A&S Class of ’24: Saoirse Farrell Aims to Make Equity a Lifelong Pursuit

Saoirse Farrell

Saoirse Farrell graduates as a Distinguished Major with a bachelor’s from the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality and a minor in global studies in education from the School of Education and Human Development.

She came to UVA interested in history, government and politics, and she enjoyed the classes she took in those subjects but quickly realized that what interested her most were specific themes that were only partially addressed in those courses.

“I realized I was more interested any time we talked about women, gender, sexuality and anything to do with relations of power and marginalized people, but those topics didn’t come up as often as I wanted them to, and then I discovered that there’s a whole department focused on those issues,” Farrell said.

In the spring of her first year, she took the introductory course in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality, and she fell in love with the discipline.

“Before that, I didn’t even know where to look, who to read or how to learn about this,” Farrell said.  “After taking the intro class, I knew what I wanted to do.”

Growing up attending Catholic schools, Farrell appreciates the power education has to shape perspectives, and as a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, she’s also interested in seeing issues from a global perspective, and the minor in global studies in education allowed her to explore those interests too.

“That’s always intrigued me, because that’s the life I live,” Farrell said.

This summer she’ll look for internships in the DC area, and next year she’ll start a master’s program in gender studies at University College Dublin where she’ll learn more about methodologies in the social sciences and see what gender studies looks like in another country.

“I studied abroad there in the spring of my third year, and I loved that experience,” Farrell said.

She has family in Dublin and could see herself living there for the long term, but she’s certain her future will include work with a nonprofit focused on gender policy, reproductive justice or the participation of women and queer folks in their communities.

“My goal in life and work is the same: to make the world a more equitable space on a concrete level,” Farrell said.  “What that looks like for me is to do that by looking at policy or by getting involved in political campaigning and community work.”

Her interests in politics and community advocacy also led Farrell to spend two years with University Democrats, the arm of the Democratic Party on Grounds, an experience that she has valued for the opportunities it has given her to make a difference.

With University Democrats, she’s advocated with B.U.C.K. Squad, a local organization working on gun violence prevention, and she’s advocated with Liveable C-ville, a group aimed at building healthy and inclusive communities and securing affordable housing and sustainable transportation for those residents.

A lover of cooking, reading, boxing and Irish rugby, Farrell has also been a Resident Advisor for Housing & Residence Life since her second year.  Her work with first-year students, helping them face both normal first-year challenges and, occasionally, more complex ones, is challenging, but she’s proud of what her students have accomplished and is grateful for the chance she’s had to help them find and shape the communities they want to belong to at UVA.

“I’ve learned so much,” Farrell said.  “I love making community with residents, but I also love the connections I’ve made with other RAs in Housing & Residence life.  I’ve made some amazing friends, and I’ll keep those relationships far beyond college.”


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