Sociology Alumni

Sociology alumni are making a positive impact locally and around the world.

One Crayon at a Time: Making a difference for refugee children

Sociology, Perspective-Taking, and Law Enforcement

Haimy Assefa (‘08), “accidental journalist and filmmaker”

“Assefa has worked for media giants including Fortune magazine, CNN and NBC…often with
a focus on global social issues, a theme that is a personal passion of hers.”

Click here to read more.

Jackie Gabriel’s (‘16) paper about meatpacking in Omaha was mentioned on NPR’s This American Life during the “Our Town” episode.

“Your perspective was incredibly helpful and important point for us to drive
to as a major end thought.” – Miki Meek, Reporter/Producer, This American Life. Jackie is a recent PhD grad
of our department and currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Western State Colorado University in
Gunnison. Click here to listen or read the transcript.

Please help support our amazing students

Spotlight on Undergrads

Makenzie Molitor

makenziemolitor Wow, how time flies! Like many incoming freshman and continuing sophomores at Colorado State, I switched my majors around almost every semester. Finally, I settled with a Psychology Major and Sociology minor and pursued these interests until I received my degree in 2011. During my four years, I was in close contact with the incredibly supportive and encouraging Sociology staff at CSU. Alex Walker and Tara Shelley helped me in so many ways, especially in their encouragement for me to present my own research of qualitative data collection and analysis on case manager views of offender change in a community corrections setting at the Western Society of Criminology Conference in Vancouver, Canada in February 2011. Without them, I would have never had the opportunity to be among such esteemed Sociology colleagues. Being a part of the Sociology Department’s Independent Research team also allowed me to participate in many intriguing prospective topics and get a little taste of that wonderful “cold-calling.” I learned more about life in the four years at CSU than any (expensive) textbook could provide. From my teachers, I learned that questions cannot be answered unless they are asked. From my peers, I learned that you never know who you might be sitting next to unless you introduce yourself – they just may turn out to be your best friend. From exceptional Sociology staff, I learned that networking is the most reliable way to get a job after college. From my dorm room floor freshman year, I learned that a friend of a friend can turn out be your future husband. A few months after graduation, I was given an awesome opportunity to apply for a real salary job with real live benefits. Turns out I am back in CSU city as a Substance Abuse Case Manager for over 100 parolees at Colorado TASC. I screen, assess, and allocate specific substance abuse services to my clients, documenting their progress along the way and supporting their success any way I can. This job has encouraged me to pursue my CAC I license and attend other DOC tools and assessment trainings as well. CSU has prepared me in countless ways for the future, and I am very thankful for the opportunities, connections, and lessons I learned throughout my college career. The most vital thing I have learned so far in my life is that what you do is not as important as what you take from one chapter to the next.

Clair White

cwhiteMy name is Clair White and I graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 2009. I started majoring in Engineering Science because of my strong math and science background, but I knew I wanted to have a career in some aspect of criminal justice and criminology. After my first sociology class, I switched my major to Sociology with a concentration in criminal justice because I enjoyed the study of society and social relations, particularly in relation to crime. I also minored in mathematics to satisfy my interest in math and statistics. This has now proven to be useful as I pursue my doctorate degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. I had a great experience at CSU, with great professors in the Sociology department, as well as the Mathematics department. I was awarded the Distinguished Scholars award all four years of my attendance at CSU and the Sociology Alumni Award during my senior year. Dr. Tara Shelley was a great mentor for me while I attended CSU and she continues to be a source of encouragement and advice. I worked on one of her various projects with the Colorado State Patrol for my senior capstone, where I was exposed to the world of scholarly research and I decided that graduate school was in my future.

