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Speaking out in Academia

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Meet this week's Grad Chat guest!

CW: Mentions of Eating Disorders

Hello! My name is Jaclyn (she/her), and I’m a PhD candidate at Western University, where I hold a doctoral fellowship in the Network for Economic and Social Trends. I’m a feminist social psychologist, and my research spans a variety of topics related to gender, sexuality, stigma, social justice, and mental health. My academic journey began at Villanova University in August 2013. But the journey was quickly interrupted in September 2013, when I learned that my mother had been diagnosed with ALS. To say I was distraught would be a gross understatement.

I became singularly focused on finishing college early so my mother could see me graduate. I joined labs and made myself a competitive candidate for grad school. I was admitted into Villanova’s MS program during my second year as an undergraduate, and I began my graduate studies in 2015, finishing the last semester of my undergraduate degree concurrently.

I was also managing an undiagnosed eating disorder at that time. I spent a lot of time with doctors, pretending to eat and wearing extra layers of clothes to deceive them. Then, on December 10th, 2015, I learned that my mother had died. My life, which had been stitched together by gossamer fibres of hope and my mother’s love, shattered. I let my illness consume me.

I was admitted into ED treatment in April 2016, and I spent 10 weeks eating sandwiches and talking about my feelings. I let myself lean into healing my relationship with my body and unlearning how to be a “good woman.” I practiced being angry and taking up space. It made other people feel uncomfortable. It made me feel powerful.

I was admitted into a PhD program in social psychology the following year, and I moved to Canada in 2017 to begin my doctoral studies. I continued speaking up, asking questions, and interrogating norms and expectations in academia, and I earned a reputation as a “mouthy feminist,” a title I wear with pride.

You can find me yelling on Twitter at @jacasiegel.


Jaclyn will takeover the PhD Balance Instagram today before appearing as our Grad Chat special guest with Fay to talk about Speaking Out in Academia. Join the Youtube Livestream on Saturday (12/05) using this link.

You can also now listen to all our Grad Chat episodes as a podcast, which is hosted on Anchor FM and available on all major streaming services!


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