Senior Seminar Summary Synthesis… Try Saying That 5 Times Fast!

This is it. This is for all of the marbles. The last post. The “what did you accomplish after all this time”? So here we go!

I entered this major about 5 months ago. I know you think I am crazy, and you are right, because this was a lot of work for one semester. Both the intro class and the seminar class together is a lot to handle. But because of the support of my classmates and fellow IDSers I got it done!

Building my program backwards was a lot easier than I thought it

would be. I had a large interest in health (hence the prior health education major) and I had taken many of the classes in the Women’s Studies minor. So basically I just put the two together. That was the only easy part. I still had to get approved and figure out which classes I was going to include into my contract.

The Feisty Feminist Herself

I settled on a program of Women’s Health. With my general focus being on feminism and childbirth. I am and always have been very interested in the birthing experience.

Senior Seminar was unlike any other class I have ever taken. So much of my education was up to me. I had choice and that was amazing. When learning about the Applied Project I had so many ideas. I settled on a feminist movement project. I tweeted every day in the month of March interviewing a different person on feminism and their views of it.  I interviewed all sorts of people. I interviewed my family, peers, professors, coworkers, even strangers! Anyone I met I wanted to know what they thought about feminism. This was a truly interdisciplinary project in general. I used technology (twitter), communication skills (interviewing), women’s studies (feminism) just to name a few different disciples. This contributed to me as a student and as a feminist. I figured out what I truly believed in and that is not something I can really say about the pre calculus class that I took.

My Research Article I was not as passionate about as my Applied Project. It’s not that I wasn’t excited about childbirth as much as I once was, it was that I am not a “research writer”.

It is just a skill that I was never really good with. Anyways, I researched the different kinds of childbirths. Where can you have a baby? Who can be there? What kind of professional can I have there? Are epidurals dangerous? What is the right choice? And the answer is that there is no wrong or right way someone chooses to have their baby. I did and still do want to be a doula or midwife one day and that’s why I wanted to know all of these answers. Because no two births are the same, being able to hear and read different women’s stories really taught me a lot and solidified this life choice.

Happy Ayla!!!

The things that I have learned in the last 5 months are unlike anything else. IDS came to me during a really tough time in my life. I was going to counseling on a triweekly basis, I wasn’t eating or sleeping, I really hated myself and that is really hard to admit. I hated where my life was and what I was doing. Then I found my hope. I wanted to feel like my education and time here was worth it all. I wanted to walk across that stage and feel like this wasn’t a

waste of my time or life. And I can say that this is true. I will be graduating on Saturday and I am proud. I am proud of myself and that is all I need. So to say that this class and these two assignments contributed to my growth and education would be an understatement.


“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies”

Childbirth. We are all here because of it. Mothers describe it as the most painful and amazing days of their lives. Yes, that is correct, I said days. My mother was in labor for two whole days. I feel like childbirth is not something that our society talks about regularly. We have made it

become such a clinical thing. We almost treat pregnancy as something that needs to be treated, all of the doctors, medications, and hand sanitizer to make this process as efficient and painless. You have 36 hours to have this “magical” experience. The welcoming white walls and cold air greet you at the door.

Since we are diving into the logistics of childbirth here are some key terms to know. First thing you need is a Mommy and a Daddy… alright that’s not where this is going, but yes in order to have a baby those are some instrumental players. So there is a couple different types of births and people that deliver those babies.

At home birth, water births, birthing centers and hospitals!

At home births are just that, at home. This, if planned, is in an approved and comfortable space for the family and the deliver. This can happen on a couch, bed, floor, pretty much any place that the mother is comfortable and safe. There is the occasional situation when a baby is born at home on accident because there wasn’t enough time to get to the desired location. But planned at home births are just as safe as anywhere else. The deliver will have all of the things they would need for a safe and according to plan birth. If an emergency were to arise or complication were to happen the mother would be brought to a hospital. Also the mother must clear certain criteria before an at home birth can happen. If a mother has a history of health issues or is older in age it is usually not recommended to have a child at home.

Next leads us into water births. And again it is just that, a birth in water. This happens a number of different ways. It could be in a bathtub or sometimes a birthing pool. The birthing pool is ideal because it can be relocated and the deliver can walk around the entire area. My cousin Marina actually had all three of her children this way. What is really cool is that the baby gets clean at the same time. It’s like skipping a step! Birthing centers also usually have this option.

