Felicia Arriaga

Duke University, Southern Vision Alliance-Durham, NC

"The mentoring I received from those in the Sociology department led me to pursue my P.hD. at Duke. In addition, some of the skills and the classes I took as an undergraduate shaped what I would study in graduate school but also shaped the communities I wanted to interact with in a volunteer role. I initially began learning research and critical thinking skills in undergraduate sociology classes that I use in my part-time job as well working as the operations director of a grassroots intermediary.

"The department has been a critical piece of my development within the university; both during my time as an undergraduate and as a current graduate student. I have greatly benefited from the graduate students who give countless hours to their students along with attention from affiliated professors and invited scholars/activists.

"For the past 9 years, I have engaged with mentors affiliated with the department in a variety of ways. This year, I will get to see one of these mentors, the graduate student who worked as the Teaching Assistant for my undergraduate honors thesis course, graduate. Although I had the opportunity to work with her on my thesis project, I was able to learn more from her when I became a Race Workshop coordinator in the graduate program. Her mentorship also continues to extend beyond our shared interest in immigration to advice on work-life balance."

Advice Felicia would give Duke Sociology students:

"I would say that the Sociology program prepares you to work in teams, think critically, and hopefully recognize when you are interacting with others in a privileged way. I will be teaching Social Problems this fall and will more than likely incorporate a service-learning component so that the sociology students are able to see clear connections between what they are studying and how those concepts impact people on a daily basis in and beyond the university setting. Although, our undergraduate program doesn't have the best options in terms of career advice beyond the common options of professional school and consulting/finance, find a mentor who will help you understand all the options available to you. You will learn valuable skills that will be useful in most job settings but if you also take the opportunity to interact with your local community, you'll see that being able to do research and think critically are skills that will allow you to make an impact locally as well. Be willing to be challenged in your coursework in Sociology but take time to reflect on how the concepts in the classroom apply in social settings all around you."