Kathryn R. Dungy


Saint Michael’s College – Department of History

Associate Professor of Caribbean and Latin American History

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My passion is connecting to the world. My parents instilled a curiosity and compassion for people and places on a global scale. In fact, I set off on my first international trip at six months of age and have now visited or lived in over 65 countries and territories. In my academic life I study race, class, and gender in the Atlantic World, exploring the concept of freedom in the midst of slave societies in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Tell us about your Saint Michael’s College experience.
I have been on faculty at SMC since 2010. The earnest and collegial faculty-student relationships is the main reason I love being a part of this community.

What advice would you give to female students?
I attended a historically black women’s college and did not have to navigate some of the classroom and social issues that face my female-identifying students. But the benefits of a liberal arts education is universal. It teaches us to question the perceived norm and build an arsenal of knowledge to illicit change in our world. My hope for my female-identifying students, and especially my students of color, is to use your time here at Saint Michael’s College to grow into your brilliance and strength. Take every class you can that feeds your thirst for knowledge. Take the opportunity to arm yourself with not only the old canons of thought, but also to explore new voices that have been occluded from academic discussions. And don’t be afraid to be that new voice! Women should be bold and fearless. You need to speak up and have confidence in your ideas and opinions.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel and you are probably not the first to experience whatever you are going through – this advice is important both while you are a student and once you get out into the workforce. Find a mentor [or two or three] who can help you navigate uncertainties, give you advice, or just listen to your hopes, fears, and dreams.

What keeps you motivated and driven on a daily basis?
Staying grounded and insisting on self-care. I have a dear cousin who was one of the first black female Vice-Presidents at a major international insurance company. Her advice to me has been to make sure I protect myself, otherwise I will be no help to those around me. I attempt to stay centered, stay curious, help people, and be a good team member.

What woman most inspires you and why?
The women in my family are my inspiration. I am blessed to come from a long line of strong-minded women. Dating back at least to the early nineteenth century these amazing women were social-activists, teachers, and pioneers in their chosen fields. Going to college and getting an advanced degree was never a question in our house. The question was, what drives you? Where is your passion? Find that passion and all the trials and tribulations life spreads before you will be small compared to the satisfaction of having followed your personal path of conviction.

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