Today, I attend the PhD program at Arizona State University, which is one of the fastest growing Criminology programs in the country. I have had the privilege of working with many bright, young scholars on various projects. My research interests include corrections and reentry, the role of communities on crime and reentry, and the growing popularity of prescription drug use. In addition to working on research, I work for Dr. Cassia Spohn as managing editor for the journal, Justice Quarterly. I assist in the peer review process and have the opportunity to see the latest research being conducted and corresponding with many of the great scholars in the field. In the future, I plan to remain in academia and research as an Assistant Professor.

Colorado is my home and I plan to return there someday, perhaps as a faculty member of CSU, who knows. My experience at Colorado State University provided me the skills, resources, and networks to be successful. I had professors that challenged me and exposed me to a career in academia that I love. I am proud to be a CSU Ram and will always remember the great times I had at CSU.

Kelli DePriest

depriest I graduated from CSU in May 2008 with a double major in Sociology (concentration in Criminology/Criminal Justice) and Liberal Arts (concentration in Ethnic Studies). I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. I had excellent teachers and advisors who encouraged me and provided the support that helped me get the most out of my education at Colorado State University. As I studied at CSU I began to discover a love for community service through organizations and my classes. Alpha Kappa Delta did numerous service projects including participating in CSUnity and volunteering with RamRide. Through my classes I was able to attend a few service trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, work as a Teaching Assistant, and intern at the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Collins. These and other volunteer opportunities ignited and then continued to fuel my love for volunteer work. My time at CSU also greatly helped expand my worldview. One particular Sociology class, “Contemporary Race and Ethnic Relations,” lead to my pursuit of a Liberal Arts degree. The class took my ideas of “history” and “truth” and blew them apart. The wool was lifted from my eyes and I learned about experiences of many different people in the United States and beyond. Studying abroad my junior year in the Czech Republic gave me a unique glimpse into a different culture. During that semester I decided on my “next step” in life and I began researching the United States Peace Corps. My time at CSU taught me about injustice and about the privileges granted me because of my birth, privileges I did not earn. My main reason behind joining the Peace Corps was to try to help other human beings who were born into different circumstances than myself and also to learn about a new and different culture and have an adventure! CSU and the environment in Fort Collins helped foster my love of adventure and making new friends that helped me succeed in Peace Corps.

I left for Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean in August 2008. Over the next three years I worked in Youth Development through the Education Office in a small fishing and farming village named Choiseul (phonetically pronounced Schwazell). My primary assignment led me to implement an HIV and AIDS project for 5th and 6th grade students at 11 primary schools in the area. The project was extremely fulfilling because I facilitated workshops for teachers while also running the activities with students. My other projects involved setting up a Girl Guide Company, a penpal program, coaching youth football, and many others. My time in Choiseul helped me learn about a new culture and introduced me to a village of the most friendly, loving, and sweet people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. During my time working in Saint Lucia I decided on my next, “next step” and began applying to Nursing School. I returned home from Peace Corps on November 20, 2011 and I received my acceptance letter to the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing on December 15, 2011. That adventure begins in May 2012.

Looking back, attending CSU gave me a great education but it also made me a better human being. I would like to thank everyone at CSU who supported me throughout my studies and continue to support me today. I am Proud to be a CSU Ram!

Carolina Banuelos

banuelos In May of 2010, I graduated from CSU with a B.A. in Sociology, second major in Spanish and a minor in Ethnic Studies. Currently, I am working towards completing my Masters in Criminology at Northern Arizona University with an emphasis in transnational crime. My thesis involves studying the transition from Latino immigrant to Latino-American identity with a particular focus on the idea of “crossing-over” as in both crossing the physical boundary, and crossing into a more American consciousness.

While taking classes and working on my thesis, I am also gathering statistics for the Genocide Resource Project regarding the political cartoons used on the front page of Der Stürmer during the Nazi Germany era. Later this semester I will be assisting another professor with her research by interviewing children whose parents are in prison. Additionally, while I prepare my thesis prospectus this semester, I will also be using my bilingual ability to translate case evidence for the Arizona Innocence Project. This fall I was awarded a full time teaching assistantship through 2012, which provides me with the opportunity to co-instruct two sections of Intro to Criminology and Criminal Justice courses. With a busy year ahead of me, I hope to defend my thesis toward the end of April next year and officially receive my Masters in May of 2012.

