In the summer of 2011, Sophia Demuynck ‘13 was working as a researcher in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital when she realized exactly what she wanted—or rather, did not want—to do.
But more on that in a moment.
When she first arrived at Smith, having played field hockey since 6th grade, Demuynck was hoping to continue playing in college, seeking the same familial team atmosphere she had experienced at Moorestown Friends School (MFS), a Quaker school in Moorestown, N.J. “I wanted to keep playing field hockey, I loved the family environment,” she says.
Under the tutelage of MFS head coach Danielle Dayton, Moorestown Friends won the Friends School League championship in 2007, and Demuynck was named First-Team All-League player in both her junior and senior seasons.
Enter Smith College head coach Jaime Ginsberg, a fellow Quaker school alumna. “I hadn’t been able to meet a team on any of my other college visits, and Jaime took me out to where the turf field is now, showing me where it was going to be,” recalls Demuynck. “I really felt like I would be appreciated here as an athlete.” It didn’t hurt the recruitment when she learned that a couple other Quaker school alumnae were on the team as well.
“I wanted a place that was safe,” says Demuynck. “Jaime was phenomenal, and I wanted to be in a space that would offer me a different educational perspective on the world, and life.”
After an early Smith visit, and a discussion of her options with her guidance counselor back in New Jersey, Demuynck applied early decision and was accepted.
Demuynck has accomplished a lot in her four years at Smith. This year, her senior season, she captained the field hockey team to its most wins in five years. She received the Sarah Pokora Award for the highest individual GPA in the entire athletic department, while completing a double major in neuroscience and sociology. Her senior thesis, titled Holding a Piece of the Earth: Gendered Space, Field Hockey Embodiment and the Politics of Getting Low, was a magnum opus that explores the spatiality, portrayal, and history of field hockey in the United States.
But it was there at Harvard in the summer of 2011, studying cognitive development in children ages 8 to 18 with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, when Demuynck started to see a clearer direction for her life.
“I felt like they were not interested in mentoring me [at the hospital], but I had such a great time getting to know the kids,” she says. “I realized then that I wanted to work more with people and not spend my time in the lab.”
Returning to Smith, she got more engaged with her other major, sociology. “I really got involved, academically, in sociology as a critique of science,” she explains. “Science doesn’t always acknowledge multiple perspectives. From there, I really started thinking about teaching at the university level.”
Ultimately, Demuynck hopes to pursue a doctorate in sociology and the history of science. But for now, after her Smith graduation, she will join the Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), leaving in August for training. From there, she could get placed anywhere from Maine to Maryland as a community service team member.
“I want to go and share some of my Smith experience,” she says, “the openness that Smith has taught me.”