Talor Hopkins

What do you do professionally?

Talor is a youth development volunteer with Peace Corps in Swaziland (Southern Africa).  She works with Swazi counterparts in schools and other youth organizations in the rural community she has been living in.  Her primary role is to work with her partners to design and implement projects focused on HIV prevention, English literacy, and women's empowerment

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

"My sociology degree helped prepare me for Peace Corps in many ways.  I currently live in a country where it is not uncommon for a man to have multiple wives, for women to be uneducated and oppressed, and where HIV prevalence is the highest in the world.  My sociology degree has helped me to see the multiple ways these conditions are connected, and where the roots of these problems come from, rather than to just react with frustration.  Several of the sociology classes I took at Western were directly related to issues that I see Swazis facing every day, such as gender and income inequality, race relations, and the impacts of foreign aid on developing countries.  Additionally, the US government requires Peace Corps volunteers to submit a lot of information about our work to justify our funding.  I am always measuring and evaluating the success of my projects and turning those statistics into reports for the organization.

Did you have a favorite class in the Sociology Department?

"I had several favorite classes!  Global Health with Liz Mogford and Gender and Society with Jen Lois stand out as classes I actually looked forward to every week... Which I suppose makes a lot of sense now that I'm working in a developing country on health and gender issues!

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

"I can't say I would do anything differently, but I would love to go back just so I could relive the quarter of my sociology capstone, which was spent in Kenya and Rwanda through a program with the Service Learning department (best choice ever)!

What career advice would you offer for current Sociology majors?

"My advice to current Sociology majors would be to get connected with organizations in Bellingham that are doing the work you're interested in.  Students at WWU are pretty lucky to have access to a community full of opportunities for students, and the sociology department is really well-connected with a lot of groups that are doing great work.  It's a rewarding feeling when what you're learning in class and what you're experiencing as a volunteer/intern/employee relate to each other, and it's a great way to narrow down an area of career interest.\

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

"When I'm not working, I spend a lot of time reading, walking around the village practicing my siSwati on anyone who will listen, and watching Disney movies with the local kids.  I also occasionally escape to the capital city for a treat that reminds me of home, like a slice of pizza or a night out dancing with friends!"