Francesca Smith, '14
Albert M. Fulton, Class of 1897 Prize, class of 2014, for her project entitled "Navigating Barriers, Mobilizing Strengths: How Immigrant Parents' Perceptions of School Involvement Translate into Action"
What have been some highlights of your Sociology experience these past four years?
The biggest highlight was definitely writing and completing my thesis. Taking lead on my own research project from start to finish was incredibly challenging and so rewarding. I really enjoyed conducting my interviews and getting to see themes from classes and readings come to life as I did my research. Working closely with my adviser and attending tutorial were also a great experiences, and I felt supported every step of the way. It was also an honor to have my thesis read by extremely accomplished sociologists and receive their feedback on my work. I had read a couple of Mary Waters's books and some of her research guided my own question-formation and literature review, so it was especially exciting to have her read my thesis and receive her feedback! I also enjoyed how I was able to take a somewhat interdisciplinary focus in my course of study by taking WGS and HGSE classes as part of my electives.
What are your post-grad plans?
I will be working as an education programs coordinator at a community-based non-profit called IBA (Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion). Based in the South End's Villa Victoria neighborhood (which now-Harvard sociologist Mario Small wrote a book about!), IBA works to build community power through education, economic development, technology, and arts. I will be helping with program management/strategy and evaluation for the education-focused programs (preschool, youth/teen programs, and adult education programs). In a few years, I hope to attend grad school to get a degree in social work or education... we'll see!
Did sociology play a role in helping you select your next opportunity?
Definitely--the classes that I was able to take on themes of inequality, education, poverty, and race cemented my belief that I wanted to engage in some sort of social justice/service work, and it gave me an academic/intellectual lens to think about the public service work I was doing during college and will continue to do after graduation at IBA. I'm considering a PhD in Education and other graduate school options because of my thesis research/writing experience. I feel like I've grown into a much more socially aware/conscious person because of my sociology experience, which will continue to guide career opportunities I make in the future.