A passionate and beloved teacher of Shakespeare and early modern literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Jami Ake is a tireless educator and advocate for victims of intimate partner violence both at and outside the university. In both of these areas, Jami is accomplished, knowledgeable and ardent. All these attributes come through in her exciting, vibrant and inspiring teaching through which she has profoundly affected and changed the lives of countless students.
The roots of Jami’s interests are evident in her choice of a double major in English and Sociology at Smith College. While working toward her doctorate in English at Indiana University, Jami became a trained volunteer, staffing a crisis hotline at an organization that provided crisis support, legal assistance and housing for women who had suffered sexual assault or intimate partner violence.
When she arrived in St. Louis in 1999, she started working by day as an instructor for the English Department at WUSTL and volunteering at night for Women’s Support and Community Services (now Safe Connections) by answering the crisis hotline. Jami was able to transform this extramural interest into an academic one when she began offering a service-learning class through the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program for students to combine classroom learning about domestic violence with directed projects at Lydia’s House, an organization that provides support and housing for abused women and their children. This class greatly affects students and, for many, their lives and priorities are transformed forever.
Jami’s skills as a teacher and mentor are summarized by Paige Sweet, a WUSTL senior who is writing her honors thesis under Jami’s direction. “Not only is she completely available and engaging as a teacher, but she actually makes her students want to change their own lives for the better. She has shown me the statistics, given me the journal articles, and taught me how to talk academically about violence against women, but most importantly, she has given me the tools to go out in the community and work hands-on with the issue. Without Jami, I might have never found my passion or had the courage to pursue work in the field of violence against women. She goes above and beyond every day as a teacher and as a mentor — I truly could not imagine my WUSTL experience without her!”