Public Sociology MA Alumni

Sam Bryant, 2012

sam bryant Emphasis: I completed the dual track for the Sociology MA; this allowed me to broaden my horizons and learn skills for both teaching and applied sociology.

Final Product: I did a policy assessment entitled: "Public Policy Assessment of Local Government Approaches to Implementing California's Medical Marijuana Laws".

Methods Used: This policy assessment was a multi-case study that utilized a mixed methods design. I conducted telephone and in-person interviews, an analysis of medical marijuana ordinances, explored archival and government data, and used field observations.

Current Career: I started as a telephone interviewer for the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State University, and later was promoted to shift supervisor. As funding became available the University opened up a new research facility titled Public Health Survey Research Program. I am now the Research Technician I (Research Analyst I) at the Public Health Survey Research Program at Sacramento State University.

Before the Program: Prior to the program I attended University of California, Riverside where I graduated with my BA in Sociology. At UCR I was always trying to get involved with various research opportunities, and my senior year was able to work with Criminologist Robert Nash Parker.

Why HSU Public Sociology: After receiving my BA I worked for a year, and applied to research analyst positions. I soon realized I was under qualified for the positions I wanted, so I began exploring my options. I knew I truly enjoyed sociology and wanted to continue to do research, so I applied to Humboldt State's MA Program. I loved the idea of applied, also known as practicing sociology. I wanted to be able to work with and serve marginalized groups, and conduct research that would benefit those groups in the future. I knew I would be taken more seriously with a degree and the ability to pursue research under the university, with non-profits, and through other professional outlets.

How HSU Public Sociology Helped: Humboldt State Sociology Master's program helped me in many ways. It helped me grow as an individual, and provided me with knowledge and skills that laid the foundation for a career in research analysis.

Advice for New Students:The coursework is only half the battle; the thesis is the big ticket item.Try to find a topic that you are passionate about and can devote a year of your life learning and writing about.

Pay attention to the experiences your classmates and your professors bring to the table in discussions. It is invaluable how different someone's perspective can be based on their class, race, sexual orientation, sex, and age; and essential to understand that everyone has a unique understanding of the world and to cherish those distinct understandings.

Nicole Chappelle, 2015

nicole chappelle Emphasis:
Practicing Sociology

Research Interests:

Food Security, Food Policy, Food Justice
Education/Career Goals: To continue being a researcher influencing the lives of people in rural communities in the areas of health and food security.

Before the Program:
I received a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Sacramento State in 2011. I took off some time before considering applying for a master's degree, teaching Zumba classes and working odd jobs.

My placement is with the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) and I will be designing a marketing and outreach plan for administering an HSU Student Food Security Survey. I will also assist in the analysis and summarization of the data.

Why HSU Public Sociology:
I decided to continue on with sociology because of my background in sociology, and I wanted more experience with research methods. I chose HSU because I am from this area and I love the climate, location, and the campus.

Favorite place to see/visit in Humboldt County: Arcata Community Forest External Link, Trinidad State Beach External Link, Strawberry Rock External Link, and Kimtu Beach External Link along the Trinity River External Link (in Willow Creek External Link).

Patric Esh, 2015

patric esh Emphasis:
Teaching Sociology

Research Interests:

Social Movements, Dispute Resolution

Education/Career Goals: Continue to teach. I would rather teach at a university or college, but I’m keeping my options open.

Before the Program:
Primarily finishing a B.A. in communication at HSU, but I was also working, spending time with Lindsey, my wife, playing with my daughters, working on something around the house, reading books about theory, talking to myself about theory because let's be honest who reads books about theory outside of class, reflecting on why I might be talking to myself, and watching movies.

Thesis: I am conducting research on the attitudes and perceptions of rural police officers regarding protest events. I want to know what they think about protests, protesters, and other related topics.

Why HSU Public Sociology: I wanted to continue my academic journey and sociology was an easy leap from the communication discipline. HSU had a sociology department with an emphasis in teaching, so I knew it would be a good option for me.

About HSU Public Sociology: Computers turn off for maintenance at 3am every day. Professors have officer hours, make your self a regular visitor, but don’t waste their time either. Alicia Persson, Administrative Support Coordinator, has candy; she also knows stuff so take the time to visit.

Favorite place to see/visit in Humboldt County: The Arcata Marsh External Link

Stephanie Lane, 2015

stephanie lane Emphasis: I chose a dual track for my masters. I have always had a passion for teaching and am very interested in some day being a full time professor. However, I learn the best by participation and having a placement through the participating emphasis really gave me the opportunity to gain the skills needed to put sociology into action. With both tracks under my belt, now the sky's the limit!

Final Product: I used my placement as an opportunity to create a project for the HSU athletics department. I used existing HSU student data to create a report relevant to HSU issues and to help break down the stigma surrounding student athletes. The report compared the HSU student body to the student athlete body. All of the data was presented visually so any person, at any intellectual level, could easily understand the information being reported. It will now be a report that is done on an annual basis and will be used as a model for other special student populations on campus. Especially those groups that don't have the resources available to conduct a large scale research project.

