Tonya Frevert

Home State: Illinois

Tonya is an NSF-funded Postdoctoral Fellow in the College of Computing and Informatics at UNC Charlotte. Through an intersectional lens, she studies the effects of categorical differences on worker outcomes, diversity and inclusion in STEM education, active learning pedagogies, and organizational change.

As an interdisciplinary researcher and teacher, she has presented at conferences across management, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, and computer science. She has co-authored three book chapters on work-life balance and has published in Sociology Compass. She has taught courses in the Departments of Sociology and Psychology at UNC Charlotte and in the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Prior to academia, she worked for over 15 years in the business sector, with experience in the retail services, transportation, and architecture/engineering industries.

She holds a BS in Applied Behavioral Science from Penn State Harrisburg as well as an MA in Psychology from Northern Arizona University. She earned her MA in Sociology and her PhD in Organizational Science from UNC Charlotte.

What are your greatest memories of OS?

The people and sense of community that grew and developed from the early years of the OS program to the recent celebration of our 10th anniversary in 2016. Getting to know students, faculty, and their family members has kept me engaged in a way that was unexpected when I started this journey.

In reflecting back, what are the top three things you are taking away from the program? 

  1. It’s a cliché, but finding my place and my passion on this big blue marble. It took me awhile to find it.
  2. A lifelong community of colleagues and friends who continue to teach me and push me forward.
  3. The confidence to ask big questions and the skills and determination needed to answer them.

What advice do you have for new students on how to succeed in graduate school? 

In the wise yet succinct words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic.” Know that you are going to have some bad days and will wonder why “you did this to yourself.” Keep pushing forward and celebrate your milestones, big and small. Maintain good relationships with both faculty and your peers and be nice to the administrative staff—you will not get through your program without their help. Lastly, always know where your towel is.

What job search tips do you have for current students?

Be open to different opportunities. A job or organization that doesn’t look promising or interesting might surprise you. Be aware that the job search is very time consuming; work lots of time into your schedule to job hunt and submit applications. Be prepared for rejection. It just comes with the territory.

What about for preparation for going on the job market? 

Put effort into your job application portfolio. Start keeping your CV/resume up-to-date from the moment you begin graduate school. You will be surprised at what you forget you have accomplished after several years of graduate school endeavors. Nurture your relationships with faculty and supervisors, as you will need them to write strong, positive letters of recommendation on your behalf. And ask your recommenders—well in advance of deadlines—if they are willing to support you with a positive reference.