A birthing center is a place where you can have your baby that isn’t a hospital or your house. Again, like with at home births or water births, the mother must be healthy enough to have a child outside of a hospital to utilize this option. They are usually very peaceful places with comfortable furniture and a nice waiting room. It is much more personalized and private for the families using them.

The most common location to have a baby is in a hospital. We should all know what a hospital is, but if you haven’t ever been to the nursery wing it is still pretty great! There are friendly nurses faces and knowledgeable staff at had. Each mother usually (at least in the United States) will get her own room, but it is much less personalized because once that mother leaves the next one comes in.

Now time for the delivers!

We have the OBGYN. This is the doctor who’s degree is in birthing babies. OBGYN stands for Obstetrics and Gynecology. So much easier than that mouthful to say. It is commonly known as an OB as well, because why not abbreviate and aberration?! Women will go see an OB for yearly check ups, pap smears and regular lady health needs. To become an OB it takes quite a few years of schooling because they are medical doctors.

Midwives and Doulas are also trained professionals in childbirth. Midwives are of a more natural and holistic approach to the birthing process. Their schooling is not as formal, in the sense that they do not need to have their doctorates. There is an apprenticeship process as well as schooling and a certificate that must be completed before one can become a licensed midwife. The same can be said about a doula, except a doula is more of the support system to a mother before, during and after her birthing experience. A doula does not do the actual delivering part, that is the difference between the two.

And lastly the different types of births. We covered that there are different locations to have a baby, but not what choices to not choices one has when giving birth. The thing I have heard the most is “did you have drugs?”. This means was an epidural. This is a pain suppressant that is given into the spine of the mother. If someone says that they had a natural birth means that they did not have an epidural.

There are some thoughts that epidurals can cause some negative side effects for newborns, but according to many studies it is currently not proven. Epidurals are a safe pain reducer in childbirth.

There are also some things that can’t be planned or in some cases planned. This is a caesarean section birth, commonly known as a C-Section. In instances of preeclampsia or other health concerns for the mother or baby a C-Section will be scheduled. But they are at times used when there is an unforeseen complication or birthing difficulties. This is referred to as an emergency C-Section.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well it also takes a village to bring a child into this world. And in that village we have experts of all sorts. So many different things have to play out to have a safe childbirth. So many things are happening to the mother before, during and after the birth, hormonally and mentally (health, biology, psychology). There are the medical professionals that help bring that baby into this world safely and keep them healthy after (medical). And we have the educators that not only educate the parents on what the experiences will be like, but then the children after the 6 weeks of maternity leave when they enter into the child care area. All of these experts of different disciplines come together to see the miracle of life play out.

When I told my mother about this paper she was more than excited to know more about it. And that got me thinking, why not just interview some mothers out there about their birthing experiences? I called her back the following night and asked her if she was interested.

The story of how my sister and I were born was nothing new for me. Like me, my sister is kinda obsessed with childbirth, and we would ask my mom often to tell us the stories of when we were born. My mom doesn’t even hesitate by setting the seen of the cold February day when her and my dad went to the hospital. But I treated this like I had never heard the stories before and was interested in hearing what she had to say this time around.


  • Katherine Steere
Katherine with her daughters Erin (L) and Ayla (R) 2016

How old were you when you had your first child?

  • I was 35 when I had my first child, Ayla. I was a “late bloomer” if you will.

How old were you when you had your second child?

  • With Erin I was 40. Also a little later than planned, but I was older and had learned so much that it was almost easier.

Did you have your children in a hospital setting?

  • Because of my age I had to have the girls in a hospital, but I didn’t necessarily want it that way.

What was your prenatal experience?

  • Both times my prenatal care was amazing. My OB had midwives under them in their practice. So I met monthly with my midwife and she used so many of the holistic practices that I was looking for. Everything there was very Zen. When I was pregnant with Erin, Ayla was allowed in the room with me and we were able to share a lot of really special moments together.

Did you go to the hospital for your monthly checkups?

Ayla, Katherine and Baby Erin 2000
  • I went to my OBGY’s for my monthly checkups, but saw a midwife

Did you have an OBGYN and a nurse or a midwife?

