Associate Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Queens College

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Reminiscing about My Professors

A momentary thought about how our professors influenced us.
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Can anyone remember times when one of your grad school professors just dropped a statement in passing that completely oriented your approach to work for the rest of your life?

For me, there’s a bunch. But this morning, I’m thinking of my first class in graduate school, which was an intro grad methods class taught by the great Alejandro Portes (what a privilege to learn from him!).

I remember he looked at all of us with a serious face, and said, “At Princeton, we are positivists, and if you are not a positivist then you have no business being here.” I took him to mean empiricist and focused on cumulative knowledge contribution through empirics.

And I was like, “gulp” and became a pretty dedicated empiricst from then on in. I came into grad school having worked on “maximize the linear system” type of work prior to Princeton. It was a great path. It very much influenced my work here at Queens College, including my work in the Master’s Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research.

Well, enough reminiscing and I should get back to work. But what a privilege to be a scholar, and to learn from such smart, studied people, and eventually to have the privilege to be part of that tradition in some way!

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