November 10, 2011 by Elizabeth Miller
As I encounter questions and challenges in my life, more often than not it is my sociological toolkit that I reach into to examine and address them. Sociology provides the lens through which I view and understand my life, and I am able to utilize this lens because of the education and development I gained in the Sociology Department of William and Mary. What I learned in the Sociology Department guides me in the transition from undergraduate to professional staff at the College of William and Mary. As I adjust to my role within The Office of Community Engagement & Scholarship, I consider what I learned about division of labor and status change in a Sociology class. As I discuss representations of race, class, and privilege in my daily anti-poverty work, I build on what I learned in a Sociology class. As I see my role shift in my family, I remember what I learned in a Sociology class. As I contemplate the meaning of wealth and how I want to use the wealth I may (or may not) accumulate, I rely on what I learned in a Sociology class.The Sociology classroom experience at William and Mary is the one I think of most often when I am longing to return to my undergraduate academic life because in Sociology classrooms I found myself excited, engaged, and challenged. It is the dialogues I engaged in in Sociology that led me to question the framework I was just developing, and through that questioning my framework became stronger and more effective. In the Sociology Department I found professors eager to provide me as much knowledge as I could drink in and then press me to absorb more because they had so much to teach me. I spent the most time in the office hours of Sociology professors because I always had more questions and enjoyed learning from them. These were people who were dynamic and understood the world in a way that was helpful and productive, so I came to their offices asking questions about so many parts of the world and my life.It was in the Sociology classroom that I made some of my best friends because when you go through a class that is challenging and intriguing you are more likely to turn to your neighbor and say, “Wait, what?” or “How cool is that!” Papers that I wrote in Sociology helped me clarify how to write effectively and how to apply what I know to real issues, skills I continue to use in my professional life. Sociology taught me the big questions I continue to ask. The sociological toolkit I filled during my years in the Sociology Department of William and Mary is a toolkit I know I will be grateful to have and will be used throughout my life.