When Lisa White ’18 chose to major in sociology at Randolph, she did it with her 14-year-old daughter in mind. Her child was also the inspiration for a Summer Research project she is conducting about feminism and activism.
“This interests me because my daughter is African American and I want to fight for her rights for when she goes out into the world,” White said. “I don’t know that a lot of changes will be made in my lifetime, but I want them to happen in hers.”
During the eight-week program, White and sociology professor Danielle Currier are studying the sociological aspects of the Women’s March on Washington and interviewing attendees of the massive, historic event that drew millions of protesters to Washington, D.C. in January. The participants they have surveyed are both males and females ranging from 21-66 years old, and include college students, Randolph faculty, and others from rural areas of Virginia.
The project is part of a larger study by Currier, who will conduct further research while on sabbatical during the 2017-18 academic year. For White, the Summer Research program was an opportunity to work with one of her favorite professors, learn how to conduct qualitative research, and get a head start on future work of her own.
“I’m loving every minute of this project, and Professor Currier makes every step of this very interesting,” White said. “She’s a wonderful professor and person, so I’m enjoying it and learning tons that I’ll be able to use for my Senior Paper.”
So far, White has learned quite a bit about why people chose to attend the Women’s March, as well as why some who wanted to attend weren’t able. Though she was among those unable to attend, White has discovered that she is still considered an activist, by definition.
“One of the things we’ve talked about is that in my teaching I’m an activist. And she’s raising a daughter, which is activism too,” Currier said. “The idea of activism having to be marching in the street or showing up at a congressman’s door is not the case. Activism is finding ways in your life to create or try to create social change or changes in attitudes and perceptions and people’s behaviors.”
As a primetime student, White’s husband and daughter have also benefited directly from the Summer Research program by attending seminars and participating in some of the off-campus activities.
“It’s wonderful for my daughter, especially, to be here and see these students because it gives her a view of what she will be able to do when she graduates from high school,” White said. “She’s gotten to know some of the other Summer Research students better than I do!”
“I think this is such an amazing program,” Currier added. “It really allows students to delve into their own topic or a professor’s topic. This and the RISE grant are two of the most amazing things this school does for its students.”