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October 2, 2006

Feminist studies major makes cover of Ms. magazine

By Jennifer McNulty

It was Diana Tsuchida’s first day as an intern with the Feminist Majority Foundation, so when a manager took her aside and asked if she would consider posing for the cover of Ms. magazine, she didn’t hesitate.

Magazine cover

Diana Tsuchida on the cover of Ms. and at UCSC

Diana Tsuchida

“Their plans had fallen through, and they needed someone that day,” recalled Tsuchida, a UCSC senior majoring in feminist studies. “The managing editor told me they were looking for someone who looked ‘modern’ and ‘racially ambiguous.’ It was my first day, so I said, ‘Okay.’ ”

They did the shoot that afternoon, e-mailing proofs from the photographer’s studio to the publisher’s East Coast offices, and next thing she knew, Tsuchida was on the cover of the Summer 2006 issue of Ms. magazine, available at newsstands around the world. Tsuchida is pictured with a gasoline pump held to her head to illustrate the cover story, “Crude Awakening: How U.S. War Policies Sell Out Women in Favor of Big Oil.”

“It was weird. I’d never read the magazine, so I wasn’t very invested in it. It didn’t really hit me until I started to get calls from my family and friends,” said Tsuchida, a San Jose native.

With that auspicious beginning, the internship was a major success. One of only 19 college students selected from across the United States and Canada, Tsuchida helped with the foundation’s grassroots organizing efforts, including mobilizing against a November ballot initiative in California that would require parental notification before a minor could seek an abortion. “The foundation focuses on the youth vote, so we did student voter registration and got campaign materials to campus organizations,” said Tsuchida.

It was the kind of hands-on activism that satisfies Tsuchida’s yearning for social justice, a desire that drove her choice of major at UCSC.

“For me, feminist studies is a way to understand the inner workings of society,” said Tsuchida. “Now I have this tool to use my whole life to understand the ways people are disadvantaged, why some people are advantaged, and how intertwined those forces are. What’s great about the major is that it’s not just a way to learn about society, but we also learn how to combat those forces.”

At UCSC, Tsuchida works 11 hours a week as a writing assistant, a job she’s had since her sophomore year. “I love it,” she said. This fall she is also a teaching assistant in feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker’s Introduction to Feminisms course. Those commitments will limit the hours she’s able to spend on the UCSC Women’s Center’s 51% Pipeline Project, a campus-based drive to encourage young women to run for elected office.

“So many young women are active in high school government, but they just stop when they get to college,” said Tsuchida, who assisted Women’s Center Director Roberta Valdez with the project last year. “Our goal is to help college women see themselves as state and national elected officials. We do everything, from the theory of politics to hands-on skills like workshops on public speaking.”

For herself, Tsuchida is considering law school or graduate work in history of consciousness—at UCSC. “I just love Santa Cruz,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever come across professors who offer such great insights again. Everyone here has such an open mind. I’ve loved every class I’ve taken.”

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