Student Info

Name: Christine Ramkarran
Major: English
Year: Spring 2018
From: Guyana
Why QC: “Because of its affordability and incredible liberal arts program. Many of my teachers in high school are graduates of QC and only had great things to say about their experience at the college.”

“I’ve had to deal with two different cultures that place women on very different playing fields, but either playing field isn’t equal to that of a man in America.”
– Christine Ramkarran

Christine Ramkarran

Fully aware that growing up in the United States has afforded her far more of a voice in determining what she can do with her life than she would have experienced in the more conservative culture of her native Guyana, Christine Ramkarran focuses her energies on the issue of gender equality.

An English major, Ramkarran was named a 2016 Jeanette K. Watson Fellowship winner. Over three consecutive summers, Watson Fellows receive paid internships that provide high-level work experiences and leadership seminars. Through her internships, Ramkarran hopes to broaden her understanding of what she can do to address certain social issues. “Right now,” she says, “I’m really concerned with gender equality.”
Ramkarran explains that as an immigrant woman, it’s hard not to be interested in gender equity. “I’ve had the privilege of being in America and having certain opportunities that my cousins back home don’t really get. The future for them is to get married at 16 or 17, have a bunch of kids, and take care of the home. I was fortunate not to have that one, single path.”

Despite the opportunities she’s enjoyed growing up in the U.S., she notes, “I’ve had to deal with two different cultures that place women on very different playing fields, but either playing field isn’t equal to that of a man in America.”

Ramkarran’s first placement under the Watson program was as a Community Engagement and Education Intern working on outreach efforts for “POV.” This long-running PBS program airs independent, nonfiction films that touch on a wide range of social issues. “I was put in charge of finding organizations nationally that deal with social issues,” she says.

“A film I worked on consistently for a month was Pervert Park,” she notes. “It’s about a community in Florida that houses individuals who have committed sexual offenses.” In the overwhelmingly male population in this housing facility, there were only two women, and nothing was being done to accommodate them any differently—despite the fact that most female sex offenders report being sexually abused. “This led me to believe that a separate facility should be created for them,” Ramkarran says.

She also worked on a film that follows the efforts of a woman helping her father make the transition from male to female. “The film followed not just being a woman, but being a transgender woman and what that meant for them,” Ramkarran says. “This involved having to move because the community they were living in wasn’t very open to them.”

In her nine weeks with “POV,” Ramkarran also screened uncut versions of documentaries under consideration for broadcast during the program’s upcoming thirtieth season. She contributed her thoughts as to whether the films were appropriate for PBS and got their point across without being one-sided. She also was involved in community outreach efforts to provide organizations with films and free educational materials to help them create a local event around the issue highlighted in the film.

While the second year of the Watson program permits assignments overseas, Ramkarran says she’d prefer to remain in the U.S. She’s already been offered a placement with the New York City Commission on Gender Equity, but thinks she’d rather work away from the city. Alaska, with its issues with the environment and indigenous people, and Atlanta, where organizations are working with Syrian refugee women, both interest her.

For the moment, however, she appreciates the significant takeaway from her first Watson placement. “This definitely solidified my passion about working with communities for social change,” she says. “The thing about ‘POV’ I really enjoyed was that I was able to call people and talk with them about these issues on a daily basis. I like people to know that a human person is at the other end of the line who really cares about the work that they’re doing.


Favorite Book: My favorite book is Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, which follows a young girl named Fig and her experience growing up with a schizophrenic mother.

Surprising Fact: I really enjoy watching shows and documentaries about the paranormal.