Alumni have become leaders in business, journalism, policy research organizations, social and health service organizations, and graduate and professional training programs. Here are updates on a few of our alumni.
Jacob Barnes ‘15
“Growing up, I was that kid—like many others—who changed their mind on what they wanted to be when they grew up almost every week. One characteristic of my dream job, however, always remained constant; from a very young age, I knew that I wanted to help people. I came to Cornell still not entirely sure of what path I would eventually follow, knowing only that I wanted to do all I could to help those in need. This mentality is what brought me to the inequality studies minor.
As a student in the ILR School, I was able to focus much of my studies on social and economic inequality and the protection of human and workers’ rights through pursuing the minor. Both the required core course and overview course I chose to take—Controversies About Inequality and Social Inequality, respectively—provided a broad, foundational knowledge on myriad topics related to inequality, helping me to refine my interests early in my degree and structure my further studies around those interests. The variety of courses that qualify as electives for the minor further allowed me to tailor my studies exactly how I wanted while still working to complete my major.
My passion for inequality in relation to the labor movement and workers’ rights led me to the ILR School’s Worker Institute, where I worked for over a year as an undergraduate research fellow. I have continued my work with the Worker Institute after graduation as a Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Fellow at the New York City office, now performing my own research dealing with the protection of immigrant workers’ rights and the pursuit of a fair wage for all. Thanks in large part to the inequality studies minor, I now am living that dream.”
Adam Kirsch ‘15
“My high school involvement revolved heavily around addressing inequality, and I realized that I wanted my college experience to also incorporate study of the incredibly important issue. Inequality’s prevalence in society makes it an essential area to study and understand, and I knew an Inequality Studies minor would give me the breadth and depth I need to fulfill that goal.
The Inequality Studies minor played a key role in my Cornell experience, complementing my major in Industrial and Labor Relations and interest in business with a deep dive into social issues and the pervasive challenges facing our world. The combination of social sciences and humanities gave me a new, essential perspective through which I can look at the world.
Of all the classes I took for my Inequality Studies minor, Labor and Social Movement Approaches to Climate Change interested me most. The class, taught by ILR professors Sean Sweeney and Lara Skinner, looked into the parallels and divergences between the American labor movement, environmentalism and other civil society movements. It was unique perspective on a major global issue that really shaped the way I looked at the economic, social and political ramifications of climate change.
I also served as a research fellow for the ILR Worker Institute, working with Profs. Sweeney and Skinner. In this role, I was able to further research the state of labor in the energy sector, dig deep into the challenges facing companies and unions, and look at opportunities for collaboration and positive dialogue amongst the different stakeholders with the goal of understanding their priorities, concerns and initiatives with regards to sustainability and a just transition to a clean economy.
I am an entrepreneur, and launched my business, Yorango out of Cornell. I am a 2016 MBA candidate at the Johnson School, and I continue to supplement my business education with courses from across the university that enhance my understanding of society and the world we live in.”
Yorango, founded by Adam Kirsch, ’15 named NYC Startup of the Year
Dominique Corley ‘14
Dominique Corley, a Linguistics and Sociology Major and Inequality Studies Minor, graduated from Cornell in 2014, receiving the Best Honors Thesis Award in Inequality and the Leo Meltzer Award for Best Undergraduate Thesis in the field of Social Psychology for her thesis, “Sounding Guilty: African American English and Racial Inequality in the Courtroom.” Her thesis found evidence that African American English-speakers are disadvantaged in the legal system and are perceived by jurors as less informative and less reliable witnesses and defendants, concluding that this may contribute to the over-representation of African Americans in the criminal justice system.
Dominique is currently working to develop a local branch of Young Life, an international ministry directed at impacting the lives of inner city teenagers, teen moms, and incarcerated youth, in Syracuse, NY. She also hosts a weekly faith-based girl’s group in her home and was responsible for initiating an after-school cafe in Syracuse called “EspressoSelf Cafe,” a safe place for inner-city kids to express themselves, be mentored, and be loved for who they are. Dominique also raises funds for the aforementioned programs and builds community relations with other local foundations that support inner city teens, teen moms, and incarcerated youth.
