Monday, May 20, 2024

Wilcox teaches, travels, thrives

Plattsburgh State senior history and adolescent education major Steffaney Wilcox’s passion for learning goes the distance from Plattsburgh to India.

During the summer of 2014, Wilcox traveled to India with members of the gender and women’s studies department and other students after declaring a gender and women’s studies minor.

“It was a really amazing experience,” she said “We got a chance to go to the women’s national congress.”

After the trip Wilcox knew she wanted to take more classes in the department, so she turned her gender and women’s studies minor into a second major.

Gender and women’s studies professor and department chair Dr. Susan Mody traveled to India with Wilcox.

“She was the youngest member of our group and I remember that I didn’t know her very well at that point, so I had some concerns,” she said. “It’s a lot to take on, traveling itself, and especially traveling to a place like India.”

After reading her application essay for the trip Mody was impressed by Wilcox’s passion, enthusiasm and background.

“She wasn’t new to the idea of gender and women’s studies, she wasn’t new to the idea of traveling the world to learn,” she said. “And she wasn’t new to the ideas, goals and motivations that we were engaged with.”

Mody said because Wilcox embraced every opportunity she was given on the trip and demonstrated a strong desire to learn, she thinks that Wilcox was one of the students that got the most out of the trip.

Mody serves as the faculty advisor for the Center for Women’s Concerns and worked with Wilcox during her time as president.

Wilcox is also a member of the Triota Honor Society on campus.

“It’s still a relatively young organization,” Mody said. “Steffaney isn’t a founding member , but has been involved from early in the process.”

Senior communications disorders and sciences major Justine Bonilla met Wilcox through the Center for Women’s Concerns. She served as vice president of the organization while Wilcox was president.

“Being the president of a club can be a lot of work, so I was there to alleviate some of her stress,” she said. “We were always working together and hanging out, so that’s how our friendship started.”

Bonilla described Wilcox as a caring and bubbly individual and said those qualities are what she believes led to their friendship.

“She definitely works well as a leader but also encourages teamwork,” Bonilla said. “She might not always be the one delegating things, but she knows how to step back and let the democracy work.”

Bonilla believes that attitude is what draws Wilcox to working with issues involving social justice.

“She isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” she said. “She is very intelligent. I’m still in shock sometimes with some of the magic that comes out of her mouth.”

Wilcox said her experiences in many different organizations during her time in Plattsburgh has changed her perspective.

“I think it’s definitely opened my mind to how people interact with their college experience,” she said.

Wilcox said she sees how diverse the PSUC campus is, but thinks it can be viewed as intersectional.

“We have a lot of issues with “ism’s” on this campus,” she said. “But I think there are definitely a bunch of groups that are trying to change that.”

Wilcox said she receives support from her mother and said she thanks her parent for raising her in an environment where asking why things are the way that they are is encouraged.

“I think it’s definitely led me to become more involved in social justice issues. Be more empathetic to people’s problems and issues and not just think about myself and what affects me but how it affects others as well.”

Wilcox was the president of the Center for Women’s Concerns last year and holds the secretary position this semester. Wilcox said the club hosts events that are centered around education, something that she is very passionate about.

“Education is so important,” she said. “That’s how you can change a society and change a culture.”

Wilcox has also been a member of the outing club. Through the club Wilcox has been on hiking and skiing outings.

Wilcox is also a member of Rotaract, a Rotary-sponsored service club.

Rotary clubs are for members of communities who have an interest in community service and global exchange, according to

Wilcox said the organization puts a strong emphasis on community service and inspiring young leaders.

“It’s important because all of the young people here will be the future CEO’s and business people and teachers,” she said.

Wilcox said her inspiration to teach came from her eighth grade social studies teacher.

“We just did a lot of different activities that made history relevant to my life.”

Wilcox’s passion for travel and learning abroad led her to declaring cultural anthropology and international studies minors.

Because of her major and minors, Wilcox desire for knowledge is fed by the wide variety anthropology, geography and history classes she takes.

“I took Inside Israeli culture and society, and that was very interesting,” she said.

Wilcox said although her majors may seem unrelated, she sees the ties that bring them all together. One very clear connection to her is the links between history and anthropology.

“With history, we’re looking at how societies were created. Anthropology is the study of culture and how it’s manifested throughout time and how it’s created and what not,” she said.

In the future, Wilcox hopes to be a well-traveled history teacher, educating the future leaders of tomorrow.

“Education is so important,” she said. “That’s how you can change a society and change a culture.”

Email Madison Winters at

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