Our undergraduate student spotlight is on Lawrence Mudd. Lawrence is a sociology major,focusing on social stratification. In fact, he’s a graduating senior with only a few weeks left before finishing up his Bachelor’s degree. Lawrence is a Maryland native who grew up in Oxon Hill and currently resides in Brandywine. I caught up with Lawrence and had a chance to speak with him about his time at the University of Maryland. Here’s what he had to say.
Why did you decide to attend the University of Maryland?
It was always “the school” in my mind. Because I’m a kid from PG County, any time we had school field trips or anything like that and it was to a college, it was here because it was the closest school and it’s the flagship school of the state. So, in my mind when I pictured college growing up, it looked a lot like this campus: the big rolling mall and all that kind of stuff, big red buildings, that was it. When I was applying to school, I applied to other schools, but I never really had any intentions of going anywhere but here. One of my happiest moments was getting into my dream school.
What led you to major in sociology?
I came into the university as a psychology major. That lasted for about a semester. I actually wasn’t really aware of sociology as a discipline in high school. I hadn’t heard of it or anything like that. So, when I got to [Maryland], I was placed in a Living and Learning program called CIVICUS. It’s focused on civic engagement and social justice. We had classes that we had to take. One of them was SOCY 105, which was Social Problems. That was my first experience with [sociology]. I got in and I really liked it. I was like, “This feels more like where I need to be.”
How would you say Sociology has impacted the way you view the world?
It’s changed drastically. I had this conversation with my fellow sociology majors. Sociology has ruined a lot of things for us because we’re aware of how society plays a role in most aspects of people’s lives. It colors so many things I see. I watch old movies that I used to love and I’m like, “Wow! This is really sexist!” or “This is really racist!” I feel like I’m viewing the world with a different set of glasses than everyone else a lot of the times.
What are your plans after graduation?
Now that I’ve gotten into sociology and everything, I have the framework. I’m on a social justice kick, but I want to affect it in a way that’s more broad and far-reaching than academia. I was looking into doing something in policy making, [like] lobbying for certain social issues. I think something that would help me be competitive in that world is a law degree. I’ve got a job that I’ve been working at now for the past couple summers. They offered me a position full-time. I feel like it would be a cool thing to do for a year before I go back to being a student. I figure I’ll do that and when next fall comes, I’ll be doing the LSAT and sending my applications in.
Completing a Bachelor’s degree requires a lot of work. How have you managed to stay motivated?
It’s never been that big of a problem. I’ve never really needed someone behind me yelling to push me or anything like that. Deadlines, I impose them on myself so heavily even for things in my personal life. What it comes down [to] for me is being focused on where you’re going. I know maybe I don’t want to do this paper or assignment, maybe I don’t see the relevance, but I’m really looking at the big picture and the big picture is this is what I need to do to get to where I need to be. It’s just as simple as that. I do what needs to be done.
What are some interesting activities you’re involved in outside of sociology?
I am the President of the Office of Multiethnic Student Education’s Academic Excellence Society. Our organization, we’re an honor society. We have requirements for our members to keep them from strictly focusing on academia. So, we’re trying to create more well-rounded people. We hold diversity events. Because we’re a multiethnic society, we feel it’s important to not only explore diversity, but celebrate it. So, we have events designed [to get] people to do that. That’s one of my big commitments. I play an instrument. I play guitar. Big reader. Big TV watcher. I’m a nerd at heart.
What will you remember most from your time here at the University of Maryland?
I’ve always been a more interactional person. I feel the best when I’m recognized by another person individually. So, there’ve been a couple of times with a couple of teachers in the Sociology department, with Dr. Ray, Dr. Moghadam, Dr. Kleykamp, when I’ve had professors commend me on a paper or anything like that. I took Dr. Ray’s Sociology of Race Relations last semester. It was probably a really [small] thing to him, but it was a really big thing [to me]. It was our final paper for the semester. He sent all our grades to us after the semester was over. He sent me mine [with] a real quick message. He was like, “This is your grade. This is one of the best papers I’ve ever read.” That was all he said. For that, I wanted to jump up and down and show people. To other people, it was like, “What’s the big deal? It was just one paper.” It wasn’t a big thing, but for me [it] was. It’s those moments I’ll remember, those moments that define me. That’s what I’ll remember is the recognition from other people and especially people that I respect.