Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work Margaret Lloyd Sieger, PhD, moved to Connecticut from Kansas City, MO in 2017. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Margaret about how she’s planted roots in the region.
NAN PRICE: Why Connecticut?
MARGARET LLOYD SIEGER: When I was finishing my PhD in social work at the University of Kansas, I applied to 31 schools across the country and a program in Canada. I had heard about UConn and, when I started looking more deeply into it as I was doing my academic job search, I was really impressed with so many things about the program.
After 15 first-round interviews, I was most excited about two programs, UConn being one of them. When I came to my campus visit, I realized I really didn’t know much about the state.
The dean took me on a tour and showed me the campus, which was moving from West Hartford to Hartford. Having a social work program in the middle of a city, as opposed a suburban community, felt very authentic and embodying of social work as a discipline. I loved how Hartford had a quaint New England feel along with it being a real city with issues that social work tries to address.
The next time I visited was when I was looking for housing. I knew I wanted to live in Hartford. I had lived in an urban part of Kansas City and I wanted that same feeling, so I got an apartment in the West End.
What do you enjoy most about the Hartford Region? What makes it unique?
MARGARET: I fell in love almost immediately. I love how small and close to everything things are. It feels very manageable and it’s an easy place to get to know. New England is so different from the Midwest! Admittedly, I was a little nervous to move here, but I’ve found the people are super friendly.
In terms of landscape, the history here is incredible as is the proximity to the woods and nature. I love that I’m able to easily hike and explore. I like travel, but I don’t like traveling! So, Hartford is perfect for that. I can go on day trips or weekend getaways and experience so many nearby places.
In terms of finding your place, why did you choose to build your career and your life here?
MARGARET: I moved here with a cat and a suitcase in August 2017. I had no expectations and I’ve been blown away. I ended up meeting my husband, who’s from the San Francisco Bay area. He moved to Connecticut for graduate school and stayed because he liked the area. We enjoy being transplants and becoming a part of the region.
We got married in Hartford at Center Church on Gold Street—which was founded by Thomas Hooker in 1636!—and had our reception in the Morgan Great Hall at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
We fell in love with our church for its history, diversity, and progressive theology. I had dreamed of a museum reception and couldn’t believe the Wadsworth was available as an event space—and across the street from the church. It was one of the best days of my life!
We bought a house in West Hartford right before the market went crazy, which was very lucky. We wanted to be in a community where we could walk around and send our kids to school and be close to work—I work in Hartford and my husband works in Newington. And we’re having our first child in October, which is so exciting!
I love that Connecticut’s culture is one of work-life balance. I instantly felt comfortable with my department at UConn, which was awesome. A lot of academic settings have little work-life balance. Here, people seem balanced. And that translates into people being friendlier and more relaxed because they’re taking care of themselves—and that’s the kind of life that I wanted to build.
I’m also a person in recovery. I moved to Connecticut without any idea about what the recovery community would be like and found an amazing, rich recovery community here. That’s a big part of my social network that I quickly felt very plugged into. It didn’t take tons of time and work to find my people. The fact that I have both a work life and a life outside of work that are really satisfying interpersonally is a complete dream come true.