The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 27th

Moxie Scholars focus on gender studies, activism, history

Rachel Seidman, associate director of the Southern Oral History Program, said Moxie Scholars get trained in the method of oral history, explore women’s and gender studies in a class on women’s activism and complete an internship.

“On a deeper level, we are asking scholars to really think about how the history of women’s status in the U.S. and women’s activism in the U.S. is relevant to, or is changing, what they see going on around them today,” Seidman said.

Seidman said each scholar has an individual experience, but they come together to share those experiences and grow as a group. Though every Moxie Scholar so far has been female, Seidman said in an email, students don’t have to identify as women to apply.

“During the summer while they are doing internships, we have a weekly Friday seminar,” Seidman said. “We are asking students to be active learners and to do a lot of intellectual work to pull together the book learning with experiential learning.”

Senior Anan Zhou, a current Moxie Scholar, said at the end of the summer, the scholars work on a final project which reflects on the class they took, their internships and the oral histories they collected from activists.

“We worked on a quilt at the end of the year where we each contributed in a way that reflected the work we did in our internships,” Zhou said. “It was so cool because we got really close with one another and learned things about our experiences that maybe were not brought up in seminar.”

Coco Wilder, a UNC graduate and former Moxie Scholar, said the program enhanced her experience at UNC by providing the concentrations of history she was interested in.

“I wanted to study women’s and gender studies in history and southern activism, but the history department here didn’t have enough classes for the concentration I was interested in,” Wilder said.

“The Moxie Project was a way I could understand and produce my own documentation and my own primary sources. You will interview people, and you will clearly contribute to the historical record.”

When she was a scholar, Wilder said she raised money and conducted grant research as an intern at Benevolence Farm, a living center and farm for women transitioning out of incarceration.

“I was pretty new to North Carolina, and it really helped me understand myself as a citizen of the state,” Wilder said. “In addition to just being a UNC student, we were working out in the community and getting to know the Triangle.”

Wilder said one of the most rewarding aspects of the Moxie Project was being able to share all of her experiences with her fellow scholars and North Carolina.

“It was a great group of women,” Wilder said. “It helped me build a relationship with the state of North Carolina, and it introduced history as a radical tool of scholarship and activism.”

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