Photo courtesy of Camila Hwang-Carlos (C’22).
By Bella Francois
For Camila Hwang-Carlos (C’22), majoring in history at Sewanee was not her original plan. Still, due to the freedom to take classes across disciplines, she discovered her true passion for history and how that connects with her interest in women’s and gender studies.
“I fully expected myself to major in English when I started at Sewanee, but I discovered a love for history I hadn’t known before,” Hwang-Carlos said.
Hwang-Carlos’ love for history began with a fantastic Sewanee professor, as is true for many students across their different fields of study. Her history class with Dr. Sarah Naramore in her first semester of freshman year opened her eyes to how extensive the study of history can be. Dr. Naramore also helped foster Hwang-Carlos’ interest in women’s and gender studies, which is now her minor.
“I have had her for two history/women’s and gender overlap classes, and she said she had noticed how passionate I was about women and gender studies and suggested I pursue a minor,” she explained.
One of the most exciting parts about studying history is that it applies to all aspects of life, so one can take the study of history in any direction they choose.
“I think there are opportunities for different ways to study various topics in every field, but I think a unique thing about history is that you can incorporate those other fields into your study of history as well,” said Hwang-Carlos.
Its versatility makes a history major perfect to pair with a women’s and gender studies minor because the issues discussed in women’s and gender studies are universal. However, women’s and gender studies are very misunderstood, with many people not understanding the universal application.
“I think one misconception about women’s and gender studies is that it is only for women. I think our generation does have better associations with feminism than others because of the widespread use of the internet, but there are still a lot of negative connotations. Sometimes, people think that feminism is only for women, and they don’t realize the extent to how much sexism impacts men,” Hwang-Carlos explained.
In addition to the misconceptions about women’s and gender studies that Hwang-Carlos has struggled with, it is also incredibly difficult to narrow in on a focus of study, especially in two vast fields.
“There’s so much I could focus on, and so much I have yet to learn. You’ll never be able to learn everything in history, and accepting that is a bit difficult when you want to know everything. It’s just not possible,” Hwang-Carlos said.
However, despite this challenge, Hwang-Carlos is incredibly hopeful for the future, though it is uncertain, and hopes to use what she has learned in her thorough Sewanee education to positively impact her community, whether that is at home or in grad school or beyond. She also credits Sewanee’s liberal arts education for her discovery of history and encourages others to take advantage of all of the classes offered.
“I encourage first years to take lots of types of classes and try subjects they haven’t tried before because you never know if you’ll fall in love with something you’ve never tried before,” she concludes.