3C's Spotlight: Dr. Orr

For the second year in a row, Her Campus at CNU has hosted 3C's: Coffee, Careers, & Conversation. 3C's is a great event for young collegiate women to sit down with female professors and talk about what it means to be a woman in the workplace. This year, we were lucky enough to have Dr. Orr return again to chat with us. After the event, I sat down with Dr. Orr to ask her some questions.

Dr. Orr is a sociology professor at CNU. She is one of the most personable, friendly, and funny people I have met at CNU. Immediately upon walking into her office and seeing her smiling face, I felt relaxed. After a test-run of my voice recording app, we began:

What is your favorite class to teach?

"Sociological theory, which is my favorite class to teach, usually student’s least favorite class to take because it’s—you know—a tough one with tons and tons of writing, but it’s fun for me to teach because usually at the end of the semester they don’t hate theory anymore. *laughs* I feel very accomplished."

Do you like to read all the papers?

"Um…you know, so, yes, I do. I love to read their final papers actually because they put so much work into them. They’re working on them all semester long, and I get to see how far they’ve come, and how much they’ve like developed their ability to think theoretically. But it’s a ton of work too. I do like to read them. It’s all so very overwhelming and sometimes I wanna sit in a corner and cry. Both of those things at the same time. *laughs*"

Is this always what you wanted to do? Be a professor?

"Huh. Um, you know, no. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since probably midway through my undergrad career. I was like, yeah, this is something—I wanted to go to school forever, and this was the way to go to school forever. But, prior to that, as a young person growing up, I was—I have this thing that I wrote when I was in eighth grade: 'I’m gonna be an attorney for women.' Like who knows what that means? But that’s what I wanted to do. So not always. Didn’t always want to be a professor."

And you love to read.

"I do."

What are your top three favorite books?

"Ooh, that is a tough one. Umm, gosh. Okay, Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is one of my favorites. And um, wow, what a—silly and—no I can’t even say it. I was gonna say, okay, so, Gone with the Wind was one of my favorite books as a young person. Now looking back, I’m like 'Oh my god, it’s so racist,' but it always stands out. It got me to love reading. What’s another recent book that I loved? I actually am totally obsessed with The Hate U Give. So that’s a book I read most recently. I don’t know that it’s one of my favorites, but it’s one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about."

And your wife works with you here as well?

"She does, yeah."

Does that dynamic work well for you two?

"It does! We like to spend a lot of time together, so it works. Some people can’t wait to escape their partners when they go to work, but we still will have lunch together sometimes, and she’ll bring me coffee, or I’ll bring her coffee. It’s really nice. It’s always nice to see her face. Plus, we have a lot of the same students, and so it’s cool for students to get to know us in that way. It’s good."

Do you ever find yourself bringing your work life home too much?

"Oh my God, always. Always. Always. That I would say is the biggest downside to this job. One of the few downsides to this job is that there’s literally no end to the work, right? You never feel like you’re just done, right? You’re never like 'Okay, I finished for the day.' So, bringing home work in terms of grading of course. The grading never ends, right? But, you’re always working on some sort of a writing project that is a constant—you know—research is constant, writing is constant. My wife and I were actually talking the other day about how it’s stressful to feel like when your job is to know things, it never ends, right? Because we’re all just constantly changing and adding. You feel like you constantly have to keep up with all the new research in your areas, so it honestly is constant. There’s no taking the weekend off, even when I’m most well-intentioned. Trying to take the weekend off, work just follows me."

How would you say you deal with bringing your work home with you? Do you deal with it?

"Mostly I try to, like for example, on weekends I will try to set aside one day out of the weekend where I’m just pretty much working most of the day, but then I’ll make sure that there’s some time that I put aside for other things, like spending time with my partner or going to see my family in New York or going for a hike with my dog. So, I do try to build in things that make me move away from the work for a little while."

Did you enjoy 3C’s?

"I did! I actually love it. I participated in it last year, and I sort of didn’t know what to expect, and I went into it being like sorta nervous, I don’t know what’s going on here, really awkward. Loved it last year. Loved it again this year. It’s a really awesome way for me to meet students that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. Students who I wouldn’t otherwise have in class. I really think it’s an important event, and the way that Her Campus is organized and everything, y'all are like the most organized campus group I have ever seen. So, that’s really nice that you guys know what’s going on. It’s a great organization and it was a great event for sure."

Was there a particular question that resonated with you?

"Yeah. I think about the question of—I think the question was like, maybe not what would you tell your sixteen-year-old self, but are you where you expected to be when you were sixteen? That really resonates with me, and the answers that students gave, I think I noticed a trend between this year and last year. Super similar answers, and that is that students say 'Well, I would tell my sixteen year old self,' which for some of these young people was only three or four years ago, 'it’s gonna be okay, to calm down a little bit, don’t be so nervous, or don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out and planned out and settled.' And I think that that’s something that our students here at CNU, and I’m sure other places, there’s so much pressure on you all to have this firm plan and have your life laid out at such a young age. I think that maybe I felt that pressure too at your age, but I think back and I didn’t even know anything about what I wanted my life to look like. I mean, not truly when I was that age. Yeah, that just strikes me as being something that I kinda feel bad for y’all to have that much pressure on you to have it all figured out when your brain is still developing."

What advice do you have for today’s college woman?

"Today’s college woman. I think that I would say to support one another, and Her Campus is a great organization for that. One of the things in my Women, Gender, and Culture class that comes up a lot is a lot of students—and it’s mostly women in there—oftentimes they feel like the people who are most critical of them and who are the least kind are other women. And that’s particularly painful, right? So, I think that what I would say to college women is to bond with one another and support one another and push against that stereotype of being nasty or judgmental to one another."

Didn't get a chance to see Dr. Orr or any of the professors at 3C's? Make sure you stay up-to-date with us on our social media accounts to find out when the next one will be!