Cayley Heller ‘14
“I was drawn to the Inequality Studies minor by the opportunity to study inequality – particularly within the education system – from an interdisciplinary approach. Through the coursework, I studied a system I am passionate about improving through both theoretical and research based lenses – and gained valuable skills along the way.
Though I am not working in a field directly related to the study of inequality (I work in market research), the work I did as part of my inequality minor was invaluable to where I am now. One of the most influential courses for me was Professor Musick’s Families and Social Inequality. Not only did the subject matter prove more interesting and complicated than I ever could have expected, but the way we approached it refined my way of thinking… about everything. I used to treat qualitative and quantitative approaches as an ‘either/or’ option. I would choose – based on available resources and a guess as to which would be more helpful – whether to address a research question from a qualitative or a quantitative perspective. Addressing key course questions from qualitative and quantitative lenses simultaneously, I learned that no one view is complete without the other. When I look at issues I come across now – within and outside of my job – I am equipped to weave together the complementary stories told by the qualitative and quantitative research.
In addition to modifying my way of thinking, the Inequality Studies minor helped me become a better citizen of my community in my time at Cornell. As a policy analyst for the Roosevelt Center for Education Policy and Development, I was able to piece together what I was learning in class and share the knowledge with my peers. The curriculum and research methodology I mastered through the minor helped me reach publication in the national 10 Ideas series two years in a row. In my role as a Public Achievement Coach with the Public Service Center, I had a heightened awareness of the diverse background of the students I worked with and the structural components in the backdrop of our time together. And I was able to apply knowledge from my coursework to help create a positive, inclusive learning environment.
The minor helped me refine my thinking process, make new connections and have an overall better understanding of the world around me. I am excited for students who have the privilege of engaging with the curriculum and the endless opportunities that follow. And I look forward to seeing the progress we make as we fight inequality together.”
Winnie Tong ‘14
“As a woman of color from Brooklyn, I have gained so much through the Inequality Studies minor because it allowed me to learn more about the structural and systematic issues within our society. Some of my favorite courses from this minor were ‘Social Inequality’ with Professor Weeden, ‘Urban Inequality’ with Professor Bischoff, ‘Prisons’ with Professor Katzenstein and ‘Sociology of Law’ with Professor York Cornwell. These courses were very challenging and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to evaluate the broader contexts of inequality.
Although I might not have found all the solutions to the larger issues we discussed in class, the minor definitely played a significant part in steering me onto a path of social justice and working with communities of color. During my time at Cornell, I was heavily involved with the Asian and Asian American community, having served as President of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, an Asian-interest sorority on campus. That experience allowed me to stay engaged with the communities of color on campus and is something I hold close to me now as I serve on the National Board of the organization. In my last semester at Cornell, I served as a TA for the Cornell Prison Education Program, teaching writing to prison inmates at Auburn. My experience with CPEP showed me the harsh realities behind everything we learned in class. It led me to become very passionate about our country’s mass incarceration epidemic and its failed war on drugs. As of Fall 2014, I am currently a Development Intern at the Drug Policy Alliance, and I am learning as much as I can to help fix our broken criminal legal system. In whatever spare time I have, I am studying for the LSAT in hopes of attending law school in the near future to become an attorney.”
Ethan Erickson ‘11
“Growing up in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, I saw stark inequalities between the impoverished inner city and the comfortable suburbs. I wanted to learn more about why this inequality existed and what could be done about it, particularly in regards to public policies and labor market institutions. The Minor in Inequality Studies provided me an opportunity to make sense of my experiences and to answer some of these questions. The minor was a fantastic complement to my degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. I learned about the crucial role labor unions play in alleviating inequality, collective bargaining, and influencing policy. Inequality studies also helped to break pre-conceptions about the poor. In modern media and politics, the image of the ‘welfare queen’ has been used to damage programs that help alleviate poverty. My studies demonstrated that poverty is not necessarily indicative of personal failing or laziness; there is a multitude of forces beyond one’s control, be they economic, societal, or historical that impact whether one ends up and stays in poverty. The Inequality Studies minor impressed upon me that policies and institutions need to take into account these wider forces. Back home in Wisconsin, I just finished being Field Organizer for Tammy Baldwin for US Senate. With the election now over, I am looking for opportunities in public policy, union organizing, and human resources.”
