Beverly Pratt, an advanced PhD student and former Newsletter editress, caught up with Rose Kreider, an 03’ alum who now works at the Census Bureau. Beverly asked Rose about her background, how she came to UMD, her life and career after graduate school, and her perspective on “intellectual maturation.”
I came to the UMD graduate program in Sociology after having worked for a few years after getting my undergraduate degree in another field. I’m a Marylander, so it made sense to go to graduate school locally, especially with a strong program available in my back yard. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UMD. I took Suzanne Bianchi’s Family Demography course in my first term, and have pursued related topics ever since. My work has focused on subjects like interracial marriage, living arrangements of children, adoption, cohabitation, and marriage and divorce patterns in the US.
I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore as part of an identifiable religious minority. Before going to grad school, I worked at a nonprofit in DC, so I had often thought about norms, social sanctions, interaction among divergent social groups, social inequality and other issues related to group patterns of behavior. After graduating from UMD, I went to work as a demographer at the US Census Bureau. I still work there, in the same area–the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. We cover topics from households and families to childcare, marital patterns, living arrangements, coupled households, and child well-being. Jobs in the federal government are less research focused than in academia, but we get a chance to truly understand the data inside and out, since we are responsible for processing it and making it available to the public. I like being able to assist others in using Census Bureau data, and being involved in working to revise and improve data collection and dissemination.
The “sociological imagination” is not something you can turn off once you’ve started looking at the world that way. Although demographers are sometimes accused of lacking imagination of any kind, given our tendency to focus on data, it’s easy to find a sociological approach in everything from sci-fi literature to comedy that comments on society.
If I had any advice for current graduate students, it would be to build connections with others. Regardless of the type of job you end up in, you will benefit from your links to fellow researchers. I still turn to members of my cohort at UMD to help me sort things out in analytical projects, or to help generate new ideas. It’s fun to work on projects you can complete yourself, but a lot of the best work comes out of partnerships that allow a broader understanding of the research problem and a wider array of possible analytical approaches. Recently more attention is being paid to potential gains from projects that involve researchers from various fields of study. So get to know the people you sit next to in class at UMD–you’re likely to be working with some of them in one capacity or another throughout your career.
Rose Kreider, Ph.D.
Chief, Fertility and Family Statistics Branch
Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division
US Census Bureau