The priority I place on dedicating my time to different research and projects is a result of the eye-opening education I received through my Sociology courses at CSU. The professors at CSU motivated me to continue my education within the Sociology field, assist vulnerable populations, and educate others on social justice issues that affect societies as a whole. Although I am uncertain of what will come after my Masters, there is no doubt in my mind that the skills and knowledge I gained from CSU’s Sociology department will continue to guide me. I am a proud social Ram and will remain thankful to CSU for the experience of a lifetime.

Aaron Madonna

madonnaI completed my B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Business in December 2008. During my time at CSU I was one of the founding members of United Men of Color, a student organization that has won multiple awards and continues to make an impact on campus. I began my CSU experience in the Key Academic Community. Through the mentorship of the Key Community I was able to select Sociology as my major and loved my experience as an undergrad in the program.

In the spring semester of 2007 Juwon Melvin and I founded DreamReel Media, a company designed to inspire young adults to pursue their passions. Through DreamReel Media I have co-authored 2 books, Destination College and Help IDK What I Want To Do With My Life and have spoken at events throughout the nation. We continue to inspire young people to chase their dreams through our blog ThriveOrDie.

After graduating I worked for CSU’s Office of Admissions and spent over a year traveling the country and recruiting high school students from the states of Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. I loved my experience introducing potential students the university and helping them gain admission.

In May 2011 I left my position with the university and launched LifeSoap Company with Juwon Melvin. LifeSoap Company is a for-profit business that gives 90% of its after-tax profits to support clean water projects for children in developing countries. With LifeSoap Company we will raise $5,000 this year and support clean-water projects at Francisco Morales School and Miguel Larreynaga School, both in Nicaragua. I am currently living in Argentina and plan to travel throughout South America researching future sites for clean water projects.

Had it not been for my experience in the Sociology department, I would not have found my passion for helping other people. I am very proud to be a CSU Ram and will continue to promote the university as one of the best experiences of my life

Marlon Blake

blakeI had the privilege of earning a Sociology degree from Colorado State University in the Spring of 2010. The Sociology department truly impacted my life as a professional and as a human being. My undergraduate experience was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The classes that I was able to take through Sociology helped me to become a more socially conscious human being, challenged my beliefs and values, and allowed me to interact with supportive faculty members who guided me through. My experience inside the classroom helped me outside the classroom as well. Through my classes, I was able to better work with others from different backgrounds, advocate for students on campus, and help cultivated the skills to be successful in these organizations.

After my four years at Colorado State I applied to graduate schools around the country for Higher Education Programs. I am currently a graduate student at Western Illinois University. I work in the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center advising student organizations and developing academic programs for the office. Through my experience here and traveling to different universities around the country, I have learned that Colorado State has an extensive network of professionals in many areas. The CSU alums who I have met have been a tremendous help for me. I one day hope to become a college president and I know that from my experience at Colorado State and the alumni network, they both will help guide me to that goal. I know that my experience as a Sociology student at Colorado State guided me to a career in Higher Education. The sociology classes helped me to realize that helping educated young minds and working to make the world a better place was my calling in life. I still use the lessons learned from my experience at Colorado State to guide me as a young professional in Higher education.

I am so proud to be a graduate of Colorado State. I had a tremendous experience as an out of state student there. There were many areas to get involved in to gain the experiences to grow as a person. I will always be proud to be a CSU Ram. Go Rams!

Tania Valdez

valdezI graduated from CSU in 2007 with a B.A. in Sociology, minor in Spanish, and certificates in Women’s Studies and Chicana/o Studies. While at CSU, I worked in the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies, served as a mentor for the Key Service Community, played in the CSU orchestras, and participated in the University Honors Program, Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society, and Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Inc.

