Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Kali Furman Oral History Interview, February 9, 2023

Oregon State University
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00:00:04 - Introduction/Verbal Consent Form

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Partial Transcript: The interview is being recorded.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer goes over and reads the verbal consent form to narrator Kali Furman who then goes on to consent to the interview.

00:00:45 - Name and Origins

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Partial Transcript: What is your full name, and was there any reason you were named that?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator's full name is Kali Furman. There were no origins for her name with no particular meaning or history. She explained how her first name was found in a book, how she has no middle name, and that she kept her maiden name because there was no appeal to change it.

00:03:26 - Childhood/Family Background

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Partial Transcript: Going back, to your childhood times.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Kali Furman was born in St. Maries, Idaho. She did not live in the town, instead 30 minutes out on a mountain on 20 acres in a trailer. Dr. Furman was born February 1988 to parents Karen Johnson and Richard "Tiny" Furman, who both worked for the State Government. She has an older sister named Kira who is 5 years older. Growing up, there were no nearby extended family members of the Furman family. Dr. Furman's father is from the East coast, so all of the family from his side is still there. Her mother is from Boise, Idaho which is where her siblings and Kali's cousins were. In terms of the living community, Dr. Furman had explained the lands to be very woodsy and for the populations to be down. Everything was pretty isolated, there were many mills as forms of employment, and lots of farmers. For high school, Dr. Furman attended a small K-12 school in the smallest size district for school. As a student, she was involved in lots of organizations and sports, as it was basically the only thing to do while also building her resume. Dr. Furman's parents chose to settle in Idaho due to their jobs and work. While they were both working in Idaho, that is how her parents had met. In terms of her grandparents' lives, Dr. Furman mentioned her mother's parents had passed away before she was born while she grew up with her dad's parents. What her grandparents went through and experienced were things she was able to hear about later on.

00:15:01 - Lifetime Changes

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Partial Transcript: What would you consider to be the most important inventions during your lifetime?

Segment Synopsis: When thinking of significant changes in the span of her lifetime, Dr. Kali Furman was quick to discuss the technological advancements, the impact 9/11 had on society as well as political standpoints for herself and the country, and social and systemic issues that have been ongoing with minor changes here and there.

00:23:28 - Leading to Working in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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Partial Transcript: So speaking of all of this, I know that you are a part of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Department at OSU. What made you choose that and to major in that, if you did major in that?

Segment Synopsis: As a student in Undergrad, Dr. Furman went to Boise State University where she majored in History, Social Studies, and Secondary Education. She originally wanted to be a high school history teacher, but then she realized it was not for her. During her undergrad years, she found out that feminist classes were being offered, so she decided to take them. Taking the classes was a major shift in which she dropped her Secondary Ed major and kept the History major while having the Women Gender Studies and English minors. While at Boise State, she volunteered with the Gender Equity center in which she did projects and worked with people who really changed her perspective on life. When graduating from school, she knew that she wanted to go to Grad School but was burnt out, leading to her working instead. The work she did was heavily involved with pursuing Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

00:30:38 - Graduate School

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Partial Transcript: So I decided to pursue Graduate School in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Kali Furman never would have considered going to grad school if she had not thought it to be possible. Her boss at the Gender Equity Center was to one who told her she could get a PhD and that she was smart enough to do so. She was aware that a Masters Degree was an option, but she never knew anybody with a PhD growing up. When she applied for Masters programs, she applied to about 10 programs, but decided to come to OSU. Dr. Furman chose to come to OSU because of funding, as she was offered a graduate assistant position that helped pay for her to go to school essentially. Ever since then, she has been with OSU since, joining the Beaver nation in July of 2013 and currently still working here.

00:34:58 - Her Partner

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Partial Transcript: And you also mentioned you and your partner, so were you guys involved before you applied for graduate school or what was your story with that?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Furman and her partner, Connor, were friends who eventually became friends. They had met through mutual friends during their undergrad years and eventually started dating in December of 2009. Throughout the process of her wanting to go to grad school, he was very supportive. They made the decision together of where they wouldn't want to live and knew they wanted to agree on a place to move together. Connor was there for Kali as emotional support through the entirety of her grad school years.

00:36:36 - Becoming a Professor at OSU

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Partial Transcript: So what made you choose to be a professor here at OSU? I know you came here and you didn't have that position offered to you at first.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Furman loves teaching, as she feels it is her calling. She knew she wanted to be in a classroom where she can work with students because it is important and meaningful work that brings her joy.

00:37:45 - Previous Jobs

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Partial Transcript: Before becoming a professor, what other jobs did you have? I know you mentioned working for the school, but were there any other jobs you did?

Segment Synopsis: During her teenage years, Kali worked as a nanny for her cousin in Idaho itself. During her undergrad years, she worked in food service in Boise. After that, she started basing her jobs off of her educational and career needs. She found herself working in student affairs, in the Social Change Leadership Program, and Graduate Assistant.

