on campus such as The Vagina Monologues, SASSE (a feminist club), and the Animal Rights Organizations. I think that just being passionate about anything makes anyone some kind of hero, and I consider myself Super Woman.


Your StoriesErin Bagwell