In 2008, I enrolled at University of California, Berkeley School of Law. I have served as an editor on the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, co-founded the Berkeley Law Women of Color Collective, and co-chaired the La Raza Law Students Association. I have represented clients in a variety of immigration matters who are survivors of genocide or domestic violence through my involvement in our student asylum representation clinic and three semesters at the East Bay Community Law Center.

In summer of 2010, I worked on a variety of housing, immigration, labor, and environmental justice issues at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in El Paso, Texas. During the fall 2010 semester, I interned full time with the Indian Law Resource Center in Washington, D.C. I conducted legal research for the Center’s work in Guatemala and new work regarding the Rapa Nui people of Chile. I also assisted with a variety of activities regarding climate change initiatives, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and human rights accountability for multilateral development banks. I am continuing work in the area of human rights this semester as an intern at Accountability Counsel in San Francisco, where I am helping provide policy advocacy toward accountability in international finance and development as well as legal aid to project-affected communities in Latin America.

I will graduate in May 2011 and afterward plan to continue working in immigration and/or international human rights. I am extremely grateful to the College of Liberal Arts, and especially to all of my mentors and peers, for setting me on this path. I eventually hope to teach, in recognition of the powerful impact many teachers, especially my parents and wonderful professors at CSU, have had on my life.

Alex Mitchell

MitchellMy name is Alex Mitchell. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a focus on Biological Sciences in the spring of 2007. I was involved in a wide range of activities and organizations at CSU, including Chapter President for Golden Key International Honor Society, Presidential Intern with the CSU Administration, member of the CSU Honors Program, and member of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society.

After graduating from CSU, I served for one year as a Congressional Intern in the United States House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2008, I enrolled in the George Mason University School of Law and am currently completing my second year of coursework. I have served as a legal intern with the Office of the Public Defender for Arlington County and Falls Church, Virginia, as well as a law clerk with Burnham & Gorokhov, a criminal defense and civil litigation firm in Arlington, Virginia.

I assumed an officer position with the School of Law’s Moot Court Board and am also up for publication with the Green Bag Law Journal in the spring of 2010. I was fortunate to have argued before a panel of sitting Virginia judges at the Fairfax Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia as one of 4 Semi-Finalist teams out of 30 total teams during the school-wide Second Year Oral Argument Competition. I am a member with the Washington-area Big Brothers Big Sisters Plus Program, which focuses on providing mentors for children with incarcerated parents.

I am interested in Education Law, higher education administration, and public service law. I plan to graduate from law school in the spring of 2011 and sit for the Maryland and Washington D.C. bar exams.

Alexis Alvarez

AlvarezMy name is Alexis Alvarez. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Criminal Justice concentration) in the spring of 2007. During my time at CSU, I was an active member of the Victim Assistance Team and a tutor in the Triunfo/Triumph Tutoring Program. Following graduation, I served a one-year term as an Americorps VISTA volunteer in San Mateo, California, where I developed and implemented capacity-building strategies and conducted outreach for an incentive program that promotes professional development and higher education for Early Childhood Educators. I am currently a second-year student at the University of California-Davis School of Law (King Hall). I am the Recruitment and Retention Co-Chair of the La Raza Law Students Association and a member of UC-Davis Law Review. I plan on practicing Labor and Employment Law and will be working at the Employment Law Center in San Francisco during the Summer 2010 as part of their disability rights program which seeks to provide legal representation to low-income persons with mental disabilities who experience stigma, prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.

Leonard Large

largeMy name is Leonard Large. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Criminology concentration) in the spring of 2008. During my time at CSU, I studied Japanese for three years and I was an active member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the Sociology Honor Society. Through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, I am currently living in the small town of Tsuwano in Western Japan where I work for the local Board of Education as an Assistant Language Teacher. As part of my position, I regularly visit 10 schools in the area (7 elementary and 3 junior high). On some days, I also run an English conversation class for adults. In general, I’m here to foster foreign language communication and internationalization by teaching English in the schools and interacting with the students and community at a grassroots level. But that’s just a fancy way of saying I get to play soccer and dodgeball with Japanese kids during recess and become their living jungle gym after class. Living in Japan has been a tremendous experience and it seems like every day there’s something new and exciting.

