Gillian M. Singer ’19 graduated from Union College with degrees in gender, sexuality and women’s studies and Spanish and Hispanic studies. Now a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Canary Islands, she works with students aged 4 to 12 and assists full-time teachers. Gillian has also written and illustrated two children’s books, both published online to be used freely by anyone around the world. The projects were inspired by the difficulties she encountered when looking for free downloadable books for her students. During her time at Union, Gillian was a senior Admissions interviewer, a tour guide, president of Women’s Union, director and participant in the “Vagina Monologues,” and a member of Gamma Phi Beta, ODK honor society, Triota honor society and Sigma Delta Pi honor society. She was also the recipient of the Union College Academy of Lifelong Learning Research Grant in 2017 and 2018, an orientation advisor, a Klemm Fellow in 2018 and a Chabad Sinai Scholar. Gillian likes cooking, photography and digital illustration for her online platform, “Hysterically Gigi.” In fall 2020, she will begin earning her M.P.H. degree at Columbia University, specializing in sexuality and reproductive rights.
Who inspired and/or inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My parents have always been a main source of inspiration. At Union, my biggest inspirations were Professor Andrea Foroughi and Professor Erika Nelson. It was also so inspiring to be supported by alumnae like Dr. Laurie Mintz ’82 and trustees like Dr. Estelle Cooke-Sampson ’74, Judith Dein ’76, Julie Greifer Swidler ’79, Kelly Williams ’86 and Betsy Brand ’82, who I would meet every year at the Alumnae Tea.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
I’m still so young and do not necessarily feel old or wise enough to answer this, but the best pieces of advice I have ever received are: Be kind always. A leader doesn’t mostly talk; they listen and act accordingly.There are three things in life that every woman should be confident saying: “no,” “don’t interrupt me” and “no explanation needed.” Master these and never be afraid to use them. Vulnerability is any human’s biggest strength, NOT a weakness. Being emotional is what allows one to connect with other people and that’s what’s life is all about. Lastly, you can’t control other people’s behavior, only how you react.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
I think my most formative experience during my time at Union would be being part of the team that brought a Union contingent to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. in 2017. The experience allowed me to connect with parts of the Union community I had not yet connected with. And it was so touching to have the Union community come together and channel our collective passion into something so powerful.