Foundational Knowledge: The topic of foundational knowledge is a questionable one...what and who's knowledge is in fact 'foundational?' Over recent years, and particularly those at DU, time was characterized by the erasure of those not falling within a (cis)gender or (hetero)sexual binary. This encouraged me to pursue exploring my trans and gay identities within my coursework to the best of my ability; I knew representation and vulnerability from the faculty would likely be limited. This often was validated when asking for resources from me or for conversations that were just privatization of asking a minoritized student to speak on behalf of an entire population for future classes/course sessions. I spent most of my time questioning what was being presented about me and people like me to the classroom and presented as inclusive excellence because I often found it to be foundational knowledge and I was seeking so much more than that in this program. One such example might be the centrality of restrooms in conversation around transgender students...while I am glad I can urinate in a toilet of my choice, I don't necessarily find it to be a point of pride for cisgender communities to rave about and praise as an accomplishment...but it dictated the entirety of trans-related conversations in every single academic space I occupied with the exception of Gender/Sexualities & Intersectional Inquiry
Application& Integration & Learning How To Learn: One of my interests in academia is that of methodology. In an effort to explore new knowledges gained from the higher education program, I focused on investigating methodologies that are perceived as radical in the field of higher education. In my Intersection Inquiry seminar, I had the opportunity to pursue poetic inquiry (above), as well as performance (see page on Art & Expression) as valid forms of knowledge, of learning, of knowing. The poem above attempts to question the rigidity of the show-and-tell requirement of our identities and work-- that is, we are free to explore so far as we do not disrupt, do not attempt to show individualization. To be more specific, we are encouraged to show only so much as we are willing to dillute ourselves to be read easily or in respect to a status quo or a typicality previously expressed. This also took the form of me questioning foundational knowledge within the classroom when presenting on gender and sexuality (see below, at right).
Human Dimension & Caring/Valuing: I found that the Higher Education program at University of Denver lacked a human dimension in that the ways we apply our experiences from the classroom to our assistantships or work were largely left to us as the students. For myself, I made attempts to create space for those of non-dominant sexual and gender identities at University of Denver through an annual drag show. This space was one of the few times each year I felt happy to exist at the institution-- times filled with open conversations around substance abuse and recovery, times filled with laughter and people saying, "I feel seen." Whether it was communication with peers across the program, understanding campus life...it felt there were absolutely no frameworks in place considering our experiences, our human dimension. Without affluency, the program was characterized by its isolation and misery. It was a common joke throughout the non-cohort of students in the higher education program that our experiences fueled by a lack of framework would "at least make for great experience once we left." I feel that a testament of the human dimension of every student in this program, was any creation of organization, sense of stability, or friendship accomplished. While immersed in courses I often felt invisible, unheard, or acknowledged on even the most superficial level...so I was keen to infuse what I could of my experiences into coursework, when it wasn't cumulatively exhausting merely to exist. When I was in a classroom that didn't exhaust me, it was great to learn. One of the best experiences within this program was in Race & Racism with Dr. Nelson. Learning about Indigenous peoples' experiences throughout history, specifically what forms of gender and sexuality existed prior to the still-existing erasure of Indigious lives and colonization. It is my hope that I will be able to continue to pursue knowledge related to this area in my future time in academia.