Reflecting on Mentorship with Merrill Scholar, Katie Donnelly Moran ’18

I sat down with Katie Donnelly Moran, who this weekend, graduated with a double major in Development Sociology and IARD. Last week, she was honored as a Merrill Presidential Scholar in a ceremony that also recognized high school and university mentors who contributed to the student’s success. Katie recognized Development Sociology department member, Sarah Giroux as her university mentor.

how did you decide on undertaking the development sociology Major?

I came to Cornell thinking – ok, I was going to study agriculture and then run away to a farm when I’m done.

I started with the international agriculture and rural development major. Because it was so multi-disciplinary and I was taking so many DevSoc classes, I thought I might as well take the requirements for the major too.

I was definitely propelled to think about it through my work with Sarah Giroux. Her mentorship helped me delve more deeply into the social sciences.

How did you first meet Sarah?

I took the ‘perspectives in international agriculture and rural development’ class with her and then I took the research methods class the next semester.

Was access to strong mentorship a key resource for you in the Devsoc program?

Definitely. That was a highlight of the program and just in general, my time at Cornell has definitely been shaped by having Sarah as a mentor.

What are you carrying forward from the major into your post grad plans?

Most concretely, how to do social science research, as I’m going to be a research assistant with a team of economists at UC-Berkeley this summer. Right now, I’m thinking about pursuing that more long term in a career.

As an academic?


A sociologist? An economist?

I’m going to try out econ and see how I feel about it. My mom studied econ, my brother is working on a econ phD, so I’ve always been – “I don’t want to do econ”, but I’ll put my foot in the door and see how I feel about it.

You’ve had a lot of success in the undergraduate program – what advice would you give to students just joining?

It is a broad major – in addition to the requirements, take classes that align with your interests. Dive deeper into what you are interested in. And Try to find a professor to talk to and engage with – that has really been formative.


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