Spotlight on Graduates

Michelle Meyer

meyerIn 2013, I received my Ph.D. in sociology from CSU focusing on social capital and collective efficacy in disaster situations. Because of my work as a Research Assistant on many disaster-related projects with Professors at CSU, I was offered a position at Texas A&M University in the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC).

As an Assistant Research Scientist in the HRRC, I work on two projects. First, I manage a National Science Foundation grant on local jurisdictions hazard mitigation plans. In this project I am administering an electronic survey of about 2,000 coastal jurisdictions. Second, I am Principal Investigator on a qualitative interview project looking at disaster recovery in two small Texas towns—one that had a tornado and one that faced an explosion. Also, during my first year in this position, I have been asked to travel with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to Sri Lanka and to Taiwan to conduct research and learn about international disaster response. As an emerging scholar, the connections I am making in my field have been phenomenal… and it all began at CSU.

This position at Texas A&M fits perfectly into my scholarly interests and I have been allowed to grow and develop my research agenda while working with top academics in my field. I am supremely grateful to my educational training at CSU and support of the wonderful professors for helping me get to this place! First, academic training in environmental and hazard courses is available in Sociology and in collaboration with other departments at the university. From Sociology of Disaster to Environmental Sociology, I was able to learn the basics of my field while fulfilling my course requirements. As a Global Sustainability Fellow in the School of Global Environmental Change at CSU, I met individuals doing hazard and environmental research from numerous disciplines, which increased my ability to work interdisciplinary with engineers, planners, political scientists, and economists on hazard issues.

Second, and probably most important, was the professors working at CSU who helped shape my career trajectory. During my time in both the Masters and Ph.D. programs at CSU, I had wonderful research methods training from Michael Lacy, Jeni Cross, Lori Peek, and professors in other departments. I was also able to work on disaster and environmental research with Lori Peek, Jeni Cross, Prabha Unnithan, and Craig Trumbo (Department of Journalism and Technical Communication). This mentorship that developed in each project was foundational to my ability to do a variety of methods and have the foundational knowledge in my subfield. This legacy I continue in my current position, engaging four graduate students and three undergraduates in my research. When asked by graduate students about careers and how to prepare, I give only that one tidbit of information—get on a research project with a professor you admire! Because of the small size of CSU’s graduate program, I was able to engage with numerous professors and also build a very close working relationship with my Ph.D. advisor Lori Peek. Working on over four projects with her, I learned research, theory, and professionalism to be a scholar in our field. Today, I am continuing these collaborations; I’m still publishing from projects with Drs. Cross, Unnithan, Trumbo, and Peek and I’m writing new research grants with Drs. Trumbo and Peek to continue working together. Further, because of my close connection with my cohort of environmental and disaster graduates who are now beginning careers across the country, those friendships I built going through the program are not professional relationships that are leading to new and exciting collaborations. For example, Daniel McLane (St. Lawrence University) and I are preparing guest lectures for each other’s institutions and Andrew Prelog (Sam Houston State University) are developing a research proposal based on the environmental justice theories we learned together at CSU.

The foundation in Sociology, specialty and cross-disciplinary knowledge in hazards and disasters, and mentorship available in CSU’s Sociology graduate program has been my springboard into amazing opportunities I never even imagined when I was applying to graduate schools.

