Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
“I believe in the students who come here. I truly feel our students are hard working, dedicated, incredible individuals, and I don’t see myself anywhere else. I am honored to step into the classroom each day. I also share the halls with brilliant, talented, warm hearted, supportive colleagues,” said Keri Graham, a Saint Martin’s University Gender and Identity Studies instructor and advisor.
The Gender and Identity Studies program at Saint Martin’s was introduced in 2002 under the name Women’s Studies Program.
“It was started by a group of faculty including Olivia Archibald, Ph.D., Jeanette Munn, Ph.D., and Rex Casillas, Ph.D… the Women’s Studies program then changed into the Gender and Identity Studies program in 2016,” explained Graham.
Originally, Graham worked with Diana Falco, Ph.D., the director of the program, to accomplish much needed changes and highlight current pedagogy in the field.
Regarding the current state of the program, Graham said, “I am excited by the growth of the program. We continue to grow in students who have declared the minor and courses offered. It is really an exciting time for the program and I am thankful to the faculty members who worked really hard to create the minor.”
In addition to her status as a beloved faculty member and full-time mother, Graham’s academic career started at Saint Martin’s University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree. From Saint Martin’s, she moved to the University of North Carolina, located in Greensboro, to complete her Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender studies in 2010. However, before graduating with her master’s, she returned to her alma mater in 2009 to complete an internship in curriculum development and women’s studies pedagogy. After finishing the internship and completing her graduate degree, she returned to Saint Martin’s once more, and has held positions ranging from grant-funded researcher to full-time instructor.
According to Graham, people continually ask what made her return to Saint Martin’s for her master’s internship and why she made the decision to continue teaching at the institution. In response, Graham said, “I am not sure I intended to stay originally because it was only a one year grant funded position and I really didn’t know where else to go, but this place is home to me.”
While Graham’s passion and current focuses include Women’s Studies and the Gender and Identity program, she has also taught some history courses at Saint Martin’s, including History of Sexuality, and History of American Women.
When asked what her favorite class to teach is, Graham replied, “I feel like each semester I have a new favorite, but I really love teaching queer theory because it is my specialty, but history of sexuality is a close second. Students seem to be in the class because they want to be and willing to do the hard work.”
Although she is not currently a part of the history department, she hopes to once again teach both History of Sexuality, and History of American Women in the future. Graham’s other passions and research focuses include: gender and popular culture; women, culture and society; queer theory; feminist methodology; transnational feminists; nationalist struggles and gender; Riot Grrrls and 90s activism; and queer feminism.
Graham’s work in queer theory has been recognized by others in her field, and even earned her the Dr. Charlotte Robert’s Women in Leadership Grant.
When asked how she enjoys spending her free time when not teaching, Graham said, “I have two kids, so spare time usually consists of hanging out with them; which is great. I enjoy watching them grow up and develop their own personalities. I also enjoy traveling.”
In addition, she tries to be supportive of clubs and activities on campus, and often attends athletic games and fundraisers with her children.
Her current research is focused on biographing various suffragists for the online biography of the woman suffrage movement in the United States.
“These biographical sketches will place women’s suffrage activism within the frame of the broader social agenda both before and after the passage of the 19th Amendment,” said in reference to Graham’s work.
Graham commented on her participation in the research project by highlighting Saint Martin’s students.
“The best part of this project is that Saint Martin’s students have been writing the biographical sketches as well. So, if any more students are interested in writing or editing – I have a few more names who need to be researched.”
If any students are interested in helping Graham with research, writing, editing, or would like additional information on the topic, the web address for the site in which the information is being compiled is: https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN.