Meet Abby, one of Siena’s most passionate students. You’ve probably seen her at Women’s Center events or walking to class with heavy English books in her hands. Read on to learn more about Abby and how she plans on making a difference on our campus.
Name: Abby Duker
Hometown: Delmar, NY
Class Year: 2018
Concentration: Women’s Studies
Favorite Book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Bossypants
Favorite TV Show: New Girl
Favorite Movie: Easy A and She’s the Man
Favorite Food: Apples with Nutella
Her Campus Siena: What drew you to Siena?
Abby Duker: At first, I would definitely say Siena’s financial aid package. My other top choices were unable to compete with the scholarship Siena gave me. Once I was committed and on the campus and discovered things like the Women’s Center and other extracurriculars that really allow you to get heavily involved, I was sold. Now I can’t see myself anywhere else.
HC: What are you involved with on campus?
Abby: The main thing I’m involved with is the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women. I am on the Peace and Non-Violence committee, so I put my efforts into combatting issues like anti-human trafficking, anti-slut shaming, and gendered issues. Though I am active in planning and running events for my committee, I am often called our residential artist, since I do a fair share of our graphic designing. I’m also in PEEPS, which is the Peer Education and Empowerment Program. We go into First Year Seminar classes and teach on topics such as active by-standing and offensive language. Being a PEEP and working at the Women’s Center goes very hand in hand. I also have a job off-campus, so that also takes up a lot of my time. Between my job at the Center, my job off-campus, and my studies, there is little time for anything else. I would eat, sleep, and breathe social justice work if there were enough hours in the day!
HC: When did the desire to get involved with women’s issues begin for you?
Abby: It began in high school. I went to a really small high school in Greenville, NY, which is practically in the middle of nowhere. It should be noted that women’s issues are not talked about there. We did not have an extensive sex education program, so there wasn’t an avenue for the students to dive into deeper topics within sexuality. People would call me a feminist and I didn’t really know what that meant, but went along with it. When everyone was cracking the “make me a sandwich” jokes, I got really offended and would always stick to my guns, even with my best friends. But I didn’t have my feminist awakening, as you might call it, until I came to Siena. I met two wonderful young women, Anna Youngman and Delany Rives, and they quickly became my mentor figures. No later than two weeks after I had started to call Siena home, I was already pursuing social justice work. I guess you could say I found my niche.
HC: Why do you think the work you and everyone else at the Women’s Center does is important?
Abby: The Bowman Center holds so many different personalities, with all different majors, interests, and career goals, but there is one common characteristic between us all, we have passion. We use this passion and funnel it in to trying to create a safer and more aware campus. I think what’s most important is that we are a group of men and women coming together to fight topics that are important right here on campus. Not only do topics like slut-shaming and cat calling need to be combatted on campus, but we hope to flow this knowledge out into the local community. We had the protest last year against the sexist billboard down the road, we go to Take Back the Night, last year it was hosted at Saint Rose College to combat domestic violence, we teach GrowGirl, and do so many other things to engage all the people we can with our information. I think it’s really important for people, no matter what sex or age, to start getting involved in this work because it’s going to affect everyone when they’re older in the workplace. One major misconstruction about the Bowman Center is that we only want to address women, which we don’t. We are focused on equality for the sexes, Fair Trade, health and wellness, and combatting violence against all people. That is why the work we do is important, we are trying to change the world to make it a better place, not just for certain individuals, but for everyone.
HC: Why did you chose English as your major?
Abby: I knew I didn’t want to go into anything having to do with math or science, and by the end of my senior year of High School, English just seemed to fit. I would call myself an avid reader and I love to write. It’s just where my expertise is. It’s what I’m good at. And with the marketing minor and focusing on women’s issues, I want to work for a non-profit organization. But, I’m hoping actually to go into the marketing field for a non-profit and do primarily advertisement.
HC: What are your goals for the rest your time at Siena?
Abby: I hope to expand outside of my comfort zone and get involved in other clubs on campus, bring the skills I’ve learned from the Women’s Center and PEEPS with me. When you work around social justice everyday it becomes a part of you, and part of being an advocate is sharing your passions with the people around you. One thing I’m working on right now is becoming a volunteer for the American Red Cross on Everett Road. I recently was a part of our Donut Dollie Vietnam War event and the correspondent from the American Red Cross informed me about the social work internships they have where you get to work directly with people seeking some form of after care. I’m really excited to get my training started.
HC: We already touched on this before, but what are your future career aspirations?
Abby: Well, I do want to work for a non-profit organization. I honestly couldn’t tell you what else besides that. I think the joy of being in college at this place in my life is knowing: A. I want to make a difference and B. There are so many ways in which I can do that. Especially when I know I want to work toward gender equality and women’s advocacy, there is always something to be done. I see a lot of people who’ve graduated from Siena from the Center and they’re working at advocacy centers and they’re working at shelters or non-profits. I’m determined to find my place, and I know that if I continue to work hard and pursue what I love, a job will hopefully arise. I try to remain optimistic.
HC: What is your favorite memory at Siena so far?
Abby: That’s tough! One thing that was pretty funny occurred during the protest last year. It was freezing and we were standing outside and screaming at the top of our lungs and getting cars to beep in support. But, we got hungry. We had ordered pizza and when it got here the pizza guy parked across the street and then walked the pizza over to where we were protesting. It was just a really great experience all together, but that definitely must have been a fun sight to see! There were also not just people from the Women’s Center. There were people from other groups on campus and even people from Saint Rose there. So, it really showed us that as a team we were working together for a common cause, even the pizza guy!
HC: Last question. Is there any public figure, like a celebrity, that you consider to be your role model?
Abby: I think when you want to go into the type of field that I want to, you have a lot of role models because there are a lot of women, especially celebrities and people that are rising, that are doing work towards the things that I’m passionate about. One person who is more our age that I really look up to is Emma Watson. Not only is she a great actress, but the work she’s done with the HeForShe campaign and the UN is amazing. She is so inspiring especially because of her age. And then I love Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, even Amy Schumer! These awesome women raise a lot of awareness about important topics through facets of comedy. I think that’s really important. Even if I don’t agree with everything every person I look up to does, I see that a lot of women are being shown as powerful, as experts in their field, and as making a difference. So, those are just a few of them.