Olivia Fecteau ‘11
“I grew up in East Syracuse, NY and majored in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. Outside of ILR, I spent most of my time acting in musical theatre shows, working at the dining hall, competing on the Mock Trial team and serving as managing editor and editor-in-chief for The Ivy Journal of Ethics. I knew I wanted to pursue the Inequality Studies minor because I found myself gravitating toward courses in ILR that related to inequality and discrimination. I realized inequality is pervasive, from income inequality to differences in life outcomes due to gender, race, or background. The minor helped me focus my ILR studies and overall Cornell education to understand those dynamics. One of my favorite classes was a seminar I took with Professor Morgan my senior year: “Schooling, Racial Inequality, and Public Policy in America.” The class and the minor truly changed the way I look at so many situations. After Cornell, I received my master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. I’m currently a reporter for WSAZ-TV in Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia. The Inequality Studies minor has been invaluable to me in helping me understand underlying social and economic inequality in my reporting. To quote one of my grad school professors, ‘Diversity has everything to do with journalism. Diversity is journalism, if you do it right.’”
William Tananbaum ‘11
“I came to the Inequalities Studies minor rather late in my Cornell career – middle of junior year to be precise. Combined with my studies in Human Development and Psychology, courses such as Controversies About Inequality and Schooling, Racial Inequality, and Public Policy with Professor Stephen Morgan created a base of knowledge that I continue to utilize in my every day life. I am currently pursuing two Master’s Degrees, in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College and in Social Work from NYU, and I work on the side as a classroom tutor at a middle school in a low-income area of Washington Heights. My Inequalities Studies coursework and mindset have helped me immensely analyze and navigate through systems of institutional racism, public schooling, and public policy. The Inequalities Studies minor has really helped launch my professional career through my graduate studies and given me direction for how best to apply my skills and knowledge to achieve my goals to make our society a better place.”
Melissa Barry ‘10
Melissa graduated in 2010 with a BS in Human Development, minors in Inequality Studies and Law & Society, and a certificate in Gerontology Studies. During her time at Cornell, she was a Project Manager for the Emotion and Cognition Lab, President of Psi Chi, and was also involved in Sigma Delta Tau, Order of Omega, and Kappa Omicron Nu. During her junior year, she studied at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen. Melissa currently lives in New York City and is part of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network. Melissa graduated in May 2012 with her MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and currently works at a marketing communications company as an Organizational Development consultant. She writes: “Many of the classes that I took through CSI were my favorite courses at Cornell. Even though these classes didn’t directly have to do with my Cornell academic focus, they greatly supplemented my education and broadened my horizons. I am very cognizant of how inequality plays a role in so many different areas. I think the inequality minor program is incredibly beneficial and valuable no matter what line of work you will pursue in the future.”
Stina Rosenquist ‘10
When Stina was at Cornell, she majored in Policy Analysis and Management. She was a board member for Cornell Friends of Farmworkers, a student organization which tutors migrant farmworkers throughout Tompkins County in English. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Quito and Latacunga, Ecuador, where she took classes on international development and was also able to intern with a microfinance organization. Stina writes: “The inequality minor made me particularly aware of the inequities found in our country’s education system, which is why I am currently working as a tutor at MATCH Charter Middle School in Boston, MA. The school serves minority students from a number of Boston’s most impoverished neighborhoods.”
