Michelle Kuo '03, JD '09

Michelle Kuo profile photoProfessor and Author of Reading With Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and A Life Changing Friendship

Thesis Title: The Flight to Nature as a Mode of Social Critique: A Study of Rousseau and Thoreau

Social Studies was a transformative experience. Its community of thoughtful, passionate, and often idealistic students uplifted me with a sense of possibility; its brilliant faculty energized my imagination. Whenever people ask me to describe my favorite class in college, I immediately tell them about Social Studies 10, and how it pushed me to think deeply about social change. In exploring ideas of alienation, resistance, and equality, Social Studies 10 gave me ways to understand the world that I still turn to today. Since graduating from college, I’ve worked as a teacher in prisons and public schools, a lawyer for undocumented immigrants, and a professor in History, Law, and Society at a university. I am also a writer and recently published Reading with Patrick, a memoir of teaching literature in an alternative school and county jail in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. I attribute its social critique, attention to history, and insistence on self-interrogation to my training in Social Studies, whose spirit infuses my work.