My road in life has been direct.
As an average student (albeit with high test scores) in an exceptional high school, my college counselor told me I was best suited for community college. I was offended, but shouldn't have been.
My family didn't qualify for financial aid but I didn't receive enough financial support to cover my living expenses, so I worked as many as 40 hours a week waiting tables during college.
When I transferred colleges, I couldn't get into any of the regular courses so I ended up taking all honors classes my 1st term. In one of those classes, I met my mentor-- Ruth Wallace.
Once I committed to sociology, I never looked back. On the one hand, I've moved quickly through my career. On the other hand, I'm not very well-rounded or particularly well-read. That's frustrating.
I consulted and held fellowships while also holding down an assistantship in grad school in order to make ends meet. It built my resume substantially and helped me land a great first job.
I didn't marry or have kids until I hit the tenure track. That was stressful but necessary. Despite being told it was a bad idea, I ended up giving birth to 2 babies during my tenure track.
Up until the moment I received tenure, I thought I wouldn't get it. Too many senior people felt that while the substance of my work merited it, I personally did not.
Changing jobs is wonderful. Don't ever let an employer make you believe they are the only one who will hire you.
Keep following my journey


Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology

I study, implement, and advocate for solutions to help more students complete college.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Helping People

Day to Day

There is no "typical" day in my life. Every single day is different and I travel constantly. Here's an example of 3 recent day: Monday: Write research memos, conduct an experiment for a new study, do recruitment for a new survey Tuesday: Teach, travel to NYC to speak at a conference while taking calls with policymakers, speak, write on the return home Wednesday: Attend community event, attend department & faculty mttgs, deliver keynote lecture, research meeting, support a student, work dinner

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Talk to people and ask for advice. Don't ask for money. Ask for advice, and then for introductions.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"You're "doing" academia the wrong way -- you need to focus on peer-reviewed publications, be quiet and keep your head down, and cut out the activism!"

Interviewed By

Anonymous Student