"Studying abroad in South America made me reevaluate myself as a proud U.S. citizen, my place in a globalized world and what my home nation represents in contemporary society," says Mollie Montague '19 (sociology, Spanish), who researched polarization for her senior-thesis project in sociology. During her first semester on campus, she was energized by the friends she made in her Learning Community and the resources she discovered at her fingertips, and last fall, she gave back as a Learning Community Coordinator, helping to mentor a new group of first-years as they discovered the new opportunities surrounding them. In the years in between, she's held a D.C. internship with a federal agency that taught her a great deal about how governments function, and what to look for in her future career. She's also studied abroad in three countries.
Gloucester, Virginia, but I went to high school in Putney, Vermont.
Clubs and organizations:
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
Back to the Future.
On choosing a major:
I took the intro sociology class during my first-year fall semester at Dickinson. I fell in love with the way of thinking with which it presented me and with the sudden connections I was seeing all around me. I was really sold when I shared an article of interest with a visiting professor and he offered to help me write an article for publication about it. I spent the spring of my first year writing about generational changes visible in Gen Z. Though the article was eventually rejected and the professor moved on from Dickinson, the experience of researching as a barely-sociology major was such an incredible learning opportunity. I knew I wanted to spend four years exploring everything possible in that subject.
I later declared my Spanish major when I realized that there was a possibility for me to truly master a language. This was a big deal for me: When I was in fourth grade, I was diagnosed with learning differences that granted me a language waiver, so I grew up thinking that language class was a painful classroom experience, and I only began to study Spanish late in high school. With the help of Dickinson’s Office of Access and Disabilities Services and understanding professors, I discovered the wonder of communicating thoughts in a whole new way.
Favorite place on campus:
Any green space outside in the sun.
Favorite class/learning experience:
I’m torn between a social theory class with [Associate Professor of Sociology] Dan Schubert, Inequalities in the U.S. with [Associate Professor of Sociology] Amy Steinbugler and the Ideas Politicas y Sociales Americanas class that I took in Argentina. These three courses all have something in common: After taking them, I didn’t see the world the same way.
Favorite Dining Hall food:
Mac and cheese, of course.
Proudest accomplishment so far:
Any time I’ve followed through with a crazy idea, from the Kindness Challenge my sophomore year to making a family newsletter when I was young.
About my internship:
In the summer of 2018 I interned with a federal agency in D.C. I was drawn to it because it would allow me to work within government and to use my Spanish and my year-abroad experiences on a daily basis. I learned a great deal about how international relations work, how governments function and what I will look for in my future career. I learned how to apply my liberal-arts education in the professional atmosphere, network and take ownership of my work. Perhaps most important, I learned about other possible opportunities that interested me.
On studying abroad:
I studied abroad in Ecuador, Argentina and Spain. A highlight of my experience was my last weekend in Ecuador when my host family surprised me with a farewell cake and a dinner with all the people I’d met in my short few weeks there. I still talk to them and dream of the empanadas my host mom made. Studying abroad in South America made me reevaluate myself as a proud U.S. citizen, my place in a globalized world and what my home nation represents in contemporary society.
It may be cheesy, but my family. I have a big family. They teach me every day about love, communication, growing up, facing challenges with open arms, laughter and strength. My siblings, their spouses, my parents and my grandmother help me put everything I do into perspective. They support me and remind me to value everything set before me and make it my own. They inspire me to pursue my passions and be myself.
About my research:
In my senior spring semester I wrote a thesis on polarization in society. I decided to apply to do a senior thesis because I knew I wanted the experience of conducting my own self-designed research project from the moment I watched seniors present their theses my freshman year. I also have always been drawn to exploring divisions in society and questioning why it appears that people in society don’t talk to those with whom they disagree.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
I can speak for myself, my own perspectives and my own ideas. I can learn about the experiences of others, ask questions about them and listen to them.
About being a Learning Community Coordinator:
During the fall of my senior year, I was a Learning Community Coordinator for the same Learning Community and First-Year Seminar I took as a first-year. I loved it! Acting as a cross between a TA and a mentor, I was able to work with the professors on the course material, build extracurricular events based on the syllabus for the students and work with them on the material.
Coming back from a year abroad, it was a wonderful way to get to know a group of first-years. Their ideas were engaging, their questions were challenging and their sense of humor was refreshing.
The concept of a Learning Community is to allow students to continue building off of their academic experiences outside the classroom and get to know the resources that their peers represent. It was wonderful to hear how much they had gotten out of just one semester together as well as to listen to their excitement for the rest of their Dickinson careers. I am still close with people from my Learning Community, and I hope the same will be true for them.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published May 10, 2019