  • An OB is who was there for the birthing part along with nurses. My second birth was an emergency c section so there was a whole team of people taking care of me. I had a midwife up until the birth, because I was older they were worried that something would go wrong, so they wanted me in a hospital just in case.

What was your experience like during the birthing process?

Loud, peaceful, exciting, long…ect

  • Ayla took days. I decided to have a natural birthing experience with no drugs and the bird chirping music, but 36 hours of that was pretty much hell. When it came to the birth part there was a lot of yelling from the nurses and a lot going on which wasn’t my favorite. With Erin she was a week late and didn’t want to come out, so I had an emergency c section to get her out. What was nice about that was I just had to lay there and the days that followed I had a lot of help from the nurses.

Do you wish that the experience was different? If so, why?

  • Both were amazing in their own way, but I do wish that I could have done a natural birth with Erin
    Ayla (L) and Erin (R) Christmas 2001

    and have it be safe. I do also wish I could have had the girls delivered by a midwife, but again because of my age we didn’t want to take any chances.

Who was with you while you were giving birth?

  • My husband

What type of support did you receive during the birthing process?

  • My parents were in the waiting room most of the days along with my sisters. The nurses were amazing and my OB was very patient.

Did you know about midwifery during your child birthing experiences?

  • Yes

What type of post birth care did you receive?

  • I returned to the clinic for my monthly checkups along with my girls for theirs. It was a mother and children’s center.

I also figured, why just have this one fabulous Momma tell her stories… make it two! So I got to talking one afternoon with a Plymouth State University employee in the Global Education Office. She was asking about senior year and through the panicked look in my eyes of not wanting to finish here, I told her about my capstone. She was really excited and without even asking if I could interview she was volunteering.

Your name:  Jane Barry

How old were you when you had your first child?

  • I was 27 when I had Tom.

How old were you when you had your second child?

Jane with her sons Tom (L) and Nate (R) 2016
  • And 32 for Nate.

Did you have your children in a hospital setting?

  • Yes

What was your prenatal experience?

  • Went to birthing class, along with OBGYN visits

Did you go to the hospital for your monthly checkups?

  • No, went to OBGYN

Did you have an OBGYN and a nurse or a midwife?

  • Just OBGYN

What was your experience like during the birthing process?

  • Loud, peaceful, exciting, long…ect First baby was 12-15 hrs (don’t really remember!), my water didn’t break so they had to in hospital.  It was fairly peaceful because I really tried to do meditative and deep breathing.  Second baby was exciting in that my water broke at 12:30am and he was born exactly at 2:00am.  We raced to the hospital, ran into the ward, ripped my clothes off, went to bathroom and Nate was born 5 minutes later.  OBGYN wasn’t even there yet; I still remember the nurse yelling at the top of her lungs for the other nurses to assist.  My husband had black and blue finger prints on his forearm from me squeezing him so tight I had NO DRUGS with either birth

Do you wish that the experience was different? If so, why?

  • No.  Both were different but wonderful.

Who was with you while you were giving birth?

  • Husband

What type of support did you receive during the birthing process?

  • Nurses, husband, OBGYN at first one coaching

Did you know about midwifery during your child birthing experiences?

  • Yes

What type of post birth care did you receive?

  • Just the typical follow up, nothing out of the ordinary.

Both women taught me so much about childbirth, more than I could have even asked for. This has just solidified what I plan on doing with my life and career in the future. No one way is the “best” way to have a child. Each birth is magical and special in its own way, and it is truly left up to the families on how they want their child to be welcomed into the world.


Burtch, B. E. (1994). Trials of labour : The re-emergence of midwifery (Critical perspectives on public affairs; Critical perspectives on public affairs). Montreal Que.: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Magill-Cuerden, J. (2006). Nurturing and supporting mothers: A hidden skill in midwifery. (Cover story). British Journal Of Midwifery14(6), 374.

Moyer, M. W. (2012). Weighing the Risks. Scientific American306(5), 22.

Torpy, J. M., Lynm, C., & Glass, R. M. (2005). Childbirth. JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association293(17), 2180.

