KUWomenofDistinction

Alesha E. Doan, Ph.D.

Alesha E. Doan, Ph.D.

Peer Reviewed Articles:

  • “Giving Girls a Shot: An Examination of Mandatory Vaccination Legislation,” with Kellee Kirkpatrick. Policy Studies Journal, May 2013 41(2).
  • “Saying No to Abstinence-Only Education: An Analysis of State Decision-Making,” with Deborah McFarlane. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Fall 2012 42(4): 613-635.
  • “What’s Wrong with Sexy?” Why Political Science Needs to Get Serious about Sexuality.” PS: Political Science & Politics, 2011 44(1): 31-34.
  • “The Role of Intersectional Stereotypes on Evaluations of Political Candidates,” with Don Haider-Markel. Politics & Gender, 2010 6(1): 63-91.

Honors, achievements, and special recognition:

  • Ms. Magazine Scholarship, from Ms. Writers’ Workshop for Feminist Scholars (2010)
  • Outstanding Faculty Member Nomination, from the College of Liberal Arts Student Council, California Polytechnic State University (2004)
  • Woman of the Year Nomination, from the Women’s Center, California Polytechnic University (2004)
  • Outstanding Faculty Member, from the College of Liberal Arts Student Council, California Polytechnic State University (2003)

How I became interested in my area of study:

I grew up around many strong women whose lives were significantly influenced by the absence of reproductive rights and reproductive health education. I also grew up occasionally overhearing murmurs and whispers about family members who “got into trouble”…an aunt who could not have children because she had a botched illegal abortion in the 1960s that left her alive, but rendered her infertile. Another aunt who had to get married because she was pregnant even though she did not love the man. As a child, I thought these were some of the worst and unfair fates to fall on a woman, and I had a difficult time understanding why societal limitations were put on women’s choices but not men’s choices.

These messages resonated with me and I frequently gravitated toward issues of reproductive rights. As an adolescent growing up in the 1980s and early 90s, I watched in disbelief as the Supreme Court started upholding the restrictions on abortion services that were being legislated in the states, and my disbelief continued to grow when Operation Rescue’s Summer of Mercy tour unfolded on the nightly news. I simply did not believe that these legislative and protest actions were fair or just. Unfortunately, it is a feeling I continue to be intimately familiar with in 2013.

During my undergraduate education I explored many areas of study but my interests continued to return to reproductive policy and justice. I always loved academics and by my senior year of college I realized (with some help from an influential professor I had the privilege of taking a class from my junior year) I could wed my love of interdisciplinary education with my commitment to reproductive justice by pursuing academics as a career.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:

Receiving the 2012 Outstanding Young Professional Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA) is a very meaningful award to me. Most of my research has had an interdisciplinary application. However, conducting interdisciplinary research poses significant challenges. Despite some of these obstacles, I have pursued this line of research during my career because I believe in the utility of it. The APHA’s award symbolizes my dedication to interdisciplinary studies and recognizes the contribution of my research in multiple disciplines and fields.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

I have had many role models – some who I have known a long time and others I have never met. However, the most important role model for me has been my mother. At every stage of my life she has been an inspiration, as well as a source of strength and hope. I try to model her openness, honesty, empathy, and willingness to learn in my professional and personal life.

My mom was raised in a rural mining town during a time period when women had few career options outside of marriage and motherhood. Like many young women, my mother received no education about menstruation, sex, pregnancy or childbirth. As a young mother, she decided that she would not raise her six children in ignorance or fear of sexual health, and from a very early age, my siblings and I were well versed about reproductive health. My mom also stressed the importance of being educated and financially independent before ever considering marriage or having children because she did not have the benefit of either before getting married as an 18 year old woman. By her early thirties, the circumstances of my mom’s life had changed; she had six small children that she needed to financially support. My mother faced this challenge by putting herself through college, while working full time and raising her children so that she could achieve financial stability and independence for her family. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree and has been a lifelong learner and educator. Rather than waiting for life to provide different circumstances, my mom actively made choices that turned adversity into opportunity. My mom has always lived the values she taught her children and for this, among many other reasons, my mom continues to be my role model today.

My favorite KU memory:

I don’t have one favorite KU memory, but I have a recurring favorite KU memory! My favorite time of the year is graduation. Participating in graduation ceremonies and end-of-the year banquets brings me tremendous joy. Every graduating student has a story filled with successes and set-backs, and emotional ups and downs. Graduation is a time to celebrate the ingenuity, perseverance and accomplishments of each student and the families and friends who have contributed to their success. I continue to feel honored and privileged to be a part of this special moment for KU’s graduating students.

When times get tough, something that helps me get through it:

I am an optimistic and hopeful person by nature. When times are tough I think to myself, “things will get better and I will learn from this experience.” I also lean on my family and friends, take stock of my priorities, and try to find the levity in the situation. Having a sense of humor is a “must have” tool for rough times – especially when it comes to myself! If I can laugh at myself, I can typically find a workable solution forward through a rough patch.

An important life lesson I have learned:

Courage does not mean the absence of fear. It means taking action despite being afraid.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know…

Silence is the enemy of equality. Find your voice in the classroom, among your friends and in your relationships.

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.”

This quote stands out in my mind because it reminds us that most of our lives come down to choices that we have the ability to influence. While we don’t have control over certain circumstances and events in life, we always have a choice about how we respond to adversity, how we interpret life, and whether we want to apply our experiences to help make a more just society.