American Studies Alum Researches Experiences of Transgender Parents in PhD Dissertation

Selfie of alum.

Mikaela Feroli, RWU Class of 2014

Major:  Cultural Studies
Minors:  History + Modern Languages

Mikaela Feroli majored in American Studies and was involved in several organizations on campus, including the Women's Rugby team and the GSA, now the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. These experiences, both academic and extracurricular, helped Feroli gain lifelong skills. Now Feroli is earning their PhD in Gender and Women's Studies, focusing on the experiences of parents who are transgender. Check out the interview below to learn more about Feroli's path and plans for the future. 

What have you been up to since graduation?

After graduation, I moved to London, England and obtained my Master of Science (MSc) in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics. After my masters, I worked for six months in the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons College. In September of 2016, I started my PhD in Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Kentucky. I'm currently working on my dissertation that focuses on the narratives and experiences of parents who are transgender. My goals for the future are to continue my work with transgender parents and work at a teaching focused school to engage in social justice work from the ground up. 

What do you enjoy about your research?

I enjoy talking to people and working together to create a more just world through validating and acknowledging people's social locations. My research with transgender parents highlights the multitude of ways that many trans people are tirelessly working towards new forms of existing in the world that don't necessarily rely on preexisting models of what it is we assume a parent to look and act like. 

How did you determine what you wanted to do next?

Learning more intimately and critically about the injustices in the world through American Studies and History courses propelled me to want to continue learning and educate others. I determined what I wanted to do next because of various mentors I had at RWU. I knew I enjoyed learning and teaching people and my mentors encouraged me to attend graduate school. 

What skills did you gain at RWU that you find yourself applying to your work now?

Skills that I gained from RWU that I apply to my work now include critical thinking, communication, project management, and reliability. 

What is a favorite memory from your time at RWU?

One of my favorite memories from my time at RWU is when the Women's Rugby Team won the NSCRO National Championship in 2014. 

What did you gain from being on the Women's Rugby team and participating in other organizations?

On the women's rugby team I learned the importance of dedication, resilience, and collaboration. I also was a part of and participated in activities put on by the Women's Center, the GSA, and Phi Alpha Theta. Being a part of a diversity of organizations were critical in building a strong network of individuals who helped me think through different perspectives and grow as an individual for both my academic and professional careers.