00:42:07 - Aspirations as a Child

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Partial Transcript: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Segment Synopsis: When she was very little, Dr. Furman wanted to be an artist. Besides that, she always wanted to be a teacher for as long as she could remember. When thinking if her younger self would expect her current self to be a college professor, she answered with a very solid no. She did not think getting to that point was possible, to the point of having a PhD and opportunities to do research.

00:44:02 - Publications

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Partial Transcript: And speaking of your PhD and your Masters, you mentioned how you had multiple publications. Can you tell us more about that?

Segment Synopsis: Considering Dr. Furman's publications, most of them came out when she was working on her PhD. She worked on a grant in which she ended up with several co-authored works just from working on that. There were also several encyclopedia entries in which they were individually written or co-authored with people who she worked with. Dr. Furman also had the opportunity to have a big publication in which she co-edited the book, a volume revolving around a program at OSU.

00:46:30 - Personal Relation to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever struggled with your identity, gender, or sexuality since you are part of the WGSS department?

Segment Synopsis: As a woman, Kali has definitely had moments where she had to ask herself who she was. She never really struggled with gender or gender identity, as she had always known she was a cisgendered woman. With gender, she experienced sexism growing up and it influenced hr as a person. With sexuality, she did question who she likes, what she likes, but regardless felt aligned to who she was. Despite the times she grew up in being Conservative, it did not stop Dr. Furman from being opinionated. She is not afraid to say how she thinks or feels. There was always that sense that issues society faces are simply not okay, and she wanted to speak out against that.

00:52:38 - Personal Reflection/Influences

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Partial Transcript: What person has had the most positive influence on your life? What did he/she do to influence you?

Segment Synopsis: A big influence in Kali's life is definitely her family. They have all been there for her, supporting who she is and raising her to be the woman she is today. The people who have changed the course of her life include her feminist boss and her wife at the Gender Equity Center as well as OSU faculty. They have all been there to serve as models and believed in her throughout her working towards her educational and career goals. Something that has stuck with Dr. Furman throughout her life is something her grandpa had told her, as it now serves as a way to change attitudes and outlooks on life.

00:59:17 - COVID-19 and its Effects

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of society and events that have affected it, COVID-19 is a big one right now cause it is really recent. How has that whole pandemic and situation affected you in many aspects?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Furman reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic being a world-altering event that seemed as though it made the world stop. It was a time in which there were many lives lost, but there were also so many social and systemic issues that rose. It was a moment in which individual impacts as well as social and systemic impacts were very significant. Within the pandemic, there was attention brought to the Black Lives Matter Movement as well as events revolving around Reproductive Rights.

01:08:29 - Influence on Younger Generations

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Partial Transcript: It's obvious that you are very passionate about what you do, and being a part of the WGSS department, what do you hope to accomplish with students and getting these messages across?

Segment Synopsis: As an instructor, Dr. Furman was quick to realize people take her classes for a multitude of reasons which she finds to not be an issue at all. She just wants to leave an impact in the sense of giving students space and opportunity to gain a fundamental understanding of different frameworks in society, further applying them to their lives and society more broadly. She does not expect people to gain the same perspective, beliefs, or ideals from the class, simply just a tool to analyze society through a feminist lens, understanding the issues, and how to go about change.

01:11:02 - Reflection on Achievements

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Partial Transcript: Seeing as your are talking about all this stuff, for you personally and in the world, what are you most proud of?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Kali Furman is proud of being in a position in which she can see students be successful, challenging their thinking, and see them take their learnings and applying it to the outside world. Personally, she is proud of getting to the point where she is doing the work she does, in the field she is in, and the fact that she has a PhD. She did not ever think she could have made it so far, as she did not think that there was a way to get there. No matter what, Dr. Furman is satisfied with where she is at, even though she still wants to do so much more with her life.

01:14:39 - Travel

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Partial Transcript: Since your field and your department is so broad and touches on not only national but international issues as well, going on a more fun topic, do you like to travel?

Segment Synopsis: Most of the traveling Dr. Furman did was through school and education, as the opportunities were there when she was studying undergrad and grad. She went to places such as Ireland, Egypt, India, Bulgaria, Germany, Canada, and obviously all throughout America. She explained the experiences to be very unique and brought her closer to learning more about what she did not previously know. If she could go anywhere she has not been, she would go anywhere because she wants to visit as much of the world as she can.

01:21:03 - Closing Statements

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Partial Transcript: Coming to the end of our interview, what would you tell younger generations?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Kali Furman ends the interview by emphasizing the importance of individuals working together to create change in a world and society that needs it. The better world is worth fighting for, and each individual can help make the world less terrible. She talks about the importance of being happy a fundamental part of life, regardless of working or a career. As an instructor and a citizen, Dr. Furman hopes to continue contributing to chip away at social issues and making society a place where people can thrive and be their authentic selves.