Interview with Jenna Goldsmith, Class of 2008 and 2010


Jenna Goldsmith



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Jenna Goldsmith, Class of 2008 and 2010. The interview was conducted on July 20, 2022 by Emily Deppermann, at the time a graduate assistant at Alumni Engagement.

Goldsmith discusses her decision to attend college, influenced by her family's academic background and her own love for learning. She chose Illinois State University partly due to her father being an alum and wanting to differentiate herself from the family tradition of attending the University of Illinois. Goldman initially majored in journalism but switched to pursuing an English degree due to her introverted nature. She participated in student organizations such as Sigma Tau Delta, PRIDE (People Realizing Individuality through Diversity and Education), and FLAME (Feminist-led Activist Movement to Empower). Goldman remembers participating in a counter-demonstrations against anti-abortion demonstrators with FLAME and and attending MBLGTACC (Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Asexual College Conference) with PRIDE. She emphasizes the profound impact of these organizations on her college experience and how they fostered enduring connections even after graduation.

Goldsmith reminisces about the 2008 election of Barack Obama and her close relationship with the Bowman family, particularly Laura Bowman, daughter of former ISU president Al Bowman. She notes the physical changes to campus since her graduation, particularly the incorporation of spaces designed with social media in mind. She discusses the pervasive influence of cell phone culture on campus life, remarking on the stark contrast between her time as a student, when smartphones were rare, and the current environment where students are often engrossed in their devices. She highlights the significant increase in diversity among students, though she acknowledges this observation is anecdotal. She also reflects on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on campus activism and engagement.

Goldsmith describes her decision to pursue graduate studies immediately after obtaining her bachelor's degree. She shares a humorous anecdote about how she ended up at the University of Kentucky for her Ph.D. program, recounting a mishap involving childcare for a prominent speaker at a symposium which ultimately led to an unexpected opportunity. Goldsmith emphasizes her commitment to giving back to the university that shaped her academic and personal growth, expressing gratitude to faculty mentors and acknowledging the role of luck and privilege in her journey. She discusses her involvement in the Alumni Board of Directors as a means of advocating for the student experience and supporting the university community. In closing, Goldsmith reflects on the supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ students during her time at ISU, highlighting the importance of campus organizations like PRIDE and expressing appreciation for her experiences in that organization.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; decision to attend ISU: 00:00-04:05
  • Journey to becoming an English major: 04:05-07:28
  • Participation in student organizations: 07:28-18:46; 44:45-48:32
  • Working as a student: 18:46-20:26
  • Election of Barack Obama: 20:26-22:50
  • Relationship with Bowman family: 22:50-25:38
  • Dormitory life: 25:38-29:39
  • Changes to campus since Goldman’s graduation: 29:39-34:09
  • Graduate studies at University of Kentucky; Susan Bordo anecdote: 34:09-42:10
  • Staying connected with ISU as an alum: 42:10-44:31

Interview with Jenna Goldsmith, Class of 2008 and 2010