Adrien Dumoulin-Smith ‘09
Adrien Dumoulin-Smith is an honors graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. His concerns regarding inequality were fueled by his volunteer work with Project SHARE, a program to help feed and clothe the homeless of New York City while inviting friendship and conversation. In high school he was troubled by the long history of injustice and strife in the realm of workers’ rights. At Cornell, Adrien pursued a major in Industrial and Labor Relations and minors in Inequalities Studies, Law & Society, and Economics. He sees defense of workers’ rights as a key issue to global equality and the labor movement as a conduit toward international social justice. The son of a Belgian immigrant and grandson of an American Foreign Service officer, Adrien has an international curiosity that has driven him to travel across the globe, including a semester of study in China that had an intense impact on his world view. He has joined the fight for fairness and justice through his work for UNI Global Union in Switzerland and the former Food and Allied Service Trades Department, AFL-CIO in Washington, DC. He also has been involved on campus through organizations such as Cornell Students Against Sweatshops and the Cornell Organization for Labor Action.
Sally Ann Dunst ‘09
A native of Fredonia, NY, Sally is an honors graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences. Currently Sally lives in Baltimore and is earning a Master’s of Science in Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Sally’s interest in inequality relates to discrepancies in access to health care and health information, both in the U.S. and abroad. Specifically Sally is interested in working for universal access to reproductive health care including family planning. As a student at Cornell, Sally majored in sociology and completed a senior thesis on class differences in birth control use. She spent a semester abroad in Uganda studying development and health and researching access to family planning. Outside of academics, Sally was involved in Cornell Bridges to Community, for which she helped organize and teach a class on service-learning as well as lead annual service-learning trips to Nicaragua. She was also an officer of Sexual Awareness For Everyone (SAFE). After graduating from Cornell Sally served as a Peace Corps health volunteer in Rwanda for two years. Regarding the inequality concentration Sally writes: “The inequality concentration allowed me to focus my studies at Cornell on social stratification, resulting health disparities, and programs designed to address these issues. I developed an informed perspective on social justice and became well-prepared to witness, understand, and respond to challenges related to health care, poverty, and development. As an inequality concentration alumni I am confident in my ability to act as an engaged global citizen.”
Graham Rengert ‘09
Graham Rengert has been concerned about social inequality since childhood, but in his few years at Cornell these concerns developed into a passion for social justice. He began to understand how historic imbalances of power perpetuate the systemic injustices that produce inequality and he began to study the politics of oppression and people’s movements of resistance. His research and activism mainly focus on systems of criminalization and incarceration and the oppression of racial, gender, and sexual minorities in U.S. society. He is a senior in the Government Honors Program with minors in Spanish, International Relations, Africana Studies, Law & Society, Latin American Studies, Inequality, and Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Studies. Graham is a member of the Roosevelt Institution’s Equal Justice Group and a Roosevelt Institution Research Fellow studying policy responses to structural inequality as an intern with the Center for Social Inclusion. On campus he is a member of the Prison Activist Coalition, Direct Action to Stop Heterosexism, and the Women’s Resource Center Board. He knows that the Center for the Study of Inequality has helped him build an academic foundation for his future of activism and community organizing. Read the abstract of Graham’s paper on adoption policy and gay parents.
Lindsey Gael ‘08
Graduated in 2008 with a Sociology Degree and the Minor in Inequality Studies. While she was at Cornell, she volunteered at Lansing and MacCormick Correctional Facilities and was involved with prison activism student organizations throughout her undergraduate career. One of the highlights of this experience was teaching collaborative classes at the juvenile detention facility. She was also a CUSP participant one summer and independently designed and lead a summer program for disadvantaged young women in Harlem. After graduation, Lindsey worked for Green For All doing environmental justice work and promoting green job creation in low-income communities. She is currently working for the National Trust for Historic Preservation working on promoting retrofitting and reusing old buildings as a way to revitalize neighborhoods and be sustainable.
