June 30, 2014

VSU Professor Tracy Woodard is honored for her work with migrant farmworkers

VALDOSTA--The Migrant Farmworkers Clinic, located in South Lowndes County, has recognized Dr. Tracy Woodard, Valdosta State University professor of sociology and director of Women’s and Gender Studies, for her outstanding service to the clinic and the migrant farmworkers community.
In addition to volunteering her time at the clinic, Woodard serves on Farmworkers Clinic advisory board and helps with the Migrant Farmworkers Health Fair, which is conducted with doctors and physician assistant students from Emory University in June each year.
“I enjoy the people that I meet and their Latino culture,” said Woodard, who began volunteering at the Migrant Farmworkers Clinic six years ago. “Most have been through a lot of adversity and their resilience amazes me. I admire the people that I meet and work with in the community.”
Throughout the year Woodard and VSU students work to collect food and clothing for the migrant farmworkers, as well as host campus events that bring awareness to various social issues within the community.
Woodard encourages college students to become involved in issues that bring awareness to domestic violence, women’s sexuality, and the avocation for social justice.
“In my classes, sometimes the students go with me to the farmworker community to help with whatever projects or events we are doing,” said Woodard, who received a Doctor of Philosophy from Florida State University. “I think it is important for students because we have a community in our ‘backyard’ that is in need of support, services, and help. While they learn about these things in the classroom, including intersectionality, privilege, oppression, immigration, immigration reform, and poverty, it is very different when you see it or live it.
“I think besides becoming better informed it helps students to become better activists, and human beings in general. I always tell my students that they have to be aware of their place in time, especially when it comes to privileges and power. We take so much for granted and feel such a sense of entitlement; this helps put that into perspective. It also helps for us to be aware of what we have and to appreciate those things, to be good stewards, and not to take advantage, oppress, or exploit others.”
Woodard first became aware of the issues of migrant farmworkers and immigration while on a trip to El Paso, Texas. 
Since that time, she has taken VSU students to the U.S. and Mexico border to investigate social inequalities of Hispanic immigrants. Woodard, along with Drs. Kathryn Schmidt and Shani Gray Wilfred, received funds from VSU's Quality Enhancement Plan to engage students in research associated with borderland immigration issues. The students interviewed and observed the social construction of race, gender, class, ethnicity, and the  impact of globalization of the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border region. 
Woodard continues to work with local migrant farmworkers throughout South Georgia and has been involved in a number of community agencies, including the Red Cross, where she was recognized for her efforts with shelter coordination during the Hurricane Floyd evacuation in 1999.
She is the recipient of the Centennial Laureate Award, a prestigious alumni honor from Florida State University’s College of Human Services that recognized her significant sustained contributions in professional work that address the health and development of individuals, families, and communities.