30 in 30 proudly features the accomplishments of thirty UIC Sociology alumni over the course of thirty weeks. Each week, we feature a new alumnus/a of the department. The individuals profiled were each interviewed by one of our very own graduating seniors, who had the opportunity to learn about the many fascinating paths our alumni take. Scroll down to learn more about your fellow alums!
Do you want to be profiled? Email Kirsten at email@example.com to get on the list for an upcoming semester!
Dr. Mildred Schwartz, Professor Emerita
BA, Sociology, University of Toronto, 1954
MA, Sociology, University of Toronto, 1956
PhD, Sociology, Columbia University, 1965
Dr. Mildred Schwartz was raised in Toronto, Canada, and attended the University of Toronto, where she found sociology. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, she went on to work in a government agency, a workplace she found to be rife with sexism. Inspired by her work experience, Mildred decided to return to school, with hopes of effecting change. She finished her master’s degree in sociology in 1956, after which she started to work at an advertising agency. However, her love of sociology drew her once more, and she applied and completed her PhD in sociology at Columbia University in 1965. She applied to many teaching positions in the United States after finishing her degree and found a job with UIC’s Circle Campus!
A lifetime love of sociology
Dr. Schwartz’s favorite part about her academic career is research and writing. She also very much enjoyed spending time with her undergraduate students. Mildred says she loves the field of sociology because it is limitless! Sociologists never run out of questions to ask and there are always new and different ways to go about finding answers.
Despite her success, Dr. Schwartz did encounter hardships in her career. One of her main battles was against the frequent sexism she encountered. For instance, she did not receive equal pay compared to her male counterparts, endured discriminatory remarks, and faced resentment for her success in publishing and teaching. Despite these challenges, she forged ahead and had – and continues to have – a successful career.
Advice for current students
Dr. Schwartz believes that a sociology degree is suitable for many fields. She has worked for a government agency, advertising agency, and in the academic field using her sociology degrees. She also says there are many not-for profit and some for profit agencies that hire students with sociology degrees. Undergraduate students learn statistics and theory that is very beneficial in a wide variety of workplaces. Dr. Schwartz says that although the world is a very different place than it was in her time, sociology is as relevant as it has ever been because it teaches you to be more intelligent about the world in which we live. She says if she could go back in time and give herself a piece of advice, it would be to have more confidence in herself. She grew up in a household where she was not encouraged to continue her studies, and she encourages others to be confident in their interests and capabilities.
Prolific, even in retirement!
Mildred is currently retired and resides in New Jersey. However, she still does sociology for fun! In her free time, she reads and writes about sociology because it keeps her engaged in the world. For fun, she likes to go to New York University to spend time with students and colleagues. Five years from now, she sees herself starting a new project and to continue publishing books. Someday she says she will really retire and take a break from her academic career…just not any time soon!
Interviewed by Stephanie Munoz