Let's get to know Kseniya...
Hometown: Belmont, Massachussetts
What inspired you to major in Sociology?
When I first entered the University of Michigan, I was dead-set on majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with the intent of going to medical school. Unfortunately, a year of coursework in the natural sciences and mathematics left me unsatisfied and honestly, a little bored. I was dissatisfied by the lack of critical thinking my classes required, as opposed to rote memorization. Thus, when I took an introductory sociology class on a whim, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I was hooked! I had always been passionate about a variety of social issues, but never fully understood how to go about fixing them as an individual. I realized that by understanding the relationships between systems, institutions, and the individuals that comprise them, I could better understand how these social issues came to be, and how we can go about addressing them. While medical practitioners no doubt play an important role in maintaining the health of our society, they ultimately treat individuals. I was much more interested in targeting macro-level social diseases— inequality, segregation, and injustice— so I knew sociology was a much more suitable path for me.
What classes have you most enjoyed?
Some of my favorite sociology classes have been Law and Society with Professor Sandy Levitsky (Soc 354), Gender and the Law with Professor Emily Peterson (Soc 270), and a topics in sociology course called "Defund the Police and Prisons? Alternatives to Punitive Social Control" (Soc 295). All of these classes provided me with a robust understanding of issues I am very passionate about, including injustice in our criminal legal system, gender inequality, and reproductive justice.
Have you participated in undergraduate research, fieldwork, or an internship experience?
There is an abundance of unique and interesting research opportunities in the Sociology department. My junior year, I got involved in a study on juvenile immigration and family reunification through SURO, a program I would recommend highly. This position gave me valuable experience conducting legal reviews, including working with legal databases like LexisNexus to read and adjudicate immigration court proceedings. I've also worked at the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office as in intern, where I developed my understanding of the role of progressive prosecution in criminal justice reform as a summer intern.
Last but not least, my experience conducting qualitative research for my senior Honors Thesis was invaluable— this was my first time designing and executing a research project, and it was incredibly fulfilling. Not only did this experience broaden my understanding of gender and incarceration, but it equipped me with highly transferrable skills like conducting comprehensive literature reviews, designing interview guides, coding qualitative data, writing in the style of an academic journal, and orally presenting my findings.
What do you hope to do after graduating from the University of Michigan?
In just a few hours, I am attending the Sociology graduation and receiving my diploma. I still do not have a concrete plan for post-grad. I will be traveling to Japan with my closest friends in the month of May, then returning to Ann Arbor where I will dive head-first into job applications. Given my interest in qualitative research and policy-minded social change, I hope to work as a research associate or assistant at a social policy organization. After gaining some hands-on experience with research in the work force, I plan to apply to Ph.D. programs in Sociology so that I may continue pursuing my research on carceral motherhood.
Do you have advice for prospective Soc majors in this moment?
Sociology is an incredibly broad major— with so many areas and issues to explore, there are tons of things to be passionate about. Don't be afraid to try something new, whether it be a different type of methodology than you are used to, or an area of sociology you have not had prior interest in. You never know what will inspire you! I, for instance, would never have guessed I'd develop an interest in the Sociology of the Family.