Abigail recently was named Director of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at the University of Virginia. She can draw a line connecting her Chestnut Hill College education with this accomplishment.
“My firm philosophical commitment to women’s issues is rooted in my own undergraduate years at CHC, which convinced me of the importance of preparing young women to be the strong leaders our changing world needs for the future,” she says.
“When I think of my core group of friends from those years, we all came in with an image of ourselves and our future that in retrospect was so much smaller than what we’ve accomplished. Each of us has so much more expansive of a life than we had dreamed of as incoming freshmen, and I credit this richness to our time at CHC.”
This position is far from her first foray into women’s issues. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Associate Director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame, and earned her Ph.D. in literature with a graduate minor in gender studies from that institution.
She has written a just-released book, “Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature,” and has written several articles and book chapters examining mothering practices as well as how Irish and Caribbean women writers understand the figure of the Good Mother in their writing. Currently, she is co-editing two books about mothering issues.
The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center offers resources that support the wellbeing of women and men of the university community as well as members of the local community. She is excited by her new role, saying, “The Women’s Center has the programming and resources to lead a sustained conversation about the impact of gender norms on our individual lives. It’s my goal to foster an environment that addresses the particular needs of women students outside the classroom and serves as a tool for students to engage with gender justice and social change movements.”
Staff members also mentor students through learning and leadership opportunities that combine service work with classroom studies of gender equity and other social justice issues.
Palko said in an interview with the University of Virginia’s publication, UVAToday:
“I earned my undergraduate degree at Chestnut Hill College, which was an all-women’s college when I attended. We didn’t have a women’s center – because the whole campus was our women’s center! I am the woman I am today because of the mentorship and example of the faculty and my fellow students that I was so privileged to experience. It brings me great personal and professional satisfaction to step into this position now; it feels like returning to my roots.”