Walsh, D. (2009). Labour pain and epidurals: tampering with the pain–pleasure paradox. British Journal Of Midwifery17(8), 482.

Feminism Man

Hello All!

As you might have noticed, the month of March was very busy for me. I took my communication skills and upbeat attitude to the streets to talk about feminism. Throughout that month I interview a new person or persons every day on their thoughts regarding feminism. This was mainly to draw some attention or traction to the lovely rheum of twitter that

feminism is not dead, it affects people of all walks of life, and inequality if still prevalent.

My daily tweets opened the doors for conversation among my peers, co-workers, and professors. This project has really uncovered some truths for people, and for myself.

I have 31 tweets (add a few in for the longer tweets) and some blog posts about this experience. Being able to go out and talk to so may different walks of life about what I am truly passionate about was an experience I will never forget. This project did more than affect the community (I hope that happened) it really affected me.

Some of my highlights included, but are not limited to, 1) talking to strangers about feminism. When you are talking to someone you have never met before you never know what is going to happen. There is a 50/50 chance that they will not have the same views as you. 2) Starting new conversations with friends and families. This was interesting as well because you think that you know the people that surround you all of the time, but sometimes the answer isn’t always what you expect. 3) Learning about what my true beliefs are. I always considered myself a feminist, but this project really affirmed it.

Why did I do this project you ask? Well I wanted to highlight Women’s History Month in a trendy new way. Twitter seemed like a really cool way to convey this message. I wanted to be able to figure out where I stood on so many issues starting with this one. Also my program in Interdisciplinary Studies is Women’s Health, which this project tried to encompass these multiple disciplines.

So much of the time when I saw things about feminism it was very one sided. There is either a woman with a sign, burning her bra in front of a state house or a prim and proper woman saying that they are not oppressed. I wanted to promote the message that this is not always the case!

But, here are is my interview with fellow feminist, Cassidy Spencer.

And secondly is my personal reflection on the project and what it did for me.

I really hope that my peers learned from my tweet a days! This was really fun for me and I learned so much.

But Ayla, how am I supposed to find all of your tweet

interviews? Do I have to go through your twitter to find them all?

The answer is nope! All of my tweets have been put into a wonderful slideshow like model for your enjoyment and viewing purposes!

Wait, I get to take my final home???

Coming into IDS as a senior in my last semester was definitely interesting. Coming into such a tight knit group of people that are all so passionate was surely intimidating, but everyone welcomed me with open arms. They all got excited to follow me on twitter, retweeting my feminism posts and tagging me in things they thought I would enjoy. I didn’t really know what this course would be like. If you said the words Open Pedagogy or Open Education I would have looked at you with a furrowed brow and promptly would have googled it. I thought this class was just about building your program and that was pretty much it.

When I first started I figured Interdisciplinary was a hodgepodge of different courses, subjects and disciplines that seemly had nothing to do

My Graduation Card

with each other, but somehow all worked together. At first I was really worried that my major would not count in “the real world” which is terrible to say, because I am finally doing what I want to do. But now my concept of IDS is so much bigger and better than before. I am not worried, but proud of what I did in my short time here. My definition is still the same as before, but with a much more positive spin.

Having a class literally be Open was so strange to me. Having choice was so bazaar. Being proud of my work was different. Posting our work to the world wide web was an experience. The things that I was saying was out there for the world to see. People were reading what I had to say, and they were appreciating it and reading it, commenting on it, and even rebloging it. I felt proud of my education for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t just completing an assignment for the grade, but I was allowed to put my voice into everything that I wrote about. Open Education is so interesting. Writing the textbook chapters really let me use my creativity and my love for lesson plan writing to help with the future of the program. That is one of the best experiences that I can take from this course. Also learning about ePorts and blogging was a blast. I am not tech savvy by any means and to have several people tell me that my blog was awesome or beautiful meant so much. Being able to connect with other professionals across the country was truly amazing.

I think that interdisciplinary should matter to universities because it really involves the student with the education that they are paying for. Having a hands on approach where students make the connection and discover themselves is so instrumental in a students growth and education. I am not the same student or even the same person that I was 12 weeks ago. The things that I have learned in the last semester will stay with me for the rest of my life as an educator, but I can’t say the same thing about that one assignment that was needed for me to pass composition about a topic that I will never remember.

