By Becca Carlson
Pensacola State College (PSC) alumni Sydney Stone, not yet 22 years old, is ready to take on some pretty tough subjects such as gender equality. Applying the lessons she learned over the past few years at PSC, the University of West Florida (UWF), and the school of life— she is ready to make lasting change in the community.
Stone graduated in May 2014, from PSC with a General Studies (Liberal Arts) Associate’s degree. In the spring, she will complete her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Minor in Women and Gender Studies at UWF.
Exposure to PSC’s diverse student base contributed to Stone’s openness and acceptance of others. “PSC was a transitioning period of my life,” said Stone. “I liked that I got to learn about all of these students— a myriad of experiences. You have people from all walks of life coming for all different reasons.”
Stone’s first leadership role is as president of UWF’s Women’s Studies Collective (WSC). “I have always had a strong sense that there’s no reason my sex should keep me from doing anything. I was never told otherwise,” said Stone.
Stone feels that her mother is her ultimate female role model. “She is badass, awesome, and inspiring,” said Stone.
“My mom is an incredible woman. She’s witty, hardworking and honest. She has been a devoted professional massage therapist for over 25 years in addition to being a loving and supportive mother. Daily she sets an example for commitment, balancing life gracefully, and above all remembering ‘this too shall pass’ so either enjoy whatever you’re going through while you can or take comfort in knowing it will be behind you eventually,” said Stone.
Stone is also motivated by women such as Assata Shakur and Elizabeth Warren who rank among her strongest influences.
“I like that they also represent two pretty different ways of going about change: through rigmarole and bureaucracy of the system or outside of it in a grassroots revolutionary way. They inspire and embolden me,” said Stone.
Stone credits her father as the founder of her moral compass. “My dad always takes each person as they are. The best in you is the best in them,” said Stone. “I think when you start off with that philosophy, that’s how you make genuine connections.”
She considers herself a cautious listener and a careful observer. These traits will serve her very well as Managing Editor of the student journal Feminist Spaces, sponsored by the WSC.
“Women, gender and sexuality—the emphasis is on what is considered alternative to the dominate discourse and examining why it’s considered alternative. Why it’s not given as much importance,” said Stone.
The WSC also hosts The Feminist Iconography series which is an annual juried art exhibition at the Artel Gallery as well as a summer Feminist Open Mic Night that is open to the public.
A monthly Feminist Theory Reading group discusses topics such as women in the cinema, more specifically women in slasher films. “It’s very common for female characters to get killed after they have sex. There’s that punishing aspect of it,” said Stone.
Coming up on Friday, March 24th, Astronaut Cpt. Wendy B. Lawrence will be featured as the keynote speaker at WSC’s 16th Annual Women’s Studies Conference at the UWF Commons Conference Center. This event is open to PSC students and community members.
“My coming out experience in high school caused me to be interested in the gender aspect, sexuality aspect,” said Stone. “It’s the lens through which I like to view the world. It’s more inclusive, it celebrates diversity, and I think that it is predicated on challenging what you know and why you know it. That’s the way I want to live my life.”