Libby Calovich

What do you do professionally?

Libby helps patients and families at Seattle Children’s Hospital with a range of social services related to medical care, with a particular emphasis on cochlear implant patients. These children, ranging between 12 months and 20 years old, are profoundly deaf or hard of hearing, and receive an internal hearing device implanted through a surgical procedure. Libby assists the patients and families through a host of services related to housing, insurance, rehabilitation, and scheduling. She describes her work as “behind the scenes” as a coordinator and advocate for the patients.

How did your Sociology degree help prepare you for your work?

“I use my degree particularly with the different socioeconomic classes we see at the hospital. I think I have more empathy and compassion than others, and I’m able to understand where people are coming from and connect with patients and their families. I also think my Sociology background helps me get information from people, often vital information that has real consequences for recovery. Even some of our MDs have trouble reading between the lines, but I’m pretty good at digging for information. Most importantly, I think my education about gender inequality is something I carry with me every day. I find myself in meetings thinking about an idea to assert, and when I’m weighing in my head whether to speak up or not, I’ll think ‘would a man say it?’ If the answer is yes, then I always speak up. I’m fortunate to work with successful career women, but I’m also very aware of gender roles in the workplace.”

Did you have a favorite class in the Sociology Department?

“Any of Jen’s classes. I was originally a Theater major, and by definition you sort of have to be self-promoting, and tell the world how great you are. Gender and Society with Dr. Lois shook me to my core. It really turned everything in my life upside down for me, and I realized I wanted to be helping others, caring about others, and empowering others.”

If you could go back to Sociology at WWU all over again, would you do anything differently?

“My big regret is not having done a study-abroad course. I was trying to save money and get in and out in four years, but in hindsight I wish I would have tried to add in an opportunity to study abroad, particularly in a less economically developed country. I always tell 18 year olds to study abroad, because your ability to sacrifice creature comforts gets harder over time.”

What career advice would you offer for current Sociology majors?

“My biggest piece of advice is that if you are interested in a Masters in Social Work, go do social work for a year or two first. I think it is important to actually know what you are getting into and if you want to be dedicated to that profession. I know a lot of people who jumped into a MSW program and then realized it wasn’t really for them. I’ve also realized that you can do so many things with a Sociology degree. If you figure out what you want to do, you don’t necessarily need another degree and more debt in order to do it.”

What are your favorite ways to spend time when you are not working?

“I like to volunteer a lot. I’m always trying to be active with organizations like Sacred Heart Shelter, a local group working with the homeless, and the opportunities to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital. I’ve also done the Susan G. Komen walk for three years, and I’ve raised over $12,000 towards breast cancer research and treatment. Otherwise I just enjoy movies and museums, watching TV, and spending time with my husband and family. One of my brothers and my dad live here in Seattle, which is great!”