Pitzer Spotlights

2004-2005 Spotlight Archives

Senior Thesis Award Winners Focus on Local and Global Settings

CCCSI Thesis Award Winners

Nichole Brams '05 and Chelsey Hauge '05

Chelsey Hauge ’05 and Nicole Brams ’05 are the recipients of the Center for California Cultural and Social Issues (CCCSI) Senior Year Thesis Award. The award is designed to support Pitzer College seniors completing their thesis during the spring 2005 semester focused on community-based work across local and global settings.

While studying in Xalapa Mexico, Hauge was disturbed by the way women were portrayed in photographs.

“There were posters of women tied up or women on their hands and knees and being used as a table,” she explained. “It sent a very misogynistic message. I wondered how women’s experiences in that culture were different from what I saw in those photos.”

Her thesis, titled “Community Resistance: an International Study of Resistance and Response to Violence Against Women,” explores the view of women in Mexico to women in the U.S. and how society’s view from the outside differs from the women’s reality.

“When you give women space to create visual images about themselves, the space to express their personal experiences, it is very empowering,” Hauge said. “It sends a different message than those created by people on the outside.”

Meanwhile, Brams is still processing her time abroad in Ecuador, where she worked with children of women in prison.

“In Ecuador, there is no foster care system,” Brams said. “The children live with their mothers in prison—there are kids up to 17 years old living in there.”

In her thesis, titled “The Effects of Incarceration on Women and Their Children: A Comparative Study in Ecuador and the United States,” Brams will compare and contrast the highly institutionalized and regulated foster care system of the United States with the highly un-institutionalized and unregulated system in Ecuador. Through a number of interviews with women in prison in Ecuador and in the U.S., as well as interviews with psychologists from both countries, Brams looks at the sociological effects the prison system has on children and family.

“The worldwide rates of incarceration are skyrocketing and especially those of women,” Brams relayed. “I want to examine the effects that it has on the children, who are the future. Is it healthy to live in a jail as a child? Is it better to live with foster parents?”

With help from the CCCSI awards, Hauge and Brams will continue shaping their Senior Thesis projects, integrating their time abroad with domestic issues. After graduation, Hauge and Brams plan to further their social work experience. Hauge, returning to Xalapa Mexico, will work at a center for women’s sexual rights and diversity. Brams, while not sure which aspect she would like to focus on, knows she wants to be involved with the prison system.

“What I love about Pitzer are the projects you can get involved in, such as working with CCCSI or studying abroad,” Brams mused. “They can totally change your perspective and what direction you take with your life.”

-Catherine Okereke ‘00