Success Stories

Success Stories

Carly Thomsen '04
Feminist academic

Carly Thomsen '04 receives doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara

Carly Thomsen '04 receives doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The educational journey of Carly Thomsen ’04 that started at St. Cloud State University has led her to becoming the University of California, Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) first doctorate of feminist studies recipient in June 2014.

“I feel extraordinarily grateful to all the people who made it possible for me to be the first person to complete a Ph.D. in feminist studies here,” Thomsen said, in an interview with UCSB’s The Current.

Thomsen majored in rhetoric and applied writing with a minor in women’s studies at St. Cloud State and attributes her time here to establishing her passion for social engagement. “My time at St. Cloud State University changed my life,” Thomsen said. “I gained critical thinking skills, learned how to engage in cultural analysis and began participating in social justice activism. In doing so, I developed a sense of purpose that continues to infuse how I understand myself and my place in this world. My love of critical social engagement began at St. Cloud State University.”

After graduating Summa Cum Laude, Thomsen earned her master’s degree in women’s studies at the University of Arizona before arriving as a doctoral candidate for the Department of Feminist Studies at UCSB.

“Carly is an inspiration,” said Beth Berila, women’s studies professor at St Cloud State. “Her energy and commitment infuse everyone around her with a desire to create positive change. Her voice, as a feminist teacher, scholar and activist makes invaluable contributions to the field, her community and her students.”

Thomsen has been honored with UCSB’s Winifred and Louis Lancaster Dissertation Award for Social Sciences and was selected to fill a two-year postdoctoral appointment at the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University in Texas.

Her dissertation, “Unbecoming: Visibility Politics and Queer Rurality,” offers a critical analysis of calls for LGBTQ people to be “out, loud, and proud” through examining representations, discourses, and experiences of LGBTQ women in the rural Midwestern United States.

In 2012, Thomsen was awarded with one of six Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowships. She also has been honored with the Outstanding Graduate Student Award by UCSB’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity in 2012. The award is given to one UCSB graduate annually for exceptional service to the LGBTQ community.

To view more about Thomsen and her work visit

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