Chelsea Schelly


After receiving my Master’s degree in Sociology from CSU in 2008, I returned to the institution where I’d earned my Bachelor’s (University of Wisconsin-Madison) to complete my PhD. This fall, 2013, I finished my degree and started working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

The Social Sciences Dept. at Michigan Tech offers a new PhD program in Environmental and Energy Policy. This program fits perfectly with my research interests in alternative energy technologies, alternative technology adoption, sustainable communities, and environmental education. I am interested in the motivations for changes in behavior related to energy and technology usage, in how the technologies we use shape social relationships and social organization, and ultimately in how using alternative technologies based on renewable energy sources and distributed scales of production reshape social relationships and social organization.

My educational experiences at Colorado State provided key opportunities for my professional development, and certainly helped me get where I am today. The small size of the program and generally shared research interests among many of the faculty allowed me to plug in to research opportunities and begin to build a publication record. I had an advisor who helped me develop my academic passions and my writing abilities, and worked on publications with other faculty members who were willing to teach me new skills. During my time at CSU, I got involved in a research project on energy conservation in the public school district that continues to influence the direction of some of my own work. I also had the opportunity to manage an academic journal, which gave me firsthand exposure to the world of academic publishing and made the processes of publishing papers and attending conferences much less daunting and mysterious.

CSU’s graduate program in Sociology gave me a firm foundation in environmental sociology and opened up amazing possibilities for research. My time at CSU helped me to build my academic record and work on professional development in ways that simply were not possible once I entered a much larger PhD program. CSU’s program offers an opportunity to work closely with stellar faculty members who really do value their roles as mentors who provide their students with meaningful experiences that will help them be successful. This is a value I hope to carry with me as I begin my own academic career.

Jennifer Keahey

keaheyI am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Arizona State University West where my work broadly focuses on questions concerning political economy, social justice, and sustainable development. With experience in multiple world regions, I’ve had the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary and global background. My interests have been influenced by a number of wonderful mentors at Colorado State University (Ph.D. Sociology) and Clark University (M.A. International Development and Social Change). At CSU, I collaborated with the internationally recognized Center for Fair & Alternative Trade (CFAT) on a variety of projects and publications. As such, I am particularly indebted to the challenging and supportive mentorship of CFAT’s Co-Directors, Laura Raynolds and Douglas Murray. Lori Peek (CSU), David Bell (Clark), and William Fisher (Clark) also have informed my thinking and growth as a scholar. For my dissertation, I partnered with CFAT and a team of South African scholars, practitioners, and farmer leaders to examine issues facing smallholder Rooibos tea producers as they seek to expand entry into alternative world markets. Via in-depth participatory action fieldwork we developed a research approach that integrates theoretical advancements in political economy with participatory development methodology. I continue to remain involved with CFAT as an Associate and look forward to deepening my research agenda at ASU West.

Michael Long

longI am currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University. So many faculty members at CSU helped shape my academic interests and contributed to my career that I don’t have the space here to discuss all of them. However, I would like to mention a few. I completed my dissertation in 2010 at CSU, under the direction of Laura Raynolds, which focused on ethical consumption in the agro-food sector. I worked with Laura Raynolds and Doug Murray on a number of projects related to alternative trade, and those collaborations continue today, as I was recently named a faculty associate of the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade. I worked with Mike Hogan on several projects that examined how campaign contribution influenced the awarding of reconstruction contracts in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan and post-Katrina New Orleans. Some of my fondest memories of my time at CSU were my daily conversations, and working sessions, with Ken Berry about statistics, research methods, the discipline of sociology and just life in general.

I continue to collaborate with CSU faculty members as well as my new colleagues at Oklahoma State University. A few of the projects that I am currently working on involve how academics should approach the study of state crime, as well as an investigation of how companies in the coal industry influence environmental legislation. I am also continuing my work on ethical consumption; where I am examining the different ways that consuming ethically can help community development projects. I have published numerous articles and book chapters in my main areas of interest: ethical consumption, criminology and quantitative methodology.

