A women’s studies minor is for everyone

By Katie Hirv ’22, Kayla Marthaler ’21, and Madison Freeland ’21

Kendall Erenberger ’21 was just looking for an extra class to fill an empty spot in her schedule when she signed up for Gender and Sexuality her sophomore year. What she found was an entire subject matter that was not only interesting but extremely relevant to her future career in communications.

“Dr. Penni Pier, my adviser, recommended I take the Gender and Sexuality class that’s in the communications department because it filled one of my public relations credits. She also thought I’d really enjoy it,” said Erenberger, who just graduated with a degree in journalism and communication. “Then I needed another class, and she recommended Intro to Women’s Studies, and I took that.”

Those two classes led to a women’s studies minor and a new passion.

“I think Gender and Sexuality really showed me how I could apply it (the minor) to my major,” Erenberger said. “As a future communications professional, I thought it would be very important for me to learn how to recognize and then help fight against stereotypes and make sure people are accurately represented.”

Learning about different social issues within today’s society has helped Erenberger recognize the importance of empathy within the public relations field.

“My goal is to work in communications, possibly for a corporation, helping with brand management, communications, things like that. I think being able to reach a wider audience and being able to empathize with people is super important, no matter what field you’re in,” Erenberger said.

Kendall Erenberger

Both inside and outside the classroom, pursuing a women’s studies minor has shown Erenberger the power of good listening and active learning.

“It has made me more aware of certain social issues and being able to recognize them, not just with women, but in the LGBTQ community, people of color, especially with recent events. I have become more aware of myself and wanting to relate to the people who are being affected. I think it has really helped open my eyes to how people view things and being able to listen,” Erenberger said. “A women’s studies minor could be for everyone, not just for women. It does touch on a lot of social issues and demographics that people are always aware of. All these different things connect us and connect in different ways. Learning that helps you become a better person and a better listener.”

Reflecting on her time at Wartburg, Erenberger remembers when she first learned about Wartburg.

“My mom is actually an alum, so she was very adamant about me visiting Wartburg. It was very different from other places I looked at. The professors took the time to actually show me equipment, and when I came back on the Journalism & Communication Visit Day, they remembered my name and who I was, which was really cool,” Erenberger said.

Wartburg has always held a special place in Erenberger’s family, especially the memories associated with homecoming.

“When I was little, we’d always come up for homecoming. Seeing my mom see her old classmates … that’s going to be me in 10 years, probably. Sophomore year, she stayed the night in my dorm room for homecoming. It was a fun thing for us to do.”