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Senior Reflective Series: Studying at Sterling Hall

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

How a lecture building left a lasting legacy

Being a student, I often think back on moments that do not involve academics. I think about the Friday nights spent with friends, Saturdays spent at Badger football games and Sundays spent in coffee shops. I don’t often think about my time in college from an academic standpoint, which is quite ironic considering that’s why I’m here in the first place. One of the places that has been monumental to my success in Madison is Sterling Hall. Sterling Hall is where I’ve developed a passion for feminist and queer topics and where I met my mentor and my best friends. 

On the first day of freshman year, I walked up the stairs to Sterling Hall feeling anxious as I entered my first college course of GWS 102. I was one of the first people in the 200-person lecture hall, and I hesitantly took a spot in the second row as it was closest to the door. As more and more people trickled in, my nerves only rose as I felt so small in the spectacle. A girl sat next to me and I debated if I should introduce myself. I saw the professor glide in with a big smile on her face, greeting people. Little did I know that in that big scary lecture hall, that professor would become my mentor and my best friends would be made.

November approached, and one of my first big midterms was hanging over me. I was told by my professor, TA and sister to go to office hours and talk to the professor. At that point, I was still intimidated by her intelligence and was scared that she would judge me for what I wanted to do for my midterm (I wanted to write about Taylor Swift). But after hyping myself up, I went to her office at Sterling Hall, knocked on her door and a relationship was born. After greeting her, we talked about my freshman year experience thus far, and I asked about how she became interested in GWS. She then asked what I wanted to major in, and at that point I said Psychology and we talked about that. It was after 15 minutes of talking when she finally asked about my midterm paper, but I wasn’t so anxious anymore. This meeting became the first of many with her. In December, I told her that she inspired me to major in GWS. In January of that school year, she introduced me to the world of research. Covid then came and altered everything. But by junior year, I was back to working on two research projects with my professor and taking my second class with her about care. Now, as a senior, she is my professor for my capstone, ending my college career the same way it began. 

Sterling Hall was also the place where I met my best friends. We were all in the same First-Year Interest Group (FIG) where we had three classes and two discussion sections together. In our first GWS discussion, I remember watching one of my soon-to-become closest friends stroll in late, and an unnecessary judgemental thought came to my mind. I then talked with another future friend, thinking, “Wow, she is the nicest person I’ve ever met.” Our big group was split into smaller groups, where the name “The FIG Bitches” was born. As the semester progressed, we spent our lunches together, got lost in the humanitie building, struggled up the iconic Bascom Hill and labored long hours on papers. We ran debates together, studied for our midterms and watched movies. We started off as classmates in Sterling Hall, and now they have become lifelong friends.

Overall, Sterling Hall became more than just a lecture hall. It has become a place where I feel safe and expressive as a queer person. I’ve become comfortable with taking on academic leaps like research projects with my professor, and I have met grad students there and explored future routes. I didn’t realize how much of a role an academic building could play in my life. The saying, “expect the unexpected” really came through here. 

Natalia Iding

Wisconsin '23

I'm a Sophomore at the Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison and planning to double major in Human Development and Family Studies and Gender Woman's Studies. In my free time, I like to watch Netflix, play sports, and hang out with my family!