Charity never imagined that she would end up in graduate school at the University of Michigan. Although she was born in western Michigan, she grew up in Japan and New York City; Michigan was simply the place she would come back to once a year to visit grandparents and cousins. As a child in Queens, she would compare her family's cramped brownstone and postage-stamp backyard to the big homes and sprawling lawns of Michigan and longed to move back here. By the time she was in college, though, she appreciated the diversity and cultural richness that growing up in New York allowed her to experience. "I lived in one of the most ethnically diverse zip codes in the world," she says. "There were kids from about fifty different countries in my elementary school. When I told a classmate I was from Michigan, she asked, 'Oh, is that near Poland?'"

After Charity graduated from the City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College, her parents and younger siblings ended up relocating to Michigan. But it wasn't until she discovered the joint doctoral program in Social Work and Sociology that Charity began to seriously consider moving back, too. "At the time," she recalls, "I was debating between applying to M.S.W. programs and Ph.D. programs, and this seemed liked the perfect fit."

Today, Charity researches the transition to first-time motherhood, a project born from her life experiences and her interests in academia. “After undergrad, I took an eight month cross-country road trip, during which I interviewed 80 strangers about marriage. I listened to stories of how women struggled to balance work and family, and wondered how anyone does it successfully. My own mother and grandmother were stay-at-home moms who had big families and never worked outside of the home after they got married; I just kind of assumed my path would be similar. I never expected I would be getting a Ph.D.”

Go to Rackham's Website to read the rest of Charity's story, her dissertation work, and experience in graduate school.