Profile: Dr. Rebecca Ruhlen

Davidson professor, Dr. Rebecca Ruhlen, has come a long way from her rural Kansas roots. She has visited, lived, and researched in several Asian countries and now has found her niche in motherhood and breastfeeding. She and her husband, Dr. Fuji Lozada, are the power couple of the Anthropology department here at Davidson. With complex and intriguing experiences, Ruhlen is a wise and interesting professor to delve into a conversation with. 

Receiving her master's at Harvard, then later her doctorate at the University of Washington, Ruhlen has an impressive resume. She used her studies to propel herself into a childhood interest that sparked her anthropologist career: East Asia. As a child, Ruhlen was intrigued by Japanese culture and desperately wanted to visit. Her parents were able to send her to South Korea her junior year of high school--a cheaper, more doable option. Although it was not Japan, Ruhlen fell in love. 

“It was a total accident,” said Ruhlen, while explaining her attention to South Korea later in her anthropological career. For her dissertation project, Ruhlen did field work studying feminist groups in South Korea. She and her husband and stepson lived in a metropolitan area of South Korea during her field work--which was a huge change from their previous location for her husband’s field work in a rural village in China. 

After moving around a bit more, having another child, and finishing her studies, Ruhlen and her husband ended up in Davidson in 2007 because Fuji got a job as a professor. Later on, Ruhlen was also able to get a teaching job at Davidson as well. After going through childbirth herself, Ruhlen steered towards a new type of feminist activism: motherhood and, in particular, the culture of breastfeeding. Ruhlen works with and is a counselor for Breastfeeding USA. Their goal is to disperse knowledge and information to mothers about breastfeeding and also to normalize breastfeeding and turn it into a social norm.

Being a professor at Davidson has helped Ruhlen see her interests through a new lens; “sharing your passion gets [Davidson students] excited,” said Ruhlen. She had taught at other universities including UNC Charlotte, Indiana University, and Purdue University, but she finds that working at Davidson due to both the atmosphere and the students is some of the most satisfying work she has done. 

Ruhlen adores her students and loves that she can both teach and learn in her position here. She wants to tell the female student body, in particular, to “cultivate fearlessness, and to stop apologizing."  

 

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