Elan Greenberg ‘08
Elan Greenberg ’08 is a Captain in the U.S. Marines and an alumnus of the College Human Ecology. As an undergraduate, he was the Student Assembly President and the undergraduate representative on the University Diversity Council – Working Group. During his final year at Cornell, he moderated a community diversity forum in the wake of racial tensions at Ithaca High School. Writing about a 2010 combat deployment to Southern Afghanistan in support of NATO, Elan says, “Understanding that policy decisions have second- and third-order effects in any community has proven to be extraordinarily valuable.” In his present job, he serves as a Marine Corps Officer Selection Officer in New York City – screening and selecting the highest qualified college students for various Marine Corps Officer Programs. “As the Marine Corps reaffirms its commitment to diversity at all levels in the chain of command,” Elan writes, “understanding the layered and complex issues surrounding this subject has provided a leg up for my team in New York, working with incredible students and families in diverse communities throughout the city.” To current students, he writes – “Place yourself outside of your mental comfort zone, ask questions, and find a mentor.”
Garima Malhotra ‘08
Garima Malhotra graduated from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Government. While at Cornell, she was the President of the Cornell International Affairs Society, a student-elected member to the College of Arts and Sciences Education Policy Committee and a teaching assistant for a class on leadership in non-profits at the College of Human Ecology. She also worked weekly at the Franziska Raker Center in Ithaca with students with disabilities. Her most gratifying experience at Cornell was working with prison inmates at Auburn State Prison for a senior incarceration seminar. After graduation, she worked at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a non-partisan public policy and law?institute that focuses on national issues of democracy and justice. Garima focused her time at the Brennan Center working on voting rights and redistricting. She is now a first-year law student at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, after which she hopes to pursue a career in public interest law.
Sarah Olesiuk ‘08
Hailing from Asheville, NC, Sarah Olesiuk is a Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar and a recent graduate with a major in Development Sociology and minors in Latino Studies and Inequality Studies. Sarah first became interested in inequality after visiting a small West Virginia town that was subject to the destructive coal mining process of mountaintop removal. She has since extended her interest in inequality into action through her work with Appalachian Voices, a non-profit environmental organization that seeks justice for the people and the environment of the central and southern Appalachians. Additionally, under the instruction of Cornell professor Ron Mize, Sarah was part of a three-year research project that mapped the settlement and migration trends among immigrants in upstate New York. At Cornell, Sarah also participated in the Cornell Urban Scholars Program, spending a summer in NYC working at the Legal Aid Society. Upon graduation, Sarah enrolled in law school at Boston College Law School and plans to use her law degree to make the world a more just place.
Michael Snyder ‘08
Michael Snyder’s interest in the field of inequality stemmed from his years as a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union Local 367 during high school in his hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington where he witnessed first hand some of the benefits trade unions can bring in alleviating inequality in the workplace. In pursuit of this interest Michael attended Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, graduating in May of 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Labor Relations. During his time in the ILR school Michael focused on the role of labor organizations in combating inequities in employment, spending a semester working with the Transport and General Workers’ Union in the United Kingdom as well as assisting in a national study of union organizing tactics and conducting senior honors thesis research on recent international union organizing campaigns. He now works for the Seattle office of the National Labor Relations Board investigating charges of unfair labor practices and conducting union representation elections in the workplace. On the Minor in Inequality Studies Michael writes: “The program not only provided me with a solid grounding in the field of inequality but also helped me to develop research skills that will undoubtedly be useful in the future.”
Matthew Amster ‘07
Currently works for Deutsche Bank as a Human Resource Advisor for their Corporate Investment Bank (CIB). He has worked with DB for 3.5 yrs and is heavily involved with Diversity initiatives at the Bank. He is one of 13 employees on the Steering Committee for their newest Employee Network the “NextGen” network which focuses on Generational Diversity in the workplace. Matthew writes: “I would say that my concentration has helped immensely as an HR Advisor for the Bank in understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and has played a significant role as a member of the steering committee of one of our diversity focused Employee Networks. The Bank puts a great deal of focus on diversity and having this background from Cornell has helped me advise the business on the merits of maintaining a diverse workplace as well as assisted in my efforts to raise awareness of generational diversity as part of the NextGen steering committee.”
