By Donna Parker
If you ask assistant professor of sociology Darcie Vandegrift of Drake University, who received a double bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies from Trinity in 1992, if New Year’s resolutions really work, her answer might surprise you. That’s because this social science researcher knows that our environment and behaviors are really the key factors in getting the job done.
“Really, our daily behaviors and environment that we surround ourselves with make a bigger impact than our intentions,” says Darcie.
“Whether it’s losing weight or finishing that task at work, research shows that the ongoing environment really plays into it.”
Darcie’s curiosity about such things led her to her current position as a faculty member at Drake in Des Moines, Iowa, where she teaches in the department for the study of culture and society. She also works tirelessly in her community creating intensive service learning experiences for students.
“Trinity’s sociology and anthropology faculty encouraged experiential learning a decade before it really came into vogue,” states this Fulbright scholar who recently spent a year in Venezuela gaining insight into how Venezuelan citizens interpret the Chavez era.
“Professor Meredith McGuire, department of sociology and anthropology, really captivated my imagination as to what could be done to better society. I have been working to help coordinate experiential learning for students at local service organizations and guide them to become certified in global citizenship.”
Under her guidance, Drake students have the opportunity to write grants and develop curricula for local middle schools in areas such as environment, food, and Africa.
“TUVAC served a crucial part of my development, especially when I worked several years as a tutor at Inner City Development. This was my earliest first-hand experience with the resilience and resourcefulness of low-income people in urban communities and indelibly shaped my interests in social justice and the common good.”
From her small Kansas hometown to Trinity and beyond, this alumna recognizes the value of global perspective and realizes that the Trinity faculty laid the groundwork of pursuing these goals. Darcie is excited by her career and delighted to have her husband, Victor Tonelli ’90, and two children, Anson and Risa, share her journey.