Rianka Roy ’24 Ph.D., College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Rianka Roy reflects on her time at UConn

Rianka Roy

Rianka Roy, a graduating Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology, outside Manchester Hall on April 15, 2024. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Rianka Roy ’24 Ph.D., a doctoral student from Kolkata, India, is graduating from the Department of Sociology. Appreciating UConn’s status as a public university, she “immediately accepted” the University’s offer and came to the United States in 2019 to start her Ph.D. after studying for a few years in India.

Why did you choose to go to UConn?
I chose UConn because the department appealed to me in terms of its resources, the expertise of the faculty, and the courses offered. The sociology department is also very diverse in terms of faculty; I was familiar with a lot of international scholars’ work and wanted to work with them. Also, I really feel that public education systems democratize access to education. So, since UConn is a public school, I really cherish that it opens doors to students coming from different backgrounds.

What drew you to your field of study?
I was very curious about the sociological perspectives of the aspects of labor and migration. In these areas, sociology has the tools and the theoretical resources to challenge our assumptions about unequal social structures, which shape the ways we look at work and migration. I was really drawn to the field of sociology, and I think I’ve made the right choice.

What activities were you involved in as a student?
I am a part of the Sociologists for Women in Society, a feminist group of sociologists, and I went to the United Nations twice to attend the Commission on the Status of Women as a delegate representing them. It was a great opportunity to learn about feminist work and action happening all around the world. I also work with the American Sociological Association and the Labor Tech Research Network, both of which have allowed me to build global connection with colleagues across the world.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?  
Definitely the size of the campus. I had no idea how big the campus was, not only in terms of the land but also because of how vibrant campus life is. I’ve been an instructor for undergraduate students for a few years while earning my Ph.D. My students would talk about different clubs and activities, and it was really fascinating to hear.

What was it like starting college during the pandemic?  
I started my program in 2019, so when COVID-19 hit, it was very stressful. The online classes were very isolating and alienating. As an international student, I did not have the opportunity to visit my family for a few years. But I know it would have been worse if I did not have the support and encouragement from the sociology department faculty. They really acted as a family and brought us all together. We would do Zoom happy hours on Sundays to chat about our worries, and it was a good way to decompress in that stressful period.

What are your plans for after graduation?  
I’ve been accepted at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where I’ll be joining as a tenure track assistant professor.

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?  
Academically, my department has motivated and supported me to explore various directions. I’ve published several pieces of my dissertation already. Also, the formal and informal mentoring I’ve received at UConn has been really beneficial.

Any advice for incoming students?  
UConn is a great university that holds onto values of serving its community and keeping the space diverse and welcoming to student groups and encouraging different voices to be part of the conversation. So, I would encourage students to participate in programs and activities and explore different parts of campus and engage with the community. Graduate programs can seem very stressful sometimes, but there are moments when you can unwind not just with your friends but also with community members.

What’s one thing everyone should do during their time at UConn?
Go to the Dairy Bar! But on a serious note, I would encourage current and future students to appreciate UConn’s values and the way it is embedded in and gives back to the community.