Brock grad on a path to social change

Recent Brock University graduate Jennifer Bonato is on a mission to empower, inspire and support women across Niagara.Bonato is the current Board of Directors Vice-President for the YWCA Niagara Region, a non-profit organization that provides safe, supportive housing and programs for women across Canada, and will be the new Board of Directors President this coming new year.Bonato credits a large portion of her journey to her experiences at Brock. She graduated from the MA Critical Sociology program this past weekend during Brock’s 100th convocation ceremony. She also completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology at Brock.“My undergraduate career at Brock helped to shape my knowledge of the social world and taught me to critically examine everything,” says Bonato. “I chose the Master of Critical Sociology program because I was looking to deepen my understanding of sociology and the application of social theory to academic research and critical issues.”Bonato’s research, “Monsanto and the Patenting of Life: Is Biotechnology a New Form of Primitive Accumulation in the 21st Century,” is an eco-feminist analysis that parallels the appropriation and use of women’s bodies for capital accumulation by the church and state during the mid-century European witch trials with the use of the bodies of seeds for capital accumulation through biotechnology and genetic engineering by corporations, such as Monsanto.“Jennifer has produced a thoughtful, insightful and well written Major Research Paper,” says her supervisor and Sociology and Women and Gender Studies professor Ana Isla. Bonato presented this research at the International Rural Sociology Association’s World Congress at Ryerson in August and is currently considering avenues of publication.Feminism and social justice has been a major part of Bonato’s life both personally and academically.“Feminism is just a way of looking at the world through a lens that attempts to incorporate the gendered dimension that has been historically excluded,” she explains. “At the same time, feminism isn’t a single thing, and it has different meanings to different people. It asks questions and politicizes the most personal aspects of our social experiences while reclaiming history (/herstory) and actively seeking changes to inequities that shape our lives.”It was very important for Bonato to work with a feminist organization like the YW to continue to empower and support women and commit to her passion for social change. She has been involved with the YW since volunteering at the No Fixed Address event in the summer of 2013 and became a board member in 2015. Bonato is excited and honoured to become the next President of the Board of Directors and to continue her work in the organization.As part of her involvement, Bonato is one of the organizers behind the YW’s third-annual Niagara Leadership Summit for Women that is taking place Saturday, October 22 at Brock University with the theme of “Innovating Leadership”. The summit is a full day conference designed to inspire, build community connections and recognize women’s leadership in Niagara and features a variety of guest speakers, workshops and discussions about innovative approaches to leadership.The program will feature a keynote address by Brock University Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo and a diverse variety of speakers and workshop leaders, including Brock’s Communication, Popular Culture & Film professor Karen Smith and other inspiring Brock faculty, staff and students and influential community members.“Whether it is navigating a work environment that has historically been exclusive of female leadership, developing tools to distribute knowledge within your community, committing to intentional self-care, or learning how to be a supportive leader, these are all types of innovative leadership,” says Bonato. “We hope that attendees will leave the day feeling motivated and empowered, with new knowledge and a sense of shared community support.”Brock University is excited to be a part of this event and is proud of Jennifer’s contributions and successes as she enters her new role as the YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors President. Bonato advises students to become involved in issues and organizations on and off campus. “University allows you to develop ways of thinking and seeing, but it’s important to find ways to apply these skills and to carve out your niche. Graduate school is a great way to shift from consumer-of-knowledge to producer-of-knowledge, so finding ways to share your knowledge becomes more and more important.”To learn more about graduate studies at Brock, visit read more