A Sinatra gives voice to women and gender issues at Union

Publication Date

In early February, Kathleen Sinatra ’21 was thrilled to learn that she was the latest Union student selected for a Kathryn Wasserman Davis Projects for Peace award. The competition is an invitation to undergraduates to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer. The objective is to encourage and support today's youth to create and try out their ideas for building peace.

Expanding upon her work as a summer research fellow last year, Sinatra planned to host workshops in communities around New York and her home state of Connecticut to empower participants to use their voice to write about women’s rights and gender equality issues.

However, COVID-19 scuttled those plans. In late March, the Davis foundation announced that due to the worldwide pandemic, all of its projects for this year were canceled, along with the $10,000 grant awarded to each student. The foundation hopes to roll the grants over to next year, but nothing has been finalized.

Sinatra did not want to wait. Encouraged by Lynn Evans, director of National Fellowships and Scholarships, and Christine Henseler, professor of Spanish, Sinatra quickly pivoted to adapt her project for a virtual audience.

Now, instead of targeting communities in the two states, Sinatra’s focus is on her Union community. Using Zoom, she will host weekly two-hour workshops from her bedroom at her parents’ Bridgewater, Conn., home.


“I think students are looking for ways to stay connected and involved,” Sinatra said. “I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to do this while we are all still in school.”

Open to all students, up to 15 participants at a time will engage in a brainstorming session. They will then go into breakout rooms and write a short piece on issues relevant to gender equality and women’s rights. There is also a peer review of each piece. The writings will be posted to a blog and may be included in a book Sinatra is developing.

The project, “A Letter to My Little Sister: Union Writes for Women’s Rights,” kicks off in the next week or two and continues through the spring term and into the summer.

“This gives students an opportunity to use their voice to create change,” said Sinatra (and yes, she is a distant relative to you-know-who). “Student voices are often not called upon or utilized in terms of making change. Hopefully, this will help lead to the end of gender inequality.”

The inspiration for the project sprung from a class Sinatra took with Henseler, “Students Call for Social Change.” It also coincides with Union’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of co-education.

“Women have been at Union for 50 years, but we still have a long way to go in terms of our world being equal,” Sinatra said.

Students interested in learning more about the project can email Sinatra at dearlittlesister@union.edu.

Kathleen Sinatra ‘21

Hometown: Bridgewater, Conn.

Major: Double major in political science and Spanish and Hispanic studies

Project title: “A Letter to My Little Sister: Union Writes for Women’s Rights”

Synopsis: A blog and book project that aims to compile the voices of all people who want to fight for gender equality through writing letters to their “little sister.”