Virginia Riel

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at North Carolina State University.

My work


I am passionate about teaching. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching Current Social Problems and Principles of Sociology. However, I look forward to the opportunity to teach other courses and, since being on the job market, have prepared various courses to display those interests.

Please contact me for more information.


I have spent the past five years conducting qualitative fieldwork projects. In addition to working with IRB and navigating research sites, I have experience conducting in-depth interviews, observing, writing up field notes, and synthesizing the findings.

I have also worked as a research assistant for Toby Parcel’s two year quantitative project funded by NSF.


We don’t always talk about the time that we spend writing. But I happily admit that writing is a vital research activity, and I believe that it helps me to improve as a scholar and instructor. Whether I am synthesizing a new literature or memoing and drafting to make sense of new findings, writing is a large part of how I spend time, and also something that I enjoy about academic life.

More about me

I became interested in higher education during my second semester in college at UNC-Chapel Hill. I took a seminar course on ethics and religion, and I enjoyed thinking about the intersection of larger societal forces and history with my own life and others’ everyday experiences. These thoughts still inform my teaching and writing today.

My prior research focuses on race and educational stratification, but I am interested in inequality more broadly. I am currently doing interdisciplinary work that engages with issues of choice.

Aside from work, I love practicing yoga and enjoying time with family.

Recent and accepted publications

Riel, Virginia, Toby L. Parcel, Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, and Stephen Samuel Smith. 2018. “Do Magnet and Charter Schools Exacerbate or Ameliorate Inequality?” Sociology Compass 12(9):1-15.

Riel, Virginia. 2019. “‘We’ve Been Thinking You Were Stupid All This Time:’ Racial Microinsults and Microinvalidations in a Rural Southern High School.” Race Ethnicity and Education. Available online:

Robertson, Will, and Virginia Riel. “Right to be Educated or Right to Choose? School Choice and its Impact on Education in North Carolina.” Virginia Law Review. Forthcoming- Fall 2019.

Riel, Virginia. “‘They Just Hang Out with Their Own:’ Organized Racial Inequality in a Rural Southern High School.” The Journal of Negro Education. Forthcoming- Spring 2020.


If you would like to reach out or learn more, please contact me at

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