Katherine “Kate” Ballew

Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Major(s): Critical Ethnic Studies and Anthropology/Sociology
Minor/Concentration: Political Science
Study Abroad/Study Away: Trinidad and Tobago
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Coffee
Best Adjective to Describe You: Nurturing

In 15 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
This department will give students interested in social justice the background necessary to discuss it.

What initially drew you to this department? What keeps you coming back?
When I was a first year protests concerning racial inequality on Kalamazoo College’s campus were occurring fairly frequently. After taking the introduction to ANSO course, I wanted to know more about what was going on. The Critical Ethnic Studies department was started because of these protests, and I thought that taking the introduction course would be the best way to educate myself on the topics being discussed by student protestors. Taking the introduction course made me look at the world in an entirely different way. It shattered concepts that I had always thought to be universal truths. The more classes I take, the more this happens, and I feel like opening my mind up in this way has allowed me to become a better person.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
The work load is difficult, and the topics are dense and often confusing, but if you choose to stick through it the concepts you learn about will inspire and motivate you in the most rewarding way.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
I have always wanted to work towards peace and social justice since I was a little kid. The Critical Ethnic Studies Department has fueled my interests, and inspired me to pursue a career focused on social justice. It has allowed me to be much more aware of everything that is going on in the world around me, which helps me to be a more informed and active citizen.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K? (note: this does not have to be academic)
We as individuals are not entitled to understanding. There is nothing that assures that we will be able to fully comprehend the experiences of others, or the ways in which our world works. Recognizing that not everything can be understood holistically or rationally has been incredibly relieving, especially in classes where you leave thinking that literally nothing made sense.

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
My introduction class to Anthropology and Sociology really opened my eyes to my own privilege and the underlying injustices that permeate various systems within our country. It really inspired me to devote my life to working for social justice. Without that course, I would not have begun taking classes in the Critical Ethnic Studies Department to further my education, or thought about pursuing a career in law.

What is your SIP?
I will be doing a Critical Ethnic Studies library SIP that will critique the concept of empathy using race theory. In my argument I will be pulling from multiple fields of study including psychology, sociology, and literary studies.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I am hoping to go to law school. After that, I want to pursue a career in public interest law or politics, because I want to work towards achieving greater social justice for all peoples in the United States.

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