Caitlyn Kennedy knew she wanted to attend UC Merced when she was in the eighth grade and the now-thriving campus was just a barren field.
She watched a presentation about the proposed UC campus at her middle school in Frazier Park, a tiny town about an hour south of Bakersfield. In high school, out of a graduating class of 100 (the largest class ever), she was the only student accepted at a UC. Actually, she was the only one who applied. She had ambitions beyond her hometown.
Kennedy, 20, is co-president of the
University Women of Merced Network. She joined the group after hearing about a group of girls willing to act in “The Vagina Monologues.”
“I don’t think I’ve missed a meeting yet,” she said.
The struggle for women’s rights is not over, Kennedy says. She said she believes the past three generations have made tremendous progress: first, for women’s suffrage; then for the right to work and be independent; and now for the right to choose whether to be a working mom or a CEO.
“I feel the most important issue facing young women today is the pressure to be a feminist and yet be the traditional woman as well,” said Kennedy, who will be a junior this fall. “It is extremely hard for a woman to balance her life, to be all that she can be and more… I still think women fear being stereotyped and under-appreciated.”
She said she has found several mentors among UC Merced’s
Writing Programstaff and faculty.
“They are fabulous, quirky, crazy, fun-loving, knowledgeable and insightful,” she says.
When not working on her feminist play, she paints, draws, and drives the Merced back roads - going off-road as well.
A communications major, Kennedy’s future plans include running a center for raped and molested women, as well as working in public relations.
“I love this school,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to be creative or reinvent yourself at this school and in the community - and maybe even make history!”