The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Brittany Collins ’14 Helps Women Make Strides in Literary World

Credit%3A+Brittany+Collins+posted+by+Ms.+Magazine.
Credit: Brittany Collins posted by Ms. Magazine.

Credit: Brittany Collins posted by Ms. Magazine.

Credit: Brittany Collins posted by Ms. Magazine.

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From writing books on construction paper to writing her college essay on the third floor of the Schoolhouse, Brittany Collins ’14 has been crafting her creative voice for as long as she can remember.

Collins, who graduated from Williston in 2014, is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Voices and Visions, a literary journal featuring work from alumnae and students of women’s colleges and high schools.

“If, as [Leslie Marmon] Silko writes, ‘stories are all we have,’ then women must explore and express their stories,” she told The Willistonian. “Our words hold power, and women take authority and ownership over their lives when they author and/or tell their stories.”

Collins added, “Writing is indelible, and the stories of past and present offer us maps for understanding women’s collective and subjective experiences.”

The writer credits history teacher Sarah Klumpp’s Intro to Women and Gender Studies class as what catalyzed her interest in women’s rights.

“At that time, I was also involved with the Diversity Committee and Cultural Identity Development Nights at Williston, thinking about intersectionality, identity, and larger issues of inclusion,” she added.

In her senior year she attended the Massachusetts Women’s Leadership Conference in Boston with other Williston students.

“[It] ignited formative discussions with faculty and peers that shaped the way I continue to think about overall equity, including women’s writes.”

Collins realized the “synonymy between story and activism” while working on her college application. “I was exploring my own identity—where I came from, where I was going.”

The combination of her role on the Diversity Committee, taking Women and Gender Studies, and writing her college application led her to further explore feminism—something she continued at Smith College.

“To me, feminism is about gender equity,” she said. “The term is often stigmatized and misconstrued, but it represents a simple goal: a world in which people of all genders share equal opportunities and rights.”

A main part of feminism, Collins believes, is its connection to activism.

“Feminism is inextricable from other forms of activism: racial justice, ability justice, LGBTQ justice, etcetera. Activists must tackle the whole equity while also fighting for specific causes, as one form of justice cannot be achieved without the others,” she said.

She added, “I strongly believe that men can be, and must be, feminists as well. Feminism is a term and movement founded on respect, and I like to believe that all people are capable and worth that respect.”

Collins applied to be the Editor-in-Chief of Voices & Visions during her sophomore year. Launched by Rosetta Marantz Cohen, a parent of a Williston alumna and a professor of Education and Child Study at Smith College, Voices & Visions is an important part of Collin’s life.

“I hope that readers of Voices & Visions [get a] glimpse a global perspective of women’s lives,” Collins said. “The works that we feature offer insight into the similarities and differences that span our globe, and it is humbling to witness such a vast array of creativity.”

She hopes that the journal “inspires readers of any gender to share their own stories in whatever medium feels right to them.”

Currently, Collins hopes the journal “maintain[s] momentum.”

“We have readership in 154 countries, have expanded our submission pool to include the works of alumnae who attended women’s schools, and have grown our editorial staff to include international editors.” She added, “I hope to sustain that growth with the coming issues, and I hope to engage even more deeply with international networks.”

Part of the success of the journal may have to do with the current political climate. Movements like #MeToo have ignited conversations concerning the rights of women.

“I think we are in a groundbreaking sociocultural movement in regards to women’s rights,” Collins said.

“The #MeToo Movement and Women’s Marches are public displays of an undercurrent  of empowerment and expression that will hopefully catalyze action (individual and societal) and, ultimately, push our society closer to equity.” Collins added, “I hope to see more people engaging in these tough conversations; leaning into their discomfort and questions; learning with and from as many people as they can; and sharing their stories and beliefs.”

According to Collins, Williston shaped her beliefs because “it exposed me to a vast array of perspectives. It was a community in which students and teachers engaged in difficult, important conversations; where I was held accountable and heard.”

Because of this, Collins credits Williston for helping her grow her ideas and find her identity.

“My mentors in high school recognized and supported my voice before I even realized I had it. They guided me into positions of leadership while teaching empathy by example.”

Collins told The Willistonian, “It was a place of rigor and support, and its lessons of character—truly, ‘purpose, passion, and integrity’–have informed all I’ve done and continue to do now. I strive to channel the ethos of Williston when I work with writers and students.”

A wide variety of teachers helped Collins achieve what she did.

“It’s so hard to pick individuals who inspired me, because every member of the Williston faculty exuded the same energy and support,” she said. “Whether it was a high-five from Ms. Davey or Ms. Fulcher in the dining hall, giving a presentation in Señor Simpson’s Spanish class, or saying hello to Ms. Motyka as I entered the doors of the Schoolhouse each morning, my days at Williston were energizing and filled with compassion. I thank its faculty and staff for that.”

Brittany Collins is a writer, an editor, but most importantly she is a person with a strong and clear voice. A lot of that, she said, is because of her time at Williston.

“I will forever and always be the biggest Williston fan! My time at the school was pivotal,” Collins said. “I would not be the woman I am if I hadn’t had the privilege for learning and growing within its green gates.”

She added, “High school isn’t always easy, but in my experience, Williston struck the perfect balance of challenging and nurturing me as a student and person. It became a home and a family. I can’t think of a better place to have spent my teenage years.”

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Brittany Collins ’14 Helps Women Make Strides in Literary World