10 Things I Did this Summer… from Your Women’s Center Staff

With the Fall semester underway, the Women’s Center staff wanted to give you some insight into how we spent our summer. We look forward to hearing about your summer adventures as well!

Brittany Dernberger, Assistant Director
My summer was both amazing and a whirlwind of activity. I spent most of May and June co-leading the Women’s Center and Women & Gender Studies study abroad trip to South Africa! Check out our South Africa blog to learn more about our experience. This was the second time I’ve been on this trip and it’s always phenomenal to be part of the tremendous learning that takes place for everyone in the group. One of my favorite parts of the trip is getting to spend time with local activists and leaders who are doing social justice work in Cape Town. After the group left, my Dad flew out and we spent two weeks traveling around the country – we went wine tasting, on a safari in Kruger National Park, and I took him to many of the historical sites.

After I returned home from South Africa, I spent the remainder of the summer enjoying time with my partner, hanging out with friends and family, and reveling in the sunshine and Lake Michigan. Although it went by quickly, I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to partake in exciting adventures with students in South Africa!

bd eats smiley up north 2014
Photos of Brittany eating a smiley (a South African sheep’s head that’s roasted on the side of the road) and relaxing in Northern Michigan

Aubrey Dull, Violence Against Women Act Graduate Assistant
Before I dive into talking about my super awesome, homework filled summer I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself.  My name is Aubrey, and I am the new Violence Against Women Act Graduate Assistant here at the Women’s Center.  I am currently working on my Master’s in Social Work, which means I spend most of my time on the downtown campus – I am very excited to be back in Allendale all these years after completing my undergraduate studies here.  I have a two year old cat named Roo, and she is tied for the cutest creature on the planet with my six month old niece Evie.  (Of course, I am a little biased.)  I am a lover of all things nerdy, and feminism is kind of my jam.

As a full-time grad student, my summer was filled with a lot of reading, writing, and studying.  Exciting, I know.  Some highlights from those rare non-homework filled moments of my summer include:

  • I donated a foot and a half of my hair to Children with Hair Loss.
  • An article I worked on with one of my former professors was published in Social Work Education: the International Journal.
  • Some friends at my old office and I started up a weekly Dungeons & Dragons group.  Our party slayed a huge blue dragon a few weeks ago, which was kind of awesome. (Did I mention I’m a giant nerd?)
  • I learned how to change the headlight bulbs in my car.  If you know me, you know this is an accomplishment of epic proportions.
  • I interviewed for, was offered, and accepted this graduate assistant position.  Definitely a highlight of my summer.  🙂

I am looking forward to my time here at the Women’s Center and can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Jessica Jennrich, Director
I spent my summer learning about West Michigan with my family, my partner Shana and three kids Jackson (8) and five year old twins Gus and Greta.  We roughed the waves at Grand Haven, soared to new heights at Michigan Adventure, and enjoyed the wonderful museums Grand Rapids had to offer!  We also took a few moments to just be present and let the kids be kids (who remembers those plastic pools in their yard, catching frogs, and paying baseball growing up?).  We even got some new additions to our family (two hamsters and a lizard..eek!).

While the work projects of the Women’s Center were not forgotten, I truly enjoyed got a chance to slip away and spend some time with my partner meeting our favorite musician Tori Amos (who is delightful in person).  And, as I made my way home yesterday I spotted what could be a the first fall leaf of autumn, and even though summer was a blast, I am SO excited to have the students back and see campus bustling again.  I am ready to hear all YOUR stories about your summer vacations and begin planning with you for an amazing fall!

put put kids (2)  Tori (2)
Photos of Jessica’s family and meeting famous feminist musician Tori Amos

Cheyenne Marlin, College Student Affairs Leadership Graduate Assistant
My name is Cheyenne Marlin. I am the new Graduate Assistant for the Women’s Center. I graduated with my B.A. in International Studies from Northern Michigan University in 2012. I have spent the last two years living and working in Houston, TX. My summer of 2014 was used to wrap up everything in the South and head back to the Midwest to start a new adventure. I packed, packed and packed some more throughout the month of May. The first week of June, Sam (my dog) and I made the move to Michigan. I moved in with my parents for a brief period of time while I searched for a place to live closer to campus. After which, I packed up and moved to Grand Rapids. My summer can pretty much be condensed into packing, moving, unpacking and cleaning. All extra time was spent with my terrific dog – Sam. The picture provided was taken this past Spring in the hill country of Texas where I pulled over on the side of the road to make him pose in Bluebonnets (Texas Tradition).

Sam, Cheyenne’s Dog

Theresa Rowland, Victim Advocate & Violence Against Women Act Grant Coordinator
I kicked off the summer by purchasing a Harley Davidson Hugger. Riding over 4,000 miles visiting friends, family and touring West Michigan was one of my best experiences over the summer. There is nothing better to relieve stress then to take a ride alone. As a wise person once said, “driving a car is like watching a movie, riding a motorcycle is like being in the movie”

photo (13)
Theresa on her motorcycle

Darrhonda Scott-Jones, Office Coordinator
My summer was filled with excitement as my oldest son graduated this year and we spent a lot of time getting things together for him to go off to college on a basketball scholarship to Central Michigan University. We are all so excited for him. #GoDaRohn#FireUpChips

DaRohn to CMU
Darrhonda’s son, DaRohn, at CMU with his siblings

Jo Ann Wassenaar, Associate Director
I love being outdoors, anytime of year, but especially when the weather is sunny and warm.  So I looked forward to this summer with great anticipation, especially after surviving the past winter. The first part of summer was filled with walking, biking and other outdoor activities but then July 8th happened.  One minute I was happily “Eco-Trekking” with my instructor and the next minute I was being helped back to my car as I rolled my ankle on an exposed tree root.  I decided if I ignored the pain that it would heal itself, but the next morning my ankle was swollen and bruised.

A quick trip to the doctor’s office revealed that I had fractured my ankle and had a serve sprain.  I left her office with a walking boot and the stern warning that I was to take it easy for the next 6 weeks or risk possible surgery.  I left feeling pretty sorry for myself as I envisioned a much different summer.  What I didn’t realize that day is that my fracture was really a gift of time.  I have a tendency to over-commit myself and with the walking cast found it hard to get around, I gave myself permission to turn down requests for my time.   I then reframed what my next 6 weeks should look like – this included a lot of time to reflect, read, truly relax and enjoy many summer sunsets.  In the end it wasn’t really a broken ankle but the gift of time.


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