Michael Davern

davern I am currently the Senior Vice President, Director of Public Health Research with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In this role I oversee the department’s public health survey and analytical research for clients that include the federal government and foundations. My expertise includes survey research, public health data, linking surveys with administrative data, Census Bureau data and the use of these data for policy research simulation and evaluation. My vision is to improve population health by providing policy makers with better information to make decisions. To that end, I analyze data sources to clearly demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses in assessing the impacts of health policy. I have published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles on evaluating health data quality, survey methodology, social networks, health insurance, income measurement, and health disparities. I have also helped secure more than 50 grants and contracts for public health and social science research.

My training in social research methods and statistics began at Colorado State in the Master’s program with Dennis Mileti, Mike Lacy, and Ken Berry. Dennis taught a very challenging and engaging social research methods course and both Mike and Ken provided me with a great deal of “informal” training outside of the classroom. A typical Saturday morning would involve sitting down in the student center with Ken over coffee discussing issues of the day and how they related to statistics in particular (and of course Least Absolute Deviation techniques). After working in my office the day would come to end with a conversation with Mike Lacy in the afternoon. Mike was usually trying to teach himself something such as matrix algebra or Stata programming and we could tell when he needed a break. It was Mike who first suggested to me Public Health would be a great place for me to pursue future graduate work in. Instead of immediately following his advice I went on in Sociology and received a Ph.D. and after some time at the U.S. Census Bureau I then joined the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. And after 10 years at the University of Minnesota I became the Director of Public Health Research at NORC.

Other professors who contributed greatly to my training including D. Stanley Eitzen and Prabha Unnithan who taught me about the world of peer reviewed publications, provided very sage advice on strategies to get work published. My informal training was also helped by the outstanding group of graduate students I had the pleasure of working with and learning from while at Colorado State. Overall the intellectual environment was challenging and supportive. Looking back on my graduate education I realize that Colorado State and the faculty and graduate students I worked with shaped my career in crucial ways as a social science researcher and I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of sociology at Colorado State.

Paul Stock

stock I am currently an Assistant Professor in Sociology and the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Kansas (starting August 2012). In 2009, I finished my Ph.D. in Sociology at CSU. My dissertation focused on the Catholic Worker movement’s farms. The coursework I completed and relationships I developed at CSU helped me to secure a postdoc position in New Zealand as a researcher and lecturer in sociology teaching courses on global food, environmental sociology and theory. At the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (, I used what I learned at CSU to help me understand the cultural and social changes in New Zealand agriculture. My work has taken me across New Zealand talking to farmers about the changes in their families and farm systems while also putting me in touch with government and industry representatives, agronomists, economists, ecologists, biologists, zoologists, anthropologists, and geographers. And it allowed me the opportunity to work on a book with colleagues around the world – Food Systems Failure. In addition to that book, I continue to publish about the Catholic Worker movement and farmers’ experiences in international agriculture. I look forward to maintaing a close relationship with the faculty in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State who have contributed to these experiences.

Lisa Nathan Rode

RodeI was a master’s student in the Sociology Department from 1993 to 1995. I worked closely with Dr. Douglas Murray on issues related to development and wrote my thesis on the degree to which levels of farmer participation and empowerment impacted the success of NGOs trying to transition small farmers in Nicaragua from chemicals to integrated pest management. I had a fantastic time digging into development theory and practice, collaborating with my professors and fellow students, and spending time in South and Central America. After all these years, though, I still have a bit of guilt about how I tortured Dr. Murray with my inability to remember author names. I regularly referred to arguments not by the author’s name but by the color and image on the cover of the book (e.g., “You know, the blue one with the wheel on the front.”) and, if I remember correctly, it made him nuts.

After finishing my degree, I returned to Seattle to work for a start-up software company creating tools to record and measure health care outcomes. The six-month contract accidentally turned into a 15-year career in software product management that took me to several countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and immersed me in several different industries including health care, law, mobile telecommunications, and, most recently, online retail at At numerous points along the way, I marveled at the physical and intellectual distance between the work I was doing at that moment and that that I had done while a master’s student. The user focus groups and usability studies I conducted during my software career did, however, provide an avenue for tapping into my sociological training; and, I did randomly impress–and/or annoy–friends and colleagues with my ability to weave terms like “hegemony” and the “pedagogy of the oppressed” into conversations.

