Ben Seebaugh (B.A. 2014)
What connections do you see between WGST at WVU and your current work?
- In my current role as Project Coordinator for the New York City Department of
Corrections, I apply my studies in WGST in a number of ways. I help conduct
training on transgender bathrooms, lead the Gay Officers Action League, and
help with a gender responsivity work group working to apply equal standards
of treatment to all employees and inmates. A WGST degree is a versatile degree
that is easily applicable to any field, and I incorporate my knowledge from
How did our program prepare you to do what you’re doing today?
- The WGST program at WVU provided a background that was ahead of its time. My current
field is catching up on a lot of the things we learned in my basic WGST studies.
We’re implanting LGBTQ programs and looking at equal treatment for employees
and inmates. We’re accomplishing this by starting small programs and trainings,
like asking inmates and employees what pronoun they identify with. My education
was ahead of the curve, and I’m able to now begin to implement what I learned
in WGST to corrections.
How did your experience at WVU help you find your passion?
- WVU is where I found myself and found what I care about, fighting for the
voiceless and the oppressed world-wide. I exercised this at WVU through SGA and
various other organizations, as well as my studies in International Relations
and WGST. A large portion of my studies focused on theoretical knowledge that
I now apply in my every day work through reform.
What are you passionate about in your work?
- For my capstone, I did a paper that was called something to the effect of The Disproportionate
Impact on the Family of Female Incarceration. A female family member being incarcerated
has a greater impact on the family than a male’s incarceration. This led me to
begin considering law enforcement as a possible avenue for employment. Now, I
work to provide effective programming to inmates; the goal is to help inmates
become better when they leave our facilities than when they entered. We want
to make the world of corrections a more inclusive and socially-just field.
What are your long-term plans?
- The end goal is to be a human rights officer for the United Nations.
What would you recommend to current majors for the post-graduation life and work?
- Find internships where you will learn and make connections – and keep those connections.
Seek things broadly and picture where you want to be in 5-10 years. Outline the
steps you’ll need to take to get there. It’s all about visualization and smalls
steps to big goals.
What experience, academic, or otherwise, has had the most impact on you?
- In regards to my time at WVU, I would have to say being involved in student organizations
and making a difference in the community. This led me to get a hands-on understanding
that even a student can create change. It was really inspiring. If I could make
real change as an undergrad, what could I do out in the world?
What is your favorite WVU memory?
- It would have to be winning the SGA Vice Presidency. My time spent in this position
was so special to me; I loved every minute of what I did on campus.
Where do you see this program in 3 years?
- I think the Center for WGST is already doing so well that it’s difficult to critique.
I’d love to see an increase in students, continued advancement of the curriculum,
and remaining competitive with other top tier universities.
What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing a career in Women and Gender Studies?
- WGST is an education that can take you many different places; be creative in your career searches. This program can be applied to so many fields in so many ways. I work in law enforcement, but apply WGST knowledge daily. The need for WGST knowledge is not in WGST, but often WGST programs, knowledge, and trainings are desperately needed in other areas. We need WGST advocates across all disciplines.