Ashley Reichelmann studied Women’s and Gender Studies and English Teaching as an undergrad at The College of New Jersey. She completed a Master’s in Contemporary Identities at the University of Bristol in England. Ashley then came to Northeastern to complete her PhD in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
During her time at Northeastern, Ashley Reichelmann was the recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. She was also the recipient of a Spring 2017 Dissertation Completion Fellowship. She just accepted a position as a tenure track Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. Continue reading below for more on Ashley’s experience.
What factors led you to decide to come to Northeastern to pursue your PhD?
My time at Northeastern has been marked by an immense amount of support. I came to Northeastern University to work with two very specific people: Jack Levin and Matthew Hunt. Both scholars had unique backgrounds in social psychology, which is the area I sought to further understand: Jack — now an Emeritus — focused on conflict and violence, while Matt studies race and racial attitudes. Although my project shifted and evolved during my time at Northeastern — thanks in large part to both of these scholars — my coursework and research has always centered around the connection between identity, violence and collective memory. I have had the privilege of working with scholars who saw my potential and were willing to help mold me. They have had a profound impact on my development as a scholar, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities they have afforded me along the way.
“I have had the privilege of working with scholars who saw my potential and were willing to help mold me. They have had a profound impact on my development as a scholar, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities they have afforded me along the way.”
What have been some particular highlights during your time at Northeastern?
- Having the opportunity to both teach and research with Jack Levin and Matthew Hunt. Observing them both as professors as well as researchers has been really important for my growth in both areas.
- Engaging with scholars across disciplines through clusters funded by the Humanities Center and conferences supported by the Brudnick Center.
- The ability to take classes through the Gender Consortium.
- Informal lunches with faculty members and fellow students through the department brown bag lunches.
What has been the focus of your research?
Through my various degrees, my interests have always revolved around the relationship and intersections between social, cultural, historical and mental processes of identity. My academic work and professional experiences have consistently encountered the processes of identities, and these opportunities led to research projects focusing on Holocaust survivors, women in the military, female life prisoners and British females who self-define as witches. Now, I am exploring the role that collective threat plays in White Americans’ reactions to representations of slavery and the impact those reactions have on intergroup relations vis-à-vis contemporary racial attitudes.
What are some of the key takeaways of your experience at Northeastern and what advice can you offer to PhD candidates who are just starting out?
The key takeaways of my time at Northeastern University, particularly as a PhD student, are: 1) To follow your passion, but remember the goal is to be trained for a job when you leave. Be strategic about your choices. Your passion can get you a job, but you may also need to give some thought behind how you present it to others. 2) Who you choose as your adviser will make all the difference in terms of your progression as well as the quality of your work. Pick someone who will challenge you academically, not someone who will just be your cheerleader. 3) If someone tells you it cannot be done, find out for yourself, and set out to prove them wrong.
What can you tell us about your exciting position at Virginia Tech?
In the fall of 2017, I will start as a tenure track Assistant professor at Virginia Tech. I was hired in the Sociology department, specifically to think about how to further develop the criminology program. I am really looking forward to my time at VT, because it truly is the perfect match. There is nothing else I could dream of being included in my first job offer; particularly I am looking forward to the opportunity to be affiliated with the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention and the Women’s and Gender Studies program as well as continuing to consider how collective violence can and should be incorporated into criminology as a discipline. When I visited VT for my campus interview, I could not have imagined it going any better. The faculty made me feel so comfortable and I am looking forward to engaging with them as colleagues. To be given the opportunity to work at a renowned institution with a unique focus and interest in collective violence is more than I could have ever dreamed of immediately coming out of graduate school!