It would be a feat, or rather a notable error, to say that you haven’t interacted with Christine Clarke ’18 during your time at Wes. Whether you know her from Rho Ep, as a board member of the Women of Color Collective, or even as an RA, Clarke’s remarkable passion and generosity has not gone unnoticed. The Argus sat down with Clark to discuss her love for WesBurlesque, how she came to be an Economics and Anthropology double-major, and her postgrad plans.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated as a WesCeleb?
Christine Clarke: Maybe because I’ve done a lot over the years. Probably too much!
A: What kind of things have you been involved with?
CC: I’m from Jamaica, and when I came I kind of joined the Caribbean Students’ Association, but it was more Caribbean-American, so I kind of left it. I joined the Wesleyan Entrepreneur Society because I thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur—I also taught a student forum for economic entrepreneurship. Sophomore year, I became [House Manager] of the Women of Color House and I became a board member of the Women of Color Collective. Also, sophomore spring I joined Rho Epsilon Pi, Wesleyan’s only sorority because I wanted to create a space for women of color in Rho Ep. I thought it wasn’t very diverse, and it was a good decision. Fall of my junior year, I became Chair of Social Justice in Rho Ep—I was also treasurer junior year. Junior year, I was also an RA in the Butterfields. And I’m the co-president of the Wesleyan Investment Group. So, yeah…I’ve kind of stretched myself a little thin.
A: Yeah, that’s so impressive! How have you managed being involved in so many different activities?
CC: I don’t know honestly. I mean it’s always been stuff that I’ve been really interested in and I’m really happy to have done all of it! I think right now is actually the time I’ve done the least amount of stuff—I’m trying to relax. I am writing a thesis right now, though!
A: Can you tell us about your thesis?
CC: Yeah! So, I’m an Economics and Anthropology double-major, but my thesis is for Anthro. I’m looking a lot at representations of Black women and what this historian calls the culture of dissemblance. I’m looking at silencing. I’m looking at representations of Black women across various media, examining the discourse around these representations and the politics of the “gaze.” It’s still coming together, but it’s going!
A: Why did you decide to major in Econ and Anthro?
CC: I liked Econ 101, I thought it was interesting. I thought Econ would be useful down the line and it turned out to be! Also, I like the quantitative side of things. And Anthro just felt really important and relatable. It’s very qualitative, so it’s like getting the best of both worlds.
A: Do you have any plans post-graduation?
CC: Yeah! So, last summer I interned in NYC at BlackRock, which is the largest asset manager in the world, in a really cool group called Financial Markets Advisory. I really liked it and I got a return offer, so that’s what I’ll be doing post-grad.
A: Very cool! So, how have you been spending your last couple of months at Wes?
CC: I’ve been spending it trying to hang out with the wonderful people that I know here! Also, giving back, because a lot of people who are doing finance and econ here want advice on interviewing, so I spend time with them and tell them how the recruitment process goes, stuff like that. And then doing my thesis of course. Oh and also I’m the director of WesBurlesque!
A: Can you elaborate on WesBurlesque?
CC: Burlesque is really what you want it to be! It celebrates sex and sexuality. It’s about body positivity. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s changed a lot over the years—like, my freshman year, I didn’t even audition. It was a lot of the same body types, not very diverse at all. Then, sophomore year, I did try out and it was better, but it was still a lot of dancers, so people who are very trained in one type of dancing. And now, it’s evolved to the point where out of all the directors this year, none of us are part of a dance group. I don’t think that’s ever happened, so it’s in a better place. It’s going to be a great show! It’s May 4, 5 and 6, just putting that out there…
A: So, going back to all the activities you’ve been involved with, are there any particular things you felt most passionate about?
CC: I feel like they’ve all helped me grow in so many different ways. I really loved being one of the leaders in the Women of Color Collective because I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many women of color who are underclassmen and give them advice and really connect. Also, Rho Ep was great, meeting a different set of people and networking. WesBurlesque is wonderful! I’ve danced all my life and I’ve never done anything like this show. It’s a community. It’s not just doing it for the audience—you’re doing it for yourself. It’s not even just the show that’s the big deal, it’s the process. It’s very intimate in that, in between shows, we share things with each other, we cry, it’s really wonderful.
A: Aside from school-related activities, are there any other things you’re passionate about?
CC: So, I’m very passionate about supporting survivors. I tried to do a lot of that work when I was an RA, putting on programs related to consent and just trying to create a space where people feel comfortable to talk about their experiences and feel supported. I think we also try to do that in our social justice committee in Rho Ep—just wherever I can to create a space where people are comfortable to share. I’m not formally a part of any kind of network, but I hope that Wes will be a safer place for survivors, and really all students in general. Also, I’m certified in makeup—I did that my senior year of high school. So, I do people’s makeup for graduation, Valentine’s Day, whenever they need it. I love it, it’s a fun skill to have!
A: How do you think you’ve changed since freshman year, if you’ve changed at all.
CC: Oh, wow, I think I’ve changed a lot! I came in thinking that college was a lot more serious than it is. Not to say that it isn’t serious, but I came in thinking there was all these things and classes I had to take. For some reason when I first came to Wes, I was hell-bent on physics. That ended quickly. I’ve learned a lot about people and about choosing your friends wisely, making sure that the people you surround yourself with have the same values. Just that it’s important to always surround yourself with people who have positive energy. I’ve become more aware about people.
A: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
CC: Hmm, maybe if I had come in not having my mind set on being a physics major, I would have been open to taking different classes earlier on, but I did learn that pretty quickly, after first semester I was like “no.” I think maybe being wiser about the people I choose to surround myself with would have been good. I don’t know though, I feel like everything has truly been a great learning opportunity.
A: Do you have any parting wisdom?
CC: I think set goals. They don’t have to be specific—be open to trying new things! Have fun, balance is everything. Just because it works for your friends doesn’t mean it will work for you. Keep those people in your life who are constantly positive, constantly uplifting. That’s who you need.
Claudia Stagoff-Belfort can be reached at email@example.com.