Emily Sullivan '11

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Name: Emily Sullivan
Job: Bicycle Mechanic and Private SAT Tutor
Current City: Venice Beach, CA
School: Princeton - Class of 2011
Major: Sociology
Social Media:


Life After Princeton

I graduated with a degree in Sociology—small wonder, some may joke, that I have ended up in a bike shop. In fact, I wrote my thesis about recent college graduates who choose low-wage employment after college…another small wonder.

I am a bicycle mechanic. I go to work from 11AM to 7PM each day, get really dirty, and play with tools. My only dress code is closed-toed shoes, which means my gauged ears and tattoos offend no one. I don't have to wear make-up or brush my hair or invest in professional attire to appear important. Sometimes I get tipped in beer. It is a wonderful way to live!

I live on the beach and get to spend all day around what I love, among people who love bikes too. To go beyond the luxuries of being a mechanic, I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be "in service" to all people. I truly believe in the transformative power of bicycles as transportation. I teach repair classes that I believe to be both useful and empowering. Bicycle advocacy has far-reaching goals directed towards making communities safer and more connected, and the environment healthier.

It is not the highly lucrative, nor the highly noble profession many had expected of me. To be totally honest, it pays shit—I could not raise a family with what I make. But I make just enough for a single young woman with simple needs, I can work anywhere in the world, and I get to be part of a movement that is transforming communities on many levels.


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