Alan Benson ‘07
After graduating from ILR with concentrations in economics and inequality in 2007, Alan began a PhD at the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Now in his fourth year, his research concerns how the co-location problem in dual-career couples’ job search prompts women to enter geographically-flexible (but lower-paying) occupations. More information on this project can be found HERE. Alan writes: “As an economist, the inequality concentration has broadened my exposure to its many manifestations. For example, rather than just characterizing wage inequality or occupational segregation, I believe the inequality concentration helped me think about how these outcomes are embedded in the family decisions and educational pathways.”
Shane Dunn ‘07
Shane Dunn currently works as assistant director of student engagement in alumni relations and annual giving at the MIT Sloan School of Management, a position he began in September 2011. The primary function of his work is to create and foster a culture of engagement and awareness of the importance of alumni engagement and philanthropy across the School’s graduate student body. Prior to MIT Sloan, he worked at Tufts University and Harvard University. He received his master’s degree in higher education administration, which he completed as a part-time student, from Boston College in 2010. Since moving to Boston in September 2007, he has been involved in a number of volunteer activities, including mentoring, advocacy, and LGBT rights activities. Shane is also an active Cornell alumni volunteer, serving as: senior vice president of the Cornell Club of Boston; president and 5th Reunion co-chair of the Class of 2007; director-from-the-region for the Cornell Alumni Association Board of Directors; a member of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network; and Cornell Annual Fund National Campaign Committee volunteer fundraiser. He previously applied to, but deferred, MPA and EdD degrees. He does plan to eventually pursue a doctorate in organizational behavior, with the ultimate aspiration of becoming a college president. To Shane, working to provide access to a quality postsecondary education is the way in which he plans to tackle issues of inequality and social justice that he learned about during the Inequality Studies program at Cornell.
Ben Dunning ‘07
Ben grew up in Baltimore City, and began to recognize many of the stark inequalities in his hometown before going off to college. His senior year of high school, he performed a month-long internship at a pretty large local soup kitchen, which cemented his interest in serving the urban poor; after graduating from Cornell, he ended up back in Baltimore and spent a year as a volunteer coordinator at that same soup kitchen through an AmeriCorps program. At Cornell, Ben was a psychology major, but the Inequality concentration captured his passion for the underserved throughout the world. While at school, he also volunteered with Cornell University EMS for a couple years and served as the president of Cornell’s FCA chapter. After working for AmeriCorps, he spent four months in Africa (three working at an orphanage in rural Kenya, and one working with a friend who was doing Peace Corps in Guinea), which vastly broadened his perspective on global issues regarding poverty. For the past three years, he has been involved in a student organization at the University of Maryland, which collects donations of food, clothing and toiletries, and then delivers them twice a week along with bagged lunches for many homeless and working poor citizens in the city; this consistent participation has given him a unique and valuable longitudinal insight into urban poverty, at least in Baltimore. Ben writes, “During my time in Kenya, I was treated for an infection in a local hospital, and realized that with the tremendous opportunities I’d been given, it made sense to further my education in a field that would maximize my ‘usefulness’ for working with poverty abroad. Experiencing the abysmal state of the medical facility I visited prompted me to go into nursing; I started a graduate nursing program at the University of Maryland this past fall, and I plan to finish up next spring. Though I’m still torn between domestic service and using my skills abroad, as soon as I get the chance, I intend to work for a time with Doctors Without Borders or a similar organization.”
