'I learned how to translate theoretical concepts into practical policy interventions'

Tamara Frith

Bronx, N.Y.     

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

During my time at Cornell, I had the opportunity to design and conduct my own research for my senior honors thesis. My thesis explored the influence of the criminal justice system on the higher persistent poverty rates among single Black mothers across the U.S. For this project, I employed an intersectional approach to better conceptualize the role of race, gender and socioeconomic status in the heightened degrees of racial discrimination and bias that Black unmarried women experience on the basis of their multiplicative identities. 

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My goal with this research wasn't just academic; it was deeply rooted in my fervor for advocacy and social justice. I sought to amplify the voices of single Black mothers and challenge the stigma and biases that they face in their interactions with the criminal justice system. This is by far my proudest and most fulfilling achievement, as it allowed me to draw from a wide range of disciplines and tap into insights from history, social psychology and criminology to inform my research questions and methodologies. Moreover, I learned how to translate theoretical concepts into practical policy interventions aimed at addressing real-world issues based on the recommendations of the communities being researched. 

This experience was transformative in shaping my aspirations for the future. It solidified my desire to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology, as I realized my skills and abilities as a sociologist and researcher. Through this opportunity, I gained the confidence to continue exploring complex and dynamic social issues, empowering marginalized communities and striving to make a meaningful impact through research.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first-year student, what would you say?

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Embrace the opportunity to explore, evolve and expand your horizons. It's all part of the journey. To my fellow FGLI (first-generation low-income) students, take advantage of every opportunity Cornell has to offer — whether it’s participating in research projects, joining clubs and organizations, creating your own major or studying abroad. Allow every experience, even the ones that change you as a person, to expand your beliefs, challenge your assumptions and help you grow as an individual and scholar.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to finally be out of academia after obtaining my Ph.D. in sociology and traveling around the world to present my research and give guest lectures. By this time, I hope to have further honed my storytelling abilities in order to amplify marginalized voices and empower communities.

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2024.

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Tamara Frith