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  Cathy Zimmer, Ph.D. 1989

  I started in the UNC Sociology PhD program in 1980. It was the beginning of the best years of my life. I had discovered Sociology late in my undergraduate career as a math and statistics major. It had caught me off guard – I had not known what it was and I was smitten immediately. It was an intellectual space where I could apply my quantitative analysis skills on important work that fascinated me. UNC ended up being a perfect fit for me. 

    I had thought I would be a demographer, and I was, through my master’s degree, but then I discovered organizational sociology was my passion when I served as a TA for Peter Marsden, my primary mentor throughout grad school. I regrouped and took the needed course work with Dick Simpson and Howard Aldrich – two more vital mentors. 

     My training in quantitative social data analysis, for which UNC Sociology is well known, could not have been better. I spent many hours at the Institute for Research in Social Science (IRSS) with my fellow graduate students. 

    In addition to the work and fun of grad school, my family was a source of many adventures during these same years. Kevin, my husband and partner, came to Chapel Hill with me and worked as an executive at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC. His emotional and professional support, including constantly proofreading my work, was boundless. We had two sons — David in 1983 and Matthew in 1987. These three wonderful guys gave me much needed breaks from and perspective on academic life. 

    The rest as they say is history. I went on to join the Sociology faculty at NC State University in 1987 and came back to UNC in 2002. I am a quantitative sociologist to this day – teaching and serving on doctoral committees in the Sociology Department and working at IRSS, or as it is now known, the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. 

    Most important of all, my best friends and colleagues largely come from my long years (38 so far) associated with UNC Sociology.

submitted July 2018