Allen Fung ‘07
A student within the College of Arts and Sciences, Allen double-majored in History and American Studies while obtaining minors in Inequality Studies, Asian American Studies, and East Asia Studies. At Cornell, he was the Editor-In-Chief of Parallax, an Asian American Activist Journal and the Vice-President of Asian Pacific Americans for Action. After graduating, Allen served with AmeriCorps as a City Year New York corps member. He was part of a team that taught inner-city students in New York City. Allen then interned at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City where he worked in the organization’s Youth Rights & Educational Equity Division. His work focused mainly on analyzing bias-based harassment statistics pertaining to New York City’s public schools and on analyzing educational equity with regards to English Language Learners in public school systems nationwide. Beginning in May, 2011, Allen will be attending Teachers College, Columbia University where he will pursue a master’s degree in social studies education with a focus on urban education. As a high school social studies teacher, Allen plans on devising a year-long survey course on diversity studies centered on the histories of America’s various minority populations. Allen writes: “The Inequality Studies minor was the catalyst that fostered my passion towards social justice, for which I will always be grateful. After studying in-depth the various forms of inequality (racial, gender, socio-economic, etc.) present throughout American history, I knew that I wanted to be part of the effort in correcting these various inequalities. I strongly encourage all Cornellians to explore what CSI has to offer.”
Sharon Jank ‘07
While working full-time as a custodian on campus, Sharon Jank completed her bachelor’s degree at Cornell in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies through the Employee Degree Program. Simultaneously working in the service sector while attending an elite university fostered Sharon’s interest in understanding mechanisms that generate inequality from a sociological perspective. Since graduating in 2007 after completing CSI’s Inequality Concentration and an honors thesis on educational inequalities and popular media, Sharon has spent a year at Cornell as a full-time PhD student in the Department of Sociology where her educational and employment experiences integrally shaped her research interests. Sharon is now a PhD student in the Sociology Department at Stanford University where she hopes her research in stratification, gender, and labor market organization will meaningfully contribute to contemporary debates surrounding poverty and inequality.
John Chu ‘06
A native of Brooklyn, New York, John Chu graduated from Cornell with a degree in Communication studies and a Minor in Inequality Studies. John currently lives in Washington, DC and is working as a senior communications specialist on clean energy issues with the U.S Department of Energy. John states: “Inequality studies has provided me with a solid foundation in understanding economic, education, and racial inequality, and gave me more in-depth subject knowledge to balance out the skills I was learning in the communication major. The minor played a big role in guiding my career interests towards public service. Students who are seeking the minor should consider it if they are interested in the subject matter and want to pursue careers in fields that are influential – such as law, communications, government, medicine, education, nonprofits, or business.”
Samantha Henig ‘06
Samantha Henig became interested in inequality after she relocated to an elite Manhattan private school from a large public school outside Washington, D.C. and saw firsthand how stark the differences in education can be. A 2006 graduate of Cornell with a degree in sociology, she is now the web editor for the New York Times Magazine and the co-author, with her mother, of “Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?” She has also worked at The New Yorker, Newsweek, and Slate. Samantha’s Cornell education and its emphasis on inequality has turned her into a more thoughtful, analytical writer, and her academic interests in education and the prison system have carried over into her professional life and inform the types of articles that interest her as a reader and an editor.
Sarah Vaughn ‘06
Sarah E. Vaughn is from Chicago, Illinois and graduated in 2006 as a College Scholar, studying both anthropology and sociology. While at Cornell, Sarah appreciated the flexibility of the Minor in Inequality Studies. She was able to explore a number of disciplines outside of her specific area of study while still focusing on her main research interests. After graduation, she began a PhD program in Anthropology at Columbia University. As a graduate student, Sarah is currently thinking about how NGOs shape nationalist discourse(s) about race and gender in Guyana. An integral part of her research is to understand the links between the work of academics, civil organizations and NGOs. Sarah writes that the classes she took for the Minor in Inequality Studies “directly influenced my current research and commitment to producing scholarly work that not only sheds light on issues about inequalities worldwide but also provides possible solutions.”
