Katie Doolittle – Staff Writer
Junior Triston Clark, a Communication Studies major and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies minor from Dassel, Minnesota, embodies the socially conscious and empowered Gustavus student.
Clark is drawn to Gustavus’ commitment to making academia powerful and meaningful for its young adult students. “Gustavus is special because of the people who work here every day to make our college experience fulfilling and educational,” Clark stated.
With his work and experience in the field of communications, Clark is excited to understand others’ viewpoints. “I chose to be a Communication Studies major because I really enjoy working with individuals who might be able to offer new perspectives that, due to my lived experience, might not have known,” Clark said.
As part of the Communication Studies mission statement, students like Clark are educated to become “innovative, global citizens who are leaders and advocates in their interactions with others, in their professional lives, and in their communities.”
Students of the Communications Department study critical media, interpersonal and intercultural communication, and the role rhetoric plays in the social, political, and cultural landscape.
As a department, according to their online page on the Gustavus Adolphus website, they offer research experiences, community-based learning, and innovative critical media education. In addition to building a network with award-winning professors that are leaders in their field.
In relation to his minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWS), Clark aspires to utilize his privileges to garner a more inclusive and just society. “My main goal for the future is to use the parts of my identity that I have experienced privilege to demand attention and action, then create spaces for people who are systematically disadvantaged or underprivileged, and would not usually have a “space” in the area,” Clark said.
In the GWS department, students closely dissect the inner workings of gender in the contemporary sphere to ignite constructive change. “Students will examine the meanings of femininity, masculinity, sexuality, and desire as well as the ways that groups and individuals construct their identities within and across a variety of historical, social, and cultural contexts.”
The department also studies different aspects of identity in regard to the constructs of gender. “Students will also examine the ways that gender and sexuality intersect with other categories of social difference such as race, class, ethnicity, nationality, religion, ability, and age.”
Clark’s enthusiasm for his major is deeply appreciated by his peers. “If someone were to ask me what I enjoy most about Triston, it would be his ability to freely speak his mind and to not be afraid to be himself, which is valuable in today’s world!” said Junior and fellow Communications Studies major Britta Blanding.
Prior to his studies and committing to his major and minor, Clark was drawn to the Gustavus campus due to its small, personable nature.“I chose to attend Gustavus because the campus felt like home. It is hard to explain… When I originally toured, I left knowing that Gustavus would be my place. I like the people and the smaller campus, and I really enjoy having personal connections with faculty,” Clark said.
With the average course size being around 17 students, it allows students like Clark to develop a stronger understanding of their studies in addition to instilling a stronger, more communicative connection with their professors and peers. The one-on-one atmosphere makes folks feel more at ease with their work in addition to their personal connections.
With Clark’s various interdisciplinary relations, he utilizes such in his student employment. “I work in the Communication Studies department and will soon be working with the Career Development Center so I can be a resource to other students on campus,” Clark said.
The Career Development Center is an office dedicated to serving students with their career aspirations and strengths. According to their information page on the Gustavus Adolphus website “Encouraging personal career responsibility, the Center for Career Development supports all students in their career journeys by providing resources, connections, and communities to make informed transitions through explorations and experiences.”
Clark’s enthusiasm is admired by his employers. “Triston is a fun, smart, and energetic student I am lucky enough to work with. Seeing Triston brightens my day when he stops in to check on me, give me updates about campus, or to just drop in and eat lunch. I never know what fun news Triston is going to tell me each day and I look forward to seeing him in my office or out around campus,” said Career Development Specialist Emilie Moeller.
With Clark’s expertise, he’ll be a helping hand with his peer’s accomplishments outside of the Gustavus campus. “Success is something we earn as a community, and I would love to help with that,” Clark said.