"By giving me the freedom to do what I was passionate about, Knox really set the stage for me to have some am...
Major in Public Policy, Minor in Political Science and Environmental Studies
At Knox's 2021 Opening Convocation ceremony, Sophia was recognized for her academic and extracurricular achievements. Sophia is among the few students to be inducted into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. She also received the Faculty Scholarship Prize. the highest honor that Knox faculty accord to a student. On campus, Sophia is secretary of the Honor Board, an admission tour guide, and social events director of the sorority Tri Delta. Off campus, she interns at the Knox County State's Attorney's Office as a special project developer and researcher.
Were you surprised that you were selected for the Faculty Scholarship Prize? What about your Knox experience do you think has led to this honor?
Definitely surprised. I feel like I have always set a lot of my college experiences as a priority. Looking back into the past couple of years, I throw myself into everything that I do, and that is why I was considered. It is natural for me to be over-involved, which is scary but I don’t know what my educational experience would be like without all those things. I like the idea that I can make change not just by doing things in preparation for future change but that I am making change and influencing my current environment now.
What advice would you give to new and prospective students?
When issues arise or I am struggling with something, or if there are doubts I have, I ask somebody. I learn about the resources that do exist. I also feel like TRIO is a great place to build community, and it offered me tools for success.
What is something that you can only find at Knox? Anything that you will miss when you are gone?
The informality of Knox. Not to mean that Knox is not professional, but in the sense that I feel comfortable in every space that I am in at Knox. The community that Knox has fostered as a small school, as a school with a lot of kind individuals, has created a sense of comfort for me. I always feel that I am encouraged to take on positions, that I am wanted, that my voice is valued.
What do you think has been vital to your success while at Knox?
Excitement about my education has helped a lot. A lot of it has been the development of relationships with professors. A lot of it is the care and the instruction that I received. I had a support system from the people who were testing me. It was always a collaborative experience that has been very helpful.
How have faculty members supported you in your aspirations?
All of the professors in the political science department. Thomas Bell and Katie Stewart in the last three years have been helpful to me. Andy Civettini, my advisor, has been great this year. Other teachers outside of the political science department that have been crucial to my education include Ben Farrer and Jonathan Powers. I remember taking Ben Farrer’s Environmental Policy class my sophomore year. That was the pivotal moment that made me realize I want to do policy work. When I took Jonathan Powers' Economics 101 class, I would go to his office almost every day with econ questions, and he was very kind, very patient.
They have all been really trustworthy of me. I think that has been something that has been empowering. They do this for all their students, not just me. When I take their courses, I feel that I am an adult, as if they see me as an adult, as I have full capacity to come up with cool ideas and thoughts just like them. They are still teaching me and I still have a lot to learn from them, but it‘s not a weird "I am the student, you are the professor" sort of situation.
How have your classmates been vital to your Knox experience?
In terms of students, your friends are going to be the most empowering and supportive people around you. In my first year, I was in a Living Learning Community (LLC). We are all pretty much still friends, and I can honestly attribute most of my connection of home at Knox to them and the experience they gave me my first year. I am so thankful that I was able to have that first-year experience with them because it really set the tone for all four years, and that has been very very nice. Duane Oldfield, our professor for the class, took us bowling, went to the movies with us, and had a barbecue outside with our suite. See, encouraging, being there with us as a person, not just as a professor. Just wow…so great.
Photo at the top of the page: Sophia Bowley, at right, speaks with Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Jennifer Foubert about a PowerPoint presentation for the School and Society class.