Anthony Panzera ‘05
Anthony was a Biology & Society (Endocrinology, Identity & Society) major at Cornell and worked as a research assistant and at the children’s science museum, Sciencenter. After graduation, he had no idea where he wanted to go or what specifically he wanted to do, but he did know that he was passionate about health disparity. He accepted a fellowship at the NIH and “did the bench science thing for a year.” After completing this work, he decided that while basic sciences are absolutely necessary for understanding disease, his true passion was addressing health issues, disparities, epidemiology, etc., on a scale larger than prions and cells. He completed his master’s of public health at Brown University, participating in various internships and research activities in Rhode Island as well as with the U.S. EPA in Washington, DC, and subsequently lived and worked in DC on policy initiatives related to Medicare. Currently, he is a PhD student in the Department of Community & Family Health at the University of South Florida. He writes: “Wherever I find myself, I am able to assert firm understanding of a wide range of issues because of the training and preparation I received from the Concentration. It gives me great confidence to speak intelligently and empathetically to a variety of audiences, from students and professors, to policy makers and federal and state health officials, to affected community members and more. I encourage current Cornell students to not only actively participate in the Concentration but incorporate it into career goals.”
Genevieve Quist ‘05
Genevieve Quist is currently pursuing a doctorate in Social Policy at the University of Oxford through a Rhodes Scholarship, where she focuses on the intersection of urban housing and education policies. The 2005 Salutatorian of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Genevieve minored in Inequality and Law and Society. Her senior honors thesis on single-mother families and welfare reform, as well as her undergraduate research on rural childhood poverty, are directly rooted in what she learned through the Minor in Inequality Studies. After graduation, this Williston, Vermont native served as a Teach For America corps member in Los Angeles, where she worked to help her students make significant academic gains in a very low-income middle school. Genevieve writes: “The content I learned through the Minor in Inequality Studies were my motivation for joining Teach For America and pursuing graduate work in public policy.”
Tara Leigh Castle ‘05
Tara Leigh Castle has made it a personal mission to effect positive change in the communities where she lives. After graduating in 2005 with a degree in sociology, she continued at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs earning her Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Tara is now a Development and Program Associate with the Young Women’s Leadership Foundation in New York, an organization whose goal is to provide top-notch, all-girls public education for disadvantaged children. In this rewarding career, Tara sees first-hand the elimination of educational inequalities can result in greater opportunity for her students. Tara writes: “The classes at Cornell, and specifically the Minor in Inequality Studies, provided a great foundation for this line of work.”
Carmela Blackman ‘04
Carmela has been part of the Fragrance Marketing team at Coty Beauty US for the past 2 years. Previously working on the Global Marketing team at Clinique, she majored in Sociology focusing on Business & Organizational Studies as well as Inequality Studies. Regarding the minor in Inequality, she writes: “Having some knowledge of what people are facing within their own cultures / social groups has added to my own character and enables me to draw from a greater perspective when I make decisions within my personal and career life.” Recently, Carmela has become more involved in business and organizational strategy, planning to take on a larger role within Consumer Product Goods.
Josh Tetrick ‘04
Since graduating in 2004 with dual majors in sociology and government, Josh has taken his passion and expertise across a range of global initiatives. An organization he founded, TelosWorks, engages companies and students around the world on how solving our biggest needs create dynamic opportunities to make a difference. He led a United Nations business initiative in Kenya, worked for both former President Clinton and the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and taught street children as a Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria. Of the Minor in Inequality Studies he writes: “The seeds of my interest in finding novel solutions to our world’s biggest needs lie in the experiences provided by the Minor in Inequality Studies.”
Josh is also the founder and CEO of TelosMarkets, a clean energy investment firm; and, TelosWorks.org, an organization that fuels clean energy job creation in Africa. He is a proud graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan Law School. Read more about Josh and his work here: Huffington Post, Washington Post and Times Dispatch.
Originally from Upstate New York, Kaitlin Tierney now resides in Washington, DC and works for the World Bank Institute, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Sector. She works for the Public Sector Governance Program, which promotes responsive, responsible, and accountable public governance in developing countries. The program reaches political leaders, senior policymakers, legislators, managers, practitioners at various levels, technical experts, civil society leaders, academics, and scholars. Kaitlin graduated from Cornell in 2004 with a degree in sociology and writes: “The Minor in Inequality Studies through Cornell has provided me with the foundational knowledge that is applied to my work at the World Bank.”