Christy Koester is busy. Really busy. Like many student leaders, Christy manages to juggle projects like a magician -- balancing classes, work, student activities and motherhood every day. When the second leader for Making Waves, an affiliate of FMF's Choices Campus Leadership Program, stepped down last Fall to focus on class and work, an unlikely leader arose. Since becoming President last Spring, Christy has worked tirelessly to give a face and voice (and to find more voices) for feminist activism in a challenging campus environment at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
When did you discover feminism?
I honestly think the first time I encountered feminism was while watching "Saved By The Bell" when I was young. It is silly but TRUE! The character Jessie was always correcting the men around her when they would call women "chicks" or "babes." I adopted her attitude quickly and began to do the same thing myself. I believe feminism has always been a part of me, however being from a small town I had never even really heard the term until college. Years later when I ended up at SIUE one of the first courses I took was Issues in Feminism. There has been no stopping me ever since!
What inspired you to become a leader of Making Waves?
I wanted this group to thrive. For some reason others before me had a tough time making it happen. When I was offered the position I took it over with a knot in my stomach but I ran with it and I am so glad I did.
You seem to have an endless amount of energy. How do you juggle school, Making Waves and motherhood? Are they all connected in some way?
LOL! I have energy? Thanks for letting me know because I am exhausted all the time! Juggling everything has been so difficult but they are definitely connected! I find ways to involve my daughter in the things I am doing and everyone in the group loves her very much, we are like a little feminist family in a way. As an English major I am regularly able to find ways to express my feminist views through the literature and poetry we discuss in class and since I am a Women's Studies minor and work for the Women's Studies and Sociology departments on campus I am able to be involved a little more smoothly.
How would you describe the role of Making Waves at SIUE?
I believe our goal in the past has been to grow while promoting love and activism concerning women's issues. I believe in the future we will continue these goals but will also strive to educate ourselves and the campus about the issues both locally and globally still effecting us today.
What were your greatest accomplishments this year?
Love Your Body Day is always fun. We handed out mirrors this year and told women to "look and see how beautiful you are!" We also finally found a fundraiser to make some money for our group. We had a very large used books sale and made $658! We now have funds to do even more amazing things next year! Our biggest events by far though have been the VDAY events. We just finished The Vagina Monolgues this weekend and it seems we have raised over $1000 for our charities, including VDAY.org, A Call for Help, Oasis Women's Center, and Phoenix Women's Center that will help local women in need.
What were your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Our greatest challenge has been keeping a steady membership base. People get busy and fall off the map but we continue to push forward hoping to keep people interested.
Now that the group has found its footing, what do wish for MW next year?
Making Waves will have The Vagina Monologues in the Spring but we will also bring in some speakers and performers to get more student attention to women's issues on campus. We have also discussed a "gender bending" calender, that challenges societies expected gender roles (men in the kitchen, women working on cars, etc...) as a fundraiser :) Another thing we hope to accomplish this year is volunteering at our local shelters. We really want to be more involved now that we are more stable.
Christy is a senior at Southern Illinois State University Edwardsville studying English and Women's Studies.
This article was featured in our May 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine.