February 07 2017
“Five Under Five” is a new series that features a question and answer session with an Elmira alumnus who graduated within the last five years. Today, meet Katherine (Kat) Slye who graduated Elmira in the Astonishing Class of 2012 with a bachelor of arts in history and political science. Kat is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in political science with a focus on public policy and American politics at SUNY Albany. She received her master’s degree in December of last year. Her dissertation revolves around lobbying strategies of abortion interest groups at the state and federal level. Kat currently lives in Washington D.C. and is working as a graduate assistant for the University at Albany semester in Washington program while working on her dissertation.
1. What is your fondest memory of your time at Elmira?
Oh, there are so many to choose from! I can't just pick one. Sitting with former President Dr. Meier at the Holiday Banquet my sophomore year was special and I always enjoyed being an Orientation Leader. Getting to meet the new students and help them get ready for college was rewarding and fun. And the singing, of course, the singing! Meeting the alumni - they always had great stories about their time at EC and their experiences. It was always cool to hear how things had been different, such as each class had a blazer of a different color and there used to be buddies where each freshman was paired up with usually a sophomore. Serving on committees - I served on and chaired the Reunion committee, was the Academic Chair for Orientation, and the Chair for Octagon Fair. These experiences really taught me how to be a leader and work with a group to put on a complex event. They gave me confidence in myself and my abilities that I carried forward into my graduate career.
2. What is the most valuable lesson you learned in or out of the classroom at Elmira?
That is a hard question. One thing that comes to mind isn't a lesson, but a skill - writing. I wrote so many research papers it must have totaled over 500 pages by the end of my senior year. But I know I improved. I took courses that forced me to write and write well. I had professors who gave me detailed feedback I could learn from and apply not only to that class but my writing in general. Hard work pays off. I took many Myra Glenn classes, 8 in total, and the last paper I wrote for her was in the senior seminar. I had gotten many papers back from her COVERED in red ink with how I could do better, even though it was a good grade. When I got my final seminar paper back, I counted 5 pages with red marks out of 25! I was so proud and knew that all those years of writing, editing, and rewriting for her paid off!
3. How did your experience at Elmira impact your passions in your career and who you are today?
My education at Elmira greatly changed what I wanted to do with my life. When I started at EC, I was going to make my own journalism major. It only took me a few weeks to figure out that wasn't going to be possible, so I declared my history major. By the end of my freshman year I had also declared political science. At the time, I planned to go to law school and thought both were great majors to have. I took a practice LSAT and did well; if I had studied before the real one I believe I could have done well. Then I started taking my political science classes and my interests began to change. By my junior year, I decided I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. I wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college like Elmira and help other students realize their true calling and passions.
4. What advice do you have for current undergrads or students considering attending Elmira?
If you want to be anonymous, this is not the place for you. But if you want to have a community, strong friendships, faculty that know you by name, and a fantastic learning environment, Elmira College is for you. There is always something to do, some way to grow.
5. What is the best thing about being an Elmira alum?
I can always go back and feel right at home and welcomed!
The next "Five Under Five" story features Daniel Bastardo Blanco ’12, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
If you are interested in being featured as part of the "Five Under Five" series, please contact Julie Fielding.