Students in sociology and anthropology are given a freedom unique to the social sciences in their ability to carve out their own education and employment paths, but for some, this task can be daunting. Often the careers of sociology and anthropology graduates do not follow traditional trajectories, but that is not to say that they lose touch with their sociological roots. One such student is Kelly Royce, a 2012 sociology graduate and 2013 admit into the Boston University School of Public Health, who has flourished in the field of health sciences thanks in part to her time here at Northeastern.
How did you know sociology was the right fit for you? Were there any classes or professors that helped you decide?
I bounced around between majors before finally deciding to pursue sociology. What I love most about sociology is how it connects so many seemingly unrelated phenomenons together and creates a much larger picture of the world we live in. It is astounding that in a world full of billions of unique individuals, we have not succumbed to complete anarchy. Sociology is an attempt to answer why and how that is.
What were some of your favorite classes at Northeastern?
I particularly enjoyed Sociology of Health and Illness with Professor Alisa Lincoln. It demonstrated how aspects of society can influence even the most basic, personal, and important aspects of our lives: our health. A person can have poor health due to circumstances that are completely out of their control, through no fault of their own, that they may not even be cognizant of. These health disparities are avoidable and unjust.
I also enjoyed Environment and Society with Professor Danny Faber. Society’s relationship with the environment is critical, because without an environment, we have no society. Professor Faber’s class also showed the ways in which the damage we are inflicting on the environment is also disproportionately affecting the health of certain populations.
Many sociology students have questions pertaining to the co-op opportunities available to them. How did Northeastern’s co-op program fit into your career aspirations?
My last co-op was at the Massachusetts State House. I was a legislative aide for a state senator, which basically involved corresponding with constituents, managing the senator’s schedule, researching pending legislation, attending hearings and lectures and helping with special projects and events. This experience solidified my desire to go into public service because I was able to see the direct results of public advocacy and assistance. There is so much need here in Massachusetts alone, and more work needs to be done to help fix these disparities.
What was your life like on campus? Did you participate in any on-campus clubs or activities? Did you study abroad?
During my time at Northeastern, I participated in Alternative Spring Break one year picking invasive plant species in Big Sur and Monterey, California. I also was involved with SASA (Sociology and Anthropology Student Association) and SAAP (Sociology and Anthropology Advising Peers). I completed two Dialogues of Civilization. The first one took me to Brazil, where we learned about community development and grassroots organization in favelas outside of the city of Salvador. We worked directly with Brazilian students and designed grassroots campaigns based on what community members felt were the biggest problems facing their communities. The second one was in France, and focused on French language immersion by taking intensive French classes and staying with French-speaking host families. We also compared French and American society in a culture class.
What tools did you take with you as you graduated from Northeastern? How have they helped shape your current and future plans?
Northeastern definitely gave me the skills I needed for life as a graduate. Between two co-ops, well-connected career services, and supportive staff and faculty, I was able to network effectively and find a job in a highly competitive area, thanks to the skills I learned both in class and on co-op. The best tools I had for my job search were definitely my professors. It’s amazing how many connections they have and how eager they are to help their students find jobs in their desired fields. I ended up connecting with a recruiter from Brigham and Women’s Hospital through career services, who helped me with my application process. I now work as a Research Assistant in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH, assisting with a large randomized clinical trial looking at the effects of Vitamin D and fish oil in the primary prevention of heart disease and cancer. I chose to pursue a career in public health, in no small part due to Professor Lincoln’s class and the guidance she gave me. She taught me how the combination of sociology and public health can have huge positive impacts on the health of our society and how important it is that we work towards improving the quality of life for all members of our society, regardless of their position within it. I have been accepted to the Master of Public Health program at Boston University School of Public Health, which I will begin in the Spring of 2013.