As Women’s History Month comes to an end, several of Texas A&M’s leading women are influencing their communities and advocating for equality and allyship.
One of these women is Sara Fehr, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor within the College of Education and Human Development. Originally from Austin, Fehr graduated from A&M with her bachelor’s in health education in 2009 and her master’s degree in 2010 before completing her Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati in 2015.
Currently, Fehr teaches health-related courses at A&M, but she has a special passion for women’s health and human sexuality. Allied health junior Emma Ambro said Fehr’s passion has motivated her to take multiple courses in these subjects.
“This is my third class I’ve taken with her. I’ve tried to take as many as possible with her after I had her for one of my intro classes,” Ambro said. “She’s really shown how when you’re passionate, if you really work hard you can be successful and share that passion with other people.”
Though she received three degrees in health education, Fehr said she initially enrolled as a biomedical sciences student, but found passion elsewhere.
“I really love [health education] because it’s the marriage of health and psychology,” Fehr said. “It’s the health aspect, trying to help people attain their best health possible — physical, mental, social, economic — but it’s also the psychology of what makes people tick, and not taking those social determinants out of the picture.”
One of Fehr’s biggest motivators was her human sexuality professor Buzz Pruitt, who has since retired from A&M. She said his class was the biggest reason she chose to further her education.
“He became my mentor. I never really had exposure to the health field … there’s so many dimensions to it, so many pervasive levels of influence and all of these things were combined,” Fehr said. “I loved the complexity of it. [Dr. Pruitt] really encouraged me and was an amazing resource for me.”
Fehr continues this culture of encouragement with her own students. Allied health junior Carson Fritz said she is inspired by Fehr’s genuine attitude and wishes she had more professors like her.
“She’s real-life,” Fritz said “I aspire to be that self-confident and that aware of myself and my job and my capabilities as I go on into my journey in the medical field. If more professors were like her, college would be a different experience.”
Fehr’s influence goes beyond the classroom, as she has worked with a variety of advocacy and nonprofit organizations, such as the Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center and the Texas Freedom Network, or TFN. Fehr said her work with TFN allowed her to implement her passion into health advocacy.
“What I did was work to encourage and support comprehensive sexuality education,” Fehr said. “It was really because of that human sexuality class that I chose that internship, and that was really important in shaping my path. We can do a lot with education, and if I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be a teacher.”
Fehr said she believes any person can advocate for women’s rights and encourages everyone to make a positive difference. She said it’s important to look at what the past, present and future for women look like.
“What I would want people to take away from [Women’s History Month] is the importance [of it]” Fehr said. “If you think about some of the trials that women have had to experience over time, not a lot of people have taken a hard look at the history of women’s health, not just the physical, but the emotional, mental [and] social. We need to see how far we’ve come, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Fehr said she strongly encourages students to volunteer with the Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center, Step In & Stand Up or Green Dot in order to support women in Bryan-College Station. She said the protection of women is critical regardless of a person’s identity.
“These issues were ones our great-grandmothers, our grandmothers and even our parents have had to face,” Fehr said. “We all have ladies in our lives that we love. Whether we identify as female, have a female partner, an aunt, a best friend, a mother, a future kid, whoever that might be, don’t we want the best for everyone?”