My hopes for the future could go on for posts and posts. I want to be a successful school counselor. I want to get my doctorate in human development. I want to have a family. I want to be happy. I want to learn how to live with my anxiety and not have it control my every move. I want to teach and be a support to my students. I want to love and be loved.

Clusters in general are a huge move for the university. But I can see them helping and hurting the IDS program. I hope that it is the helping part. IDS is a resource that the university can use to strengthen the Clusters Approach. I hope that IDS stays a family and a unified force

Taken from

through this, but also be open minded. Think about it… at one point IDS was thought to be something crazy and bad for the university. It’s seen as a last resort or a “made up major”, give Clusters a chance and believe in your university and education. Be proud.

Dan Spearman: The Hidden Hero at PSU

Photo Courtesy of Dan

I have known Dan since the first day he moved to campus. In January of 2014 I was at an open skate night at the Ice Arena where I bumped into a seemingly lost looking boy with brown hair and a sweatshirt that read Plymouth State University across his chest. He was skating close to the railing with anticipation of falling as he got aquatinted with the ice. He was skating with my friend Dylan, who I later found out was his newly assigned roommate. Little did I know that Dan was going to be one of my best friends I have ever made, but also such a key asset to the place that we both call home, Plymouth State.

Dan and I lived together our sophomore year in the student apartments, breaking down barriers is kinda Dan’s thing. While living there Dan really came into his own. He worked for the Global Education Office and found his true passion for international studies and justice for all. His first semester of college Dan traveled to Ireland where he was able to take classes and travel all over Europe. That experience is what led him to work for GEO. Since then Dan has traveled with PSU to Cuba, Ireland again, Italy, London, Montreal and now to Thailand this summer.

But this isn’t why I am writing about Dan for this post. Dan has spearheaded a truly interdisciplinary project right here on campus.

Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day that we already celebrate here in America, known as Columbus Day. A few years ago Dr. Robin DeRosa had gone through the process of changing this day to be recognized by the university as Fall Holiday. But Dan didn’t think that this was acceptable. “This is something that just needs to happen. This is not enough. Justice needs to given to the peoples who’s lives were lost over the years.”

Now let’s talk about the process of this seemly “simple” name change. So here we go!

Photo from Dan’s presentation

First Dan did a bunch of research on the town of Plymouth and the surrounding communities. He found out some pretty interesting history.


So basically there was a massacre right here in the town of Plymouth. A man with the last name Baker and his men murdered a bunch of the Pemigewasset Indians. Of course we then named the river that flows right into the Pemi River after the man who killed them all. Dan contacted the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter who had installed the plaque. Note that this plaque is on a rock tucked away, and chances are that you, just like me, did not know about this at all. This is right around the corner from our school.

Dan then drafted a resolution proposal for the Student Senate. He and I worked together to make sure the proper chain of events happened. Because this had to do with calendar change there were a lot of people that needed to approve this.

Resolution Proposal 

The Student Senate’s process takes about two weeks. The first week you propose the resolution using somewhat uncomfortable language to get your point across. Then the senate has one week to revise the proposal to make change suggestions. The next week is when the vote happens. Dan gave his presentation and provided the senate with the edited resolution. The final results were that the Student Senate passed and approved of the resolution and sent Dan on his way to the next body.

Dan then gave the same exact presentation to Faculty Senate. He said they were really excited about this change since New Hampshire is the only New England state that does not recognize Indigenous Peoples in any way. The Faculty Senate unanimously passed the resolution.

Now we are on to PAT Senate. PAT also unanimously passed the resolution and fully supported the calendar change. Previously he had met with the Campus Inclusion and Diversity group, where he was encouraged greatly to present to all of the senates on campus. OS is the last body to vote on the resolution via email, and things are looking very good.

Photo Courtesy of Dan

Next week Dan is meeting with the President’s Cabinet for the final results.

This project combined so many different offices, disciplines and fields of study. History, Peace and Social Justice, Student Senate, Faculty and Staff and pretty much the entire Plymouth State Campus worked together to make this happen. And I can say that I hope to see IPD on next years academic calendar.

Dan will be graduating this May with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with two minors, Peace and Social Justice and Biology. Thank you Dan for your continuous contributions to the campus.