When Katherine Fitzgerald was a freshman she, like many underclassmen, was unsure of what she wanted to major in. All she knew what that she wanted to do something business related, but not economics. “I wanted to create my own path [in that area] without having to create my own major” she says. Spring of 2012 she took Intro to Sociology with now-retired Professor Michael Leming (his last So/An class, her first) and she was hooked. Now a senior, she’ll graduate in the spring with a degree in Sociology/Anthropology and two concentrations: management students and media studies. “They all work really well together” she tells me, describing how several semesters she’s taken classes in each are and discovered a wonderful liberal arts experience of all her classes relating and connecting in new and exciting ways. “They all blend really well together.”
Her two favorite classes so far have been Sociology of Knowledge with Professor Ibtesam Al Atiyat, which she is taking currently, and an interim trip to Thailand with Professor Ryan Sheppard. The abroad experience was transformative. “I loved it” she says. “I thought it was really awesome to put the knowledge we gained in the classroom to use in a hands-on way.” She loved how involved they were in the culture, and learning to do ethnography not in a classroom setting. “It’s not a bad way to spend January either” she laughs.
Another great experience the So/An major has given her is the opportunity to present at the Midwest Sociological Society conference last Spring. Her group presented their research on the relationship between Socio-Economic Status and students decisions regarding taking on debt and the types of jobs they look for.
This past summer she got the chance to use her three areas of study at an internship at the Hershey Company in Pennsylvania, where she helped them plan a track meet, one of their big benefit events every year. “It combined So/An, Media Studies, and Management Studies really well” she explains, adding that it was also interesting because she worked with many students from large universities and learned how different the liberal arts experience is from their experiences.
Besides studying in three areas, Katherine does track and field, is on the executive board of Alpha Phi Omega (a service fraternity), is co-chair of the senior giving campaign, and works in Residence Life and Admissions. She says “I would advise everybody and anybody at school to take at least one So/An class.” Among other things, “you’ll become more of a critical thinker as well as improve your writing.” Plus, she says, the department is “like a wonderful family”, tightknit, and supportive. The professors have challenged her, and are “preparing us for our paths after college.”
Looking back on her four years here, Katherine says she can see her development as a student and person through her So/An classes. “I’ve been able to see my progression through it.” As a freshman, she never could have imagined that she would someday be challenging herself with complicated texts in Sociology of Knowledge. But here she is, looking toward the future, knowing that her experiences in the department will stay with her as she moves forward.
Questions for Katherine? You can contact her at email@example.com