Centre College alumna Rachel Skaggs ’11, who is currently completing a P.h.D program at Vanderbilt University, will return to campus in August to work with John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology Beau Weston’s theory camp.
Skaggs attended Weston’s theory camp as a rising senior, and she is looking forward to attending again in August.
“Theory camp includes a large volume of tough theoretical reading,” she said. “The small group of students selected for this exciting camp all read and work through the material in a way that is very similar to a P.h.D-level seminar course. Good coffee, important books and smart people come together to make this a great week of study.
“I have been lucky to continue my relationship with Dr. Weston over the years since I graduated from Centre,” she added. “I get the honor of being more of a colleague now.”
At Centre, Skaggs majored in anthropology and sociology and minored in psychology. In graduate school at Vanderbilt, she continued her studies in sociology.
In July, Skaggs will defend her dissertation, which examines the careers of Nashville songwriters as a case-in-point for understanding how informal careers are structured.
“In the U.S., work relations have trended away from stability and toward precarity since around 1980, and insights from the works of artists bring important insights to things, like how people use social network connections to find opportunities and the informal places where bias and discrimination can happen,” she explained.
Skaggs initially started her dissertation project as her capstone paper for Weston’s sociology seminar. As a John C. Young Scholar, she was able to turn her paper into a documentary film.
“Having that experience at Centre definitely prepared me for graduate school, and that paper was my writing sample for my graduate school application,” she said.
Skaggs also said that mentors on campus and in her study abroad program, these include professors like Weston; Phyllis Passariello, W. George Matton Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus; President John A. Roush; and Jan Wertz, associate professor of psychology, were instrumental in her development.
“Lastly, being a Bonner Scholar and then being a Bonner coordinator on campus helped me develop my ability to learn about important social issues and work on projects that help people meet their own needs,” she continued.
In August, Skaggs will start a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt’s Club Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy. She is also looking forward to presenting her research in Edinburgh, Philadelphia and Beijing by the end of 2018.
by Kerry Steinhofer
June 21, 2018