I came to Berkeley and to sociology after only a year away from college, and I came to it in a rather backward way. Knowing little about the institutional structure of the field, or what it would mean to get a Berkeley Ph.D., I followed the advice of mentors who said it would be a good place for me. They were right -- my socialization into being a sociologist, and being a Berkeley sociologist, opened new intellectual doors for me, and I consider it an excellent decision.
Berkeley sustained my preexisting respect for the multiple roles of serious theory in sociology. It also inculcated a sense of the importance of strong, creative, appropriate, and flexible methods, and of big questions that deserve attention. To my mind, it is this combination of theory, public importance, and methodological imagination that characterize my Berkeley experience.
After Berkeley I joined the sociology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I have continued my work on citizenship and political ideology in the United States. True to the combination I outlined, I am the only person currently in the department to teach both theory and methods -- a fact of which I am proud.