Kristine Kilanski '07

I transferred to Washington and Lee as a sophomore in college. During one of my first few days at W&L, I attended a campus-wide fair designed to expose new students to the university's offerings. Out of curiosity, I stopped by the sociology and anthropology table. I was immediately greeted by then departmental chair, Dr. David Novack. Upon Professor Novack's urging that day, I enrolled in an introductory sociology course. That course helped me to develop a "sociological lens" or "sociological toolkit"--opening up possibilities for me to view the social world from radically different perspectives. I was hooked.

Further subject-based courses gave me a solid understanding of the major debates within the discipline. Methods courses with Professors Eastwood, Goluboff and Jasiewicz provided me with an opportunity to dip my toes into the practice of empirical research, and a senior honors thesis--supervised by Professor Novack--gave me invaluable experience in designing a research study from beginning to end, from choosing a research question to learning new data analysis software to developing a theoretical lens through which I could interpret the study's empirical findings. Meanwhile, the Shepherd Internship Program, which I participated in during the summer of 2005, gave me a first-hand understanding of the depth of inequality in the contemporary U.S., further igniting a passion for economic, racial and gender justice that, almost a decade later, still burns strong.

After graduating from W&L in 2007--and thanks to the critical thinking, writing and research skills I gained as an undergraduate in this department, as well as the faculty members' consistently high expectations of majors--I landed two great research positions in Washington, D.C., where I had an exciting career before making the decision to go to graduate school. I am currently a PhD Candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

These days, I spend my days researching gender and racial inequality in the labor market, changes to the organization of work and workplaces (and its impact on workers), and poverty. I recently returned from six months of fieldwork in a boomtown, where I was examining the relationship between gender and localized economic change. During the spring, I will teach my first independent course, U.S. Contemporary Social Problems, in which I hope to inspire students just as my mentors at W&L inspired me through their passion for their subject material and their dedication to their students. I cannot speak more highly of the training I received at Washington and Lee and as a sociology and anthropology major. Even though I chose the academic route, the skills, knowledge and experience I gained as an undergraduate set me up well to thrive in any setting.