Two years ago my husband was offered a great job on the Jersey Shore, which is fortunately a short, very civilized ferry ride to Manhattan. Earlier this year while conducting my extensive personal research on the best restaurants in the City, I learned that New York University offers graduate degrees in Food Studies. The Food Systems concentration there is only a year or two old and is an interesting interdisciplinary program focused on the social, environmental, and ethical impacts of current food policies, production, and distribution. I was accepted to the program and begin coursework this summer 2010. As of this writing, I have already completed about a third of the reading for the course (which is being taught by one of the program’s advisors who is a sociologist by the way). So far, I am thoroughly enjoying the topic and the act of examining it in a disciplined way. I am excited about this opportunity to combine my passion for food and food-related issues with the insights gleaned during my corporate experience and the framework from my previous graduate work at CSU. Plus, the NYU campus is just a few short blocks from the best cupcake shop in the City and from a new restaurant that just opened up that serves only meatballs.

Julie Raulli

RaulliI’m lucky. I’m doing exactly what I want: teaching Sociology and coordinating the Women’s Studies Program at a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. I’m fortunate to have had mentors in the Sociology Department at Colorado State who helped me get to where I am today. They not only encouraged me throughout the dissertation process, but they provided me with the sociological training I now use to teach courses such as Introduction to Sociology, Women in Society, Qualitative Methods, and Sociological Theory.

My love for, and commitment to, sociology as an academic discipline came relatively late. I was an English and Peace Studies double major as an undergraduate and did not take my first sociology course until I was a graduate student in Philosophy at CSU. But I’ve found that my circuitous route to sociology has served me well. As a faculty member at Wilson I have been able to coordinate interdisciplinary undergraduate courses that infuse sociological problems into other disciplinary frameworks. Working with colleagues in French and Fine Art I helped to coordinate a three-week summer course in Montreal that used literary, artistic, and sociological approaches to explore French Canadian women’s issues. I’m now coordinating a January-term course for visiting Korean students entitled American Myths and Dreams that analyzes social inequalities in the United States from a number of disciplinary perspectives.

As a result of my sociological training I cannot help but see the world in new, complex, and oftentimes troubling ways. My hope is that after studying sociology, my students also have a new way of seeing and thinking about the world. From my conversations with them inside and outside of the classroom, I frequently get the sense that they do.

Zeynep Angin Shorter

zeynepMy name is Zeynep Angin Shorter, and I was a graduate student in the department from 1996 to 2003. I started my Ph.D. program in Sociology as an international student from Istanbul, Turkey. For my dissertation, I did a comparative study of immigration policies in the United States, Canada, and Germany, with a particular focus on Turkish immigrants in Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. My professional interest in immigration paralleled my own personal process of immigrating to the United States. After graduation, I, with my husband, settled in Seattle, Washington, and wanted to create a professional research path for myself outside of academia. After some soul searching and scanning of opportunities, I realized that combining my sociology background with the health field would give me the edge needed. In 2006, I received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington.

I currently work for Washington State Department of Health as the first and only rural health epidemiologist of the state. My job involves investigating health problems disproportionally affecting rural areas in the state and researching their root causes. It is rural sociology married to health sciences. Washington State’s population is dominantly urban, but the state itself is dominantly rural in terms of land area. Only about one in every six people lives in a rural area. Addressing rural health disparities requires an understanding of rural culture(s), racial and ethnic composition, the socioeconomic context, and the organization of health services to cover vast areas with low population density. Some of my current projects include traumatic brain injury, OB/delivery services in rural hospitals, and rural disparities in cancer screening and early detection.

Colorado State University