Southern Utah University senior, Sarah Pirzada, was the lone undergraduate student who presented at the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at United Nations Headquarters, a co-sponsored event through the Sociologist for Women and Society (SWS) on March 10.
Invited to speak by SWS for her recognition as this year’s recipient of the Undergraduate Social Action Award, Pirzada presented to a packed room of researchers, scholars, government delegates and diplomats on her experiences working alongside victims at the Cedar City Women’s Crisis Center (CCWCC). Her presentation was titled “Finding Praxis, Working Alongside Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in the United States.”
Pirzada presented alongside doctorate and graduate students, an intimidating factor for this women and gender studies senior from Payson, Utah, but said she found common ground knowing that each person in attendance was searching for equality in women so academic achievement didn’t matter.
Pulling from her experiences as a volunteer and a client service coordinator at CCWCC, Pirzada spoke about working with survivors of domestic violence and then combined it with knowledge gained in the classroom, and how those two experiences are major factors in the development of ethics and advocacy, specifically in southern Utah.
Shobha Gurung, SUU assistant professor of sociology and member of SWC economic and social council, said of her undergraduate student’s presentation, “Sarah’s presentation was great. It is rare for undergraduate to be involved at this level, but it is ideal for their professional careers. Women and gender studies is brand new at SUU, but look what our first cohort is achieving, it’s amazing.”
Those in attendance come to the CSW sessions to learn how to encourage gender equality in their communities, according to Dr. Manisha Desai, past president of SWS and associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut.
She said of Pirzada’s presentation, “Sarah did a great job showcasing the work she has done with the women’s crisis center. She was able to help others in the room learn how to organize their own crisis center and learn the best practices of working with women who have been victims of sexual crimes.”
Remarking on her education at SUU, Pirzada stated, “I think it goes without saying that an education at SUU, and experiential education, can lead you anywhere, even to the United Nations.”