Welcome to our first ever Featured Graduate Spotlight! This is an opportunity for us to introduce current majors to recent graduates and what they’re doing now – which means it’s also an opportunity for current majors to learn how to make the most out of their time here, and how to prepare for the next step of your life with your sociology degree in hand!
Today, we’re introducing you to Maggie Yuse, who graduated in 2015. Department, meet Maggie; Maggie, meet Department!
Maggie is currently the Legislative Assistant to WA State Senator Kevin Ranker, and has previously worked as a campaign manager and as a session aide. Maggie participated in the Sociology Honors Program and wrote her senior thesis on the role of mental health stigma and policing, demonstrating that having a mental illness has an independent effect on the likelihood of being arrested.
1. How did you decide to major in sociology?
I pursued a couple different majors with little success when I started at UW. I was just
starting to feel hopeless when my counselor suggested I take an introductory Sociology
course. I quickly realized it was the right fit. Human behavior and social structures are
so fascinating and all-encompassing. It’s a total cliché but as soon as you find something you’re interested in, you excel. Although at the time I did not know where Sociology would lead me, it ended up translating very well into a career in politics.
2. What was your favorite Sociology class at UW?
I cannot overemphasize the value of the Sociology Honors program! A challenging and, at times, seemingly insurmountable task, writing my senior thesis afforded me the most academic growth out of all my years at UW. The program allows you to expand your network and create lasting relationships with faculty and peers, all while becoming an expert in a field you care about.
3. Did you have a favorite Sociology professor or TA?
It’s difficult to choose! Professor Jerry Herting and Tim Thomas (now Dr. Tim Thomas!) were my mentors for my senior thesis and I loved working with them both. From helping me explore my research possibilities to providing insightful feedback and
encouragement, they supported me throughout the entire process. Out of all the classes
I took, I would have to say Professor Tolnay was my favorite professor. He was an
effective teacher and obviously cared a lot about his undergraduate students.
4. What is one thing you wish you had known at the beginning of the program that you want to tell new Sociology majors?
Take advantage of the resources available to you! Go to office hours, get to know your professors and TAs, reach out to your academic advisor, go to the Mary Gates symposium and other extracurricular events, and find ways to be involved. 80% of success is showing up!
5. How did participating in experiential learning help you make connections between what you learned in the classroom and life beyond the university?
I took SOC404 and interned with the Seattle Municipal Mental Health Court. Not only was it an essential resume builder, it directly reflected the real-world consequences of the research I was doing for my thesis. Studying how Seattle police interact with people with mental illnesses, I witnessed how the criminal justice system treats people with mental illnesses, which helped me decide that I wanted to take on this societal problem at a higher level.
6. How did you find your first job after graduation? Any advice for our current Sociology majors as they prepare to enter the workforce?
I wanted to apply the expertise I gained writing my senior thesis and learn about creating institutional change on issues like mental health, policing, and the criminal justice system. State level government seemed like the perfect place to start, so I pursued a session position in the legislature. Informational interviews and networking were key to landing my first job. Ask around – you may be pleasantly surprised to find that a friend of a friend of your sister works in the field and is willing to have coffee with you or edit your resume. Of course, writing skills, professionalism and a little persistence also go a long way. Remember: you probably won’t get the first job you apply for, but that doesn’t mean you failed! Learn something from each experience and move on.
7. How are the skills and ideas you learned as a Sociology major relevant to your job or your life now?
Almost all legislation can be evaluated through a Sociological lens. Social stratification and income inequality, race and ethnicity, social change, and so many other sociological concepts are impacted by policy proposals and governing in general.
One of my favorite moments this session was when the Legal Financial Obligations (LFO) Bill HB 1783 passed. I had learned about the detrimental impacts of LFOs on low-income and minority populations by reading Professor Alexes Harris’s research as an undergrad. This year Washington State eliminated interest accrual on non-restitution portions of LFOs. It was incredibly exciting to see progress on an issue that Professor Harris has thoroughly researched. I think it is imperative that sociological research be considered in lawmaking.
8. What’s your favorite place to eat in the U-District?