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WGS 400 Independent Study Spotlight: Jenny Satchwell

First, introduce yourself!  

I’m Jenny Satchwell, and I’m working toward my degree in the School of Social Work. I’m starting my second year of the program and am working in the Child and Family Concentration. Before Illinois State, I worked in the mental health field for 10 years. I worked primarily with women and families, and this got me interested in pursuing the graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies. I’m passionate about issues of social justice that affect women. I’m also an ISU alumna, receiving my bachelor of arts in anthropology in 2005.

Tell us about your Independent Study.  What was the project, who did you work with, and what did you learn?

Over the summer I worked with Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Sciences Shelley Clevenger. I did qualitative research on how cultural stereotypes, which normalize sexual violence (i.e. rape myths), impact jurors’ decision-making in sexual assault trials. I examined public court records for legal argument patterns in sexual-assault cases and tried to determine which patterns resulted in convictions and which resulted in acquittals. Ultimately, I’m hoping that my research will help organizations that provide sexual assault education and outreach services in McLean County.

Does this experience directly impact WGS affiliated organizations outside of the University?

Statistics show that one in six women, and one in 33 men, will be the victim of a sexual assault at least once in their lifetime. And, 68 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police. Our local YWCA Stepping Stones program works specifically with victims of sexual assaults and their significant others. ISU and IWU also have programs that both help educate students about sexual assaults and provide services to victim/survivors.

Do you think that your independent study had any impact your future career path?

It certainly helped me to develop my academic research skills. Professionally, I think that this experience helped me to develop a greater understanding of the challenges and barriers my potential clients face. I also learned a great deal about the legal system in McLean County.

How did you develop your independent study? Do you have any advice for those thinking about a WGS Independent Study?

First, make an appointment with the Women’s and Gender Studies Advisor Stacia Kock. She helped me to brainstorm a couple ideas for my project, and I was able to narrow my focus as I learned more about the field. During our next appointment, she recommended that I contact Clevenger and ask her to work with me. I think that if anyone is interested in doing an independent study in WGS, but feels intimidated, it is recommended to meet with the faculty to talk about what you’re interested in learning and your concerns. Everyone was really helpful and made the process very easy for me!