Renee Pedersen, English Major, Wins 2003 Student Outstanding Woman of New Hampshire Award
"Raising consciousness in the classroom is the beginning of encouraging a relationship between college students and those who live in neighboring communities. But it's not enough to say this will create a change or breach the distance that seems to limit interactions between these two communities."
These are the words of Renee Pedersen, winner of the 2003 student Outstanding Woman of New Hampshire Award, presented by KSC President Stanley Yarosewick at the annual Women's History Month Program in March.
Renee, a senior English major with a minor in Women's Studies, is a Dean's List student, belongs to the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, and led a panel discussion at this year's Academic Excellence Conference.
Not for her the ivory tower, though. Renee takes feminist theory to the streets, connecting scholarship with service to the community. Women without socioeconomic advantages especially concern her.
"I want to widen the archway between Keene State College and the community," says Renee, "allowing mothers and children in the community and college students to get to know each other."
Renee is a leader of Step by Step Career Guidance, a job readiness program of the New Hampshire Division of Family Assistance, which gives individuals on public assistance the resources they need to obtain full-time employment. She's focused her efforts on single mothers, starting a free child care service called Baby-Sitter's Corner that gives these women some time to seek better educational and job opportunities. She staffs this service with student volunteers from Keene State.
One of her goals as a feminist, says Renee, is "to pursue a career in human services, working to better the living conditions of women and children. My purpose as a volunteer is to find resources for the women in the program and figure out the best way to make these resources available to them."
On campus, Renee is the record keeper for the Feminist Collective and has helped students become registered voters, educated them about issues, arranged rides to the polls when needed, and persuaded several students to vote for the first time. She volunteered at the KSC and Keene headquarters of former governor Jean Shaheen's senatorial campaign.