Student Spotlight: Claudia Woods

Profile photo of Claudia Woods (she/her/hers)

Claudia Woods is currently a senior working on completing a double major in English Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies, alongside a minor in Social Justice. Over the course of the summer, Woods has spent a large portion of her time interning with the One Love Foundation as Team Accessibility Captain.

This internship was a unique experience for Claudia. “My primary takeaways are that any professional opportunity is at least partly what you are willing to make of it,” Woods says. “If you have a vision and the work ethic, you are dedicated and care enough about the issue, and believe in an organization— that will take you a long way.” While providing heightened experience, development, and professionalization, among other integral skills, this internship also gave Woods an excellent means of putting herself out there. “I took a chance because I knew that the chance was worth taking.” The opportunity to advocate for such a marginalized group as the disabled—one that remains, much of the time, somewhat invisible to the population at large—is a unique one.  Woods speaks warmly of her experience with the One Love Foundation: “My experience advocating for an invisible and ignored marginalized population was really its own formative & empowering experience. Advocating for disabled people like me even within an organization that dedicates itself to advocacy was its own unique journey.”

In the Spring of 2021, Woods will be working toward a completion of her senior thesis in Women’s and Gender Studies as well. For her WGST 485 capstone, Woods will be focusing on focuses on issues of sexual violence and disability in Black Women Literature with Dr. Danny Tweedy. “My passion for sexual violence prevention, education, and advocacy, for accessibility and disability inclusion, and my recognition that Black women and disabled people make up an extremely large parentage of Sexual Violence victims have pushed me to explore this topic,” Woods says. “I really love Black Women Literature. I took Black Women Writers my sophomore year with Dr. Tweedy, and I can safely say it has been one of my favorite experiences as a student at UMW. I think that Black women writers have a way of articulating trauma, misogyny, racism, pain, and oppression that is incredibly difficult to do and to do well.” We look forward to seeing the product of Woods’ hard work in the coming semester!