Pictured Left to right: Javier Verduzco Espinoza, Dr. Jennifer Nelson, Director of WGST.
The Emily Culpepper Award is given every year to a student who demonstrates excellence in Women's and Gender Studies. In the spirit of Emily's lifetime dedication to social change, we also look for a student dedicated to social transformation.
This year the award was presented to Javier Verduzco Espinoza.
The following text was read by Dr. Jennifer Nelson at the Honors and Recognition Convocation on May 19th, 2013 at the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel.
I first met this year's Emily Culpepper Award winner in his first year at the university in my Intro to Women's and Gender Studies classroom. As the students went around the room explaining why they took the course, I was struck by the young man who came to college to major in Women's and Gender Studies. I was further struck by his astute comments and critical analysis of gender norms throughout that semester.
Javi Espinoza, our award-winner, said, on that first day, that he was majoring in Women's and Gender Studies to address violence against women and normative masculinities that foster violence, ultimately hurting both women and men. He had already started a non-profit organization in his high school that still exists – it's called "In a Box" – and yes, you can make a donation. It provides essential items to women and children living in domestic violence shelters. Javi's commitment to transforming unequal and dysfunctional gender norms has also been a central part of his senior capstone project. He has spent the past year developing and teaching "gender" in Juvenile Hall to teenagers through the REACH program. As he has long known from his own personal experiences, this is a high stakes issue because violence deeply impacts the lives of these young people and much of that violence is gendered.
Javi plans to dedicate his life to ending violence associated with normative masculinity that is often perpetrated against women, but also hurts young men when they think masculinity is about being able to fight, and sometimes kill. Javi's work, and young lifetime of commitment to activism, demonstrates that social transformation is possible.
Join me in honoring Javi for all the work he's already done and all the work he will do to create a more just, safe world.
Jennifer Nelson, Ph.D.
Director, Women's and Gender Studies Program
University of Redlands