As a former AmeriCorps Vista service member running a university food pantry and community garden, I became intimately aware of the prevalence of food insecurity, hunger, and poverty in the lives of college students. With students of color, non-traditional students, student parents, and first-generation students most often impacted by food insecurity, the problem is often overlooked if not invisible to administrators. Now, as a critical-feminist teacher-scholar, I believe faculty have the responsibility to be activists working to combat systematic injustice in their classrooms, campuses, and research trajectories. My investment in social-justice oriented curriculum development, community-based research, and service is grounded in attention to privilege, empowerment through language, and a fundamental belief in community action.
I have designed and delivered two separate social justice themed first-year writing curriculums at two institutions, highlighting the way language both contributes and responds to inequality. In these courses I encouraged students to think creatively and empathetically about race, class, and gender through the composition of both alphabetic and multi-modal assignments, participation in an anonymous “privilege walk” activity, and conducting a rhetorical analysis of either Presidential or VP debates and RNC or DNC speeches. By incorporating a diverse, inclusive reading list featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Roxane Gay, etc., I encouraged my students to challenge their thinking in response to the divisive political climate. Encouraging invitational rhetoric, I developed well-regulated classroom communities, where students were free to expand their understanding of language through highly relevant conversations about privilege, and private low-stakes writing assignments, while honoring the challenges of doing so by adopting a compassionate, student-centered approach. My students consistently respond positively to these efforts, one sharing in their evaluations, “The strength of the course was the idea that everyone had a voice and was able to freely write/talk about what they wanted to pertaining to these controversial topics. Throughout the course, Ms. Ziegler supported her students and helped us strive to be the best writers we could.”
In my dissertation, I dissect the cultural rhetoric of consent and rape and the impact both have on how female survivors of sexual violence respond to and name their experiences. By blending evocative autoethnographic writing centered on my own experiences with sexual and relational violence, and community-based qualitative research emphasizing survivor narratives, my work directly responds to the gender-based power imbalances that impact real women every day. The goal of this research is to form a better understanding of how and where sexual violence occurs and what steps can be taken to combat it, while centering embodied lived experiences as sites of knowledge creation. I am committed to continuing with this work throughout my career, increasing the intersectional scope of this research to include members of the LGBTQ+ community, and offer more intentional focus on the experiences of women of color.
My energy for social justice culminates in my continued commitment to civic, community, and literary engagement. I have served on a number of committees, including the BGSU Common Read Selection committee, where I advocated for the 2019 selection of What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha, a memoir about the Flint water crisis. I acted as a facilitator at the BGSU Community Dinner and Dialogue Series event, which invited members of the local community to engage in civil conversation about the opioid epidemic. Through the BGSU English Department, I initiated the first ever Community Writing Project, which aimed at highlighting the diverse experiences of community members from the region in the composition of anonymous six-word memoirs. During 2018 and 2019 I hosted National Poetry Month readings in the community, sponsored by the BGSU Women’s Center and in 2020 organized, promoted, and hosted a Black History Month literary reading within the community.
As a future faculty member, I am committed to becoming an active member of the campus community where I teach. I am invested in the service learning educational model that highlights social justice, and engaging in departmental and university service that furthers activist efforts on campus and beyond. With a particular interest in community-based writing, I hope to work alongside colleagues to expand the reach of writing programming and access to literary arts. Furthermore, I am motivated to continue learning and growing my allyship, both on and off campus, to help promote progress as broadly as possible throughout my career.