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Meet Our Students: Ayesha Mitha

August 9, 2017
Hometown: Eagan, MN 

Major: Sociology BA with Honors
Minor: Global Studies

Why did you choose to major in sociology? Was there a specific course, specific faculty member, soc research experience, study abroad, or other experience that helped you decide soc was the major for you?

During orientation the summer before my freshman year my honors advisor was listening to me describe my interests, she suggested that I take a soc class along with all my other requirements. The 1001 class with Cawo Abdi was my favorite that semester so I signed up for another soc class in the spring with Cawo and I decided that sociology was without a doubt what I wanted to study while at the U.

What has been your favorite part of your experience with the department and within the major?

Personally I have gotten a lot of help from going to see my professors during office hours because it helped me to build lasting relationships with them which extends way beyond their specific class. They have been invaluable advisors for me on everything from scholarships writing to interview prep, so don’t take them for granted! The connections I made with professors also helped me to become both and Research Assistant and a Teaching Assistant, and recently helped me win the University nomination for the Rhodes Scholarship. And while I’m sure every department has wonderful professors, the soc department in my experience has faculty that always goes the extra mile for anyone who makes an effort :)

Do you have any study abroad, internship, and/or research experience with a soc faculty member, and if so, how has that experience shaped your future career goals as well as your understanding/applying of sociological concepts/what you’ve learned?

I have been a RA for Professor Cawo Abdi for over 2 years, and it has given me a real inside look at academic life. I have helped her with her main project, but also the smaller essays and talks that she is asked to give periodically. It has also motivated me to work harder in a lot of my classes. The required courses for the major, methods, theory and stats were much more enjoyable and fulfilling because I could see the ways in which they applied to what I was working.

How does a major in sociology help you reach your post graduation goals?

Coming into college I was convinced that I wanted to pursue a law degree after my undergraduate. But after spending time in the department working closely with some of my professors both as a TA and a RA, I am looking at potentially pursuing a PhD in sociology. The experiences that the soc department at the U provides for its undergraduate students, giving us the opportunity to TA, work on research and providing access to internships and scholarships has made me much more engaged in the field and ready to pursue a higher degree.

What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in declaring a sociology major?

Take the time to talk to any of your professors, I know that is extraordinarily cliche advice but I promise it helps. I had taken two classes with Professor Cawo Abdi and I really enjoyed her teaching so I went in and talked to her a few times that second semester (I met with her the first semester too, so definitely go see your professors!) We talked it through and I decided that moving my major from the biological sciences to sociology was the best fit for me! Then go meet with Bobby, who will also make sure you know exactly what you are doing.

Have you worked part-time/full time while in school, and if so, how has balancing work and school impacted your path to degree completion (enriched your program of study, delayed time to degree completion, etc.)?

I have worked part time my whole college career, doing several different things. I find that personally the more I keep myself occupied the better my focus on everything. If I have too much free time I end up getting nothing done, but if I am working it forces me to schedule time to do my homework, and study.