Bryce Diggs has been abroad in Stockholm, Sweden with a host family this semester in order to take classes for their major.
Diggs is a junior at Castleton double majoring in psychology and women and gender studies. They are currently the only member of a department that due to financial cuts will no longer exist, though Diggs says it will still be an option as a minor or a concentration for some of the social science majors.
“The program has been running for about five years now and no one has joined, so the state decided to cut it,” they said. “I was told by my advisor, Linda Olson that the major was being discontinued basically due to lack of interest from the student body.”
Diggs said they remained in the program partly to be the only person to graduate from Castleton with this degree, but also because it is a passion.
“I wanted to be a nurse, but I hate blood. So, I chose psychology so I could still help people, but I felt like it wasn’t specific enough,” Diggs explained. “I wanted to focus on minorities and under-represented identities, so I began taking women and gender studies classes. I started learning about race, gender, and sexuality and I really liked it, so I stuck with it,” they said.
The decision to study in Sweden has transformed Diggs’ experience in the program. Diggs said Sweden is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to gender equality.
“In Sweden, I’ve been able to take all women and gender studies classes. I am taking four classes very specifically about gender and sexuality, none of which were offered at Castleton,” Diggs said.
The difference in the professors abroad has impacted the experience as well. Diggs said having professors from different countries while studying in Sweden has given them a more worldly view of the subject.
“At the university I attend here, all my professors are from different parts of the world – Norway and Sweden and Russia. So, I get the Swedish perspective, but also different views from around the world. In the U.S., we are very U.S. oriented. We don’t really look at other countries, as opposed to here, it’s a more global perspective,” they said.
Despite the lack of enrollment and offerings in the program at Castleton being discouraging at times, Diggs said their friends supported them.
“It’s not a well-known degree on campus, so we don’t have any professors specifically in the Women and Gender Studies department. There’s one professor, but she is also in the sociology department. It was my friends who told me to keep going even when none of my classes were being offered that semester,” Diggs recalled.
Diggs wants to pass that hope along and encourage other students who aren’t being offered as many classes in their subject of interest or feel discouraged like they did at times.
“Just keep pushing and you’ll make it through. It will be worth it in the end,” they concluded.