From undergraduate student to professor at the College, and everything in between, Emily Bent has been an active member of activities and organizations involved with women’s and gender studies.
The ’03 graduate from the College is currently a member of the United Nation’s Working Group on Girls, is finishing up her Ph.D. at the University of Galway in Ireland and is the executive director of Sage Girl. All in addition to teaching women’s and gender studies classes at the College, including an FSP course on WILL, feminist theories and a course which delves into women, culture and society.
Bent is currently preparing for the first annual Day of the Girl, of which she is working with over 40 organizations to put together a virtual summit for Thursday, Oct. 11.
Bent said that she absolutely loved her experience as a student at the College, and that it was the perfect fit for her at the time.
“I tried to be involved with many clubs here on campus, and at the same time really found a home in women’s studies as a student and also found a passion academically and I think that’s really what sparked my professional interest as well,” Bent said. “I think (TCNJ) was the perfect place for me to have gone for that time in my life.”
After arriving at the College, she soon got involved with the Women’s Center and eventually became its president, was a member of the first graduating class of Women in Learning & Leadership, started the Bod Squad and was a part of the Vagina Monologues.
According to Bent, WILL is an alternative women’s leadership program that teaches female students not only how to become leaders, but also how to become activist leaders by working collaboratively in groups for a cause or an issue.
“When I was a student (WILL) was very small and, like I said, my graduating class was just me and one other person. Now there’s a hundred, whereas when I first started it was brand new. I think my true connection with WILL came after I graduated, to a large extent.”
Since receiving her master’s degree in women’s and gender studies at Rutger’s University, Bent has worked for various non-profit organizations, including Sage Girl, Girls Learn International, Working Group on Girls and is currently preparing for the first annual Day of the Girl.
“(Day of the Girl) is essentially a day to both celebrate and honor girls as powerful change agents, but it’s also about recognizing the
unique challenges that they face around the world in various capacities to become those change agents,” Bent said.
She hopes to give girls a space to share their experiences, give one another encouraging messages and to talk about the issues that are important to them.
Bent said that any of the times she gets to hang out with a group of girls is inspiring because she simply finds them fun to hang out with. However, if she had to pick one specific experience that was most inspiring to her, it would be when one girl said to her, “Can you imagine what girls could do if we never had to think about what we looked like?”
“It was so inspiring to me because, one, it was such recognition of the constraints that girls go through in a patriarchal culture, but just this very unique way of saying girls can do these great and amazing things and what would happen if we had no constraints at all?” she said. “You know, how cool would the world look then? I hold on to that particular statement.”
Other than teaching at the College, all work that Bent has been a part of has been non-profit. She genuinely cares about what she’s doing. “Take risks and try something new. Take on challenges. Anytime I get the chance to travel I take it in a second,” Bent said. “You can do something unique or take a different career path and change your mind. I think there’s just so much out there to engage in. Take risks, just take a chance on something.”
Once Day of the Girl is over and once she’s officially become Dr. Bent, she’s excited to simply see what’s next. She’s excited to read some fiction novels, hang out with her friends again and simply see where life takes her.