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Student Snapshot: Lilly Zeitlin '21

Lily Zeitlin,

Lilly Zeitlin ’21 (economics, sociology) is interested in studying institutional inequalities, and she conducted original research in India focusing on how urban and industrial development impacts rural communities. Next year, she’ll focus her sights on that issue in Cumberland County. Below, she discusses what drew her to her double major, her internship at the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, studying abroad in Argentina and Ecuador and more.


Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.


Economics and sociology, with a Spanish minor.

Clubs and organizations:  

Ultimate Frisbee Team (co-captain), Delta Nu Sorority, Community Engagement Fellowship and the College Farm.

Favorite book:

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

Favorite movie:

Moonrise Kingdom.

On choosing a major:

Originally, I came to Dickinson planning to major in international studies. My first international studies class didn’t really click with me, but I was also taking the introductory econ courses for the international studies major. While I didn’t love the classes, because the intros can be a bit surface-level, I liked the idea of using economics as one way to understand why people do what they do, as econ is sometimes considered a study of choices. I wanted to balance this more pragmatic, math major with a field that looked at the more organic and societal explanations for people’s behavior. This led me to sociology. Honestly, when I was trying to make the final decision, I remember looking through the course offerings and looking for lists of classes that I was genuinely excited and eager to take. This was really useful, because we often cling to a major based on our personal perceptions of the field, but really seeing what types of classes would shape each semester gives you a better idea of what you’re committing to learn.

Favorite place on campus:

Waidner-Spahr Library.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Salmon at the KOVE.

Favorite class:

My first year I took a course called Prisons and Punishment in American Society. I was one of few first-years in a mostly upper-year course, and I enjoyed this so much, because it was the first time I got to really delve into a specific subject and read all different types of theory that analyzed the different facets of the carceral system. This majorly opened my eyes to the institutional inequalities that are felt disproportionally by certain groups in society.

On studying abroad

I studied abroad my sophomore spring in 2019 with the South America program. We spent one month in Ecuador and about four months in Argentina. My favorite part of this program was getting to immerse myself in the Spanish language and learn about the different indigenous communities in both countries. It was especially interesting to see the fates of those communities and how they greatly differed between countries.

In my junior fall semester, I participated in a program with SIT in Jaipur, India, a partner program of Dickinson. The thematic focus of this program was sustainable development and social change. The highlight of this experience was getting to do independent research in a remote village in a northern state, where I got to speak with the community and analyze this data with the most incredible view of the Himalayas right in front of me.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a lawyer or the president. I don’t see either of those happening at this point.

About my internships:

Since my first year, I interned at an organization called Central Pennsylvania Conservancy in Carlisle, down the street from school. It was truly an awesome experience to connect with the greater community in such a special way. This organization works to protect key natural features of properties and lands in the central Pennsylvania area through land acquisition, conservation easements, education and outreach. This organization does an important job of uniting those members of the community that want to preserve the incredible and rare natural features that are found in this part of the world, and I have had the honor of working with some of the most dedicated people in this field. My internship here has taught me a lot about professionalism, organization and the complicated nature of nonprofit work, among other valuable knowledge.

About my research:

While in India, I did an independent study where I analyzed how urban and industrial development impacts rural horticultural communities in the state of Uttarakhand. I am hoping to extend this research through the economics honors thesis that I will be writing and researching in the upcoming year, looking at a similar question but in the context of the Cumberland County area.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

The research I conducted in India was one of the most difficult and thorough things I’ve ever done. Every aspect of that research pushed me out of my comfort zone in such an important way. Ultimately, I wrote a paper encompassing my findings that is about 40 pages long, and thus far, that is one of my greatest accomplishments.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

As a sociology major, a lot of the theory that we work with continuously points to the idea that what we know to be true isn’t as clear-cut as we’ve always thought. I have taken this concept forward and applied it to my personal life and both my majors, always considering why the status quo is what it is, what are the questions we aren’t asking and why. I have found this especially important in my econ major actually, because the field has a habit of only teaching the mainstream schools or favoring the capitalist model when that may not be the best fit for our country or greater society.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published June 25, 2020