Current Career: During my second year of the program I became the Assistant Athletic Director at Humboldt State. This was a big change and one that required a higher level of responsibility and time management. Working full time while doing any program is really tough but I felt very supported by the faculty and my cohort. I am still the assistant athletic director and am enjoying my position. I plan to take on a research project this year to continue with my sociology training. I'm very interested in the sociology of sport and hope to continue my education through collaborative projects in my athletics career.

Before the Program:
Prior to starting the Sociology MA program I was an admissions counselor at Humboldt State University. I never thought I'd pursue a graduate degree but all of the right doors opened up for me to have the opportunity. I was able to work with professors to accommodate my work travel schedule and we were creative in how I attended class. When I was out recruiting for the university I would attend class via Skype and my cohort was so flexible and understanding about the "virtual" version of my participation. It wasn't ideal but we worked hard to find a solution so I could indeed start the program. Fortunately my work situation changed and we only had to do that for one semester.

Methods Used: I chose to do a quantitative project. I wanted to do something that used existing data. Prior to starting my graduate degree, I was always under the assumption that research had be from data an individual personally collected, not necessarily from data that was already in existence. In a world of limited budgets for research, I found it very fascinating to be able to create a project that didn't collect new data but utilized information already in existence. Being able to use data that doesn't have a price tag to gather, means there are more projects that can be done in offices that might not otherwise think they could look deeper. I'm hoping more departments on campus will look more critically at their student populations and be able to report the information they find to the general population.

Why HSU Public Sociology: When I first started looking into graduate programs I was ready to complete an MBA. As I was getting ready to take the GMAT I realized that I wasn't passionate about business as a career but was simply pursuing an MBA because it seemed like a good career move. So, I didn't show up for the test even though I'd already paid for it. Fortunately, I decided not to listen to what I thought I should do and instead decided to pursue something that I was excited and eager to learn more about, sociology. It is one of the best decisions I've ever made and I would be happy to chat with anyone who is on the fence about starting the program or not.

How HSU Public Sociology Helped: Sociology gets me excited! I use the skills and knowledge I've gained through my masters degree everyday to better understand the people I encounter. It definitely gives me a new lens with which to see the world. I'm more conscious of the media and what's not being reported. I spend a lot of time reflecting on my experiences, how they have effected my life and those around me, as well as how can I continue to work towards social justice in everything I do. I don't want to be a person that is content, rather someone that is always questioning the world around me. Sociology most certainly has given me an outlet to find interesting ways to do just that.

About HSU Public Sociology: Wow! What an amazing group of people. My cohort was very small, five students to be exact. I loved having such an intimate graduate group to share experiences with. We really became family and still stay in touch. We have all said how lucky we feel to have had such a tight knit cohort.

The faculty are really easy to connect with. I feel comfortable reaching out to any of the professors and know that they will provide good advice or feedback on my inquiries. They are good about being understanding of students' situations but also good about keeping us on track when we get unmotivated. They are also very supportive of their students' interests. It's not uncommon to receive an email about an opportunity that is within my topic of study and could be a possible new path for further research. They are very good about connecting and networking their students into career and research opportunities.

Stephanie Martinez, 2015

stephanie martinez Emphasis:
Practicing Sociology

Research Interests:

Arts as a way to promote social justice and social change in communities
Education/Career Goals: I want to create a non-profit organization and/or theater company with a focus on promoting social justice and change in different communities

Before the Program:
I received my BA in Social Sciences emphasizing Participatory Action Research from the University of Puerto Rico in 2013. While in Puerto Rico I conducted a 2 1/2 year research project with my fellow cohort, focusing on community theater and social change. I taught dancing, acrobatics and aerial silk and aerial hoop classes independently and was part of the National Circus of Puerto Rico.

Placement: I am conducting a program evaluation research for Dell' Arte International School of Physical Theater External Link of their Rural Residency Program.

Why HSU Public Sociology: I have a strong belief in "Praxis", and the Practicing Sociology emphasis offered the opportunity to collaborate with a local organization.

Colleen O'Sullivan, 2014

photo coming soon Emphasis: Teaching Sociology
Final Product: Thesis - Victim-Offender Mediation in the Humboldt County Justice System
Current Career: I continue to work in construction management, and look forward to finding a career in the field of dispute resolution.

Before the Program: I was working for a large, local company and had realized that I had worked my way up as far as I was going to make it in the company, any local company for that matter. I decided I needed to return to school so I could work towards something I was passionate about as well as fulfilling. Completing my undergrad in Child Development, I had learned about the self and developmental stages, I was now curious on how society impacted that development and the choices we make.

MA Project: Needs assessment on the Humboldt County justice system, and the use of victim-offender mediation as an alternative to incarceration.

Methods Used: Focus groups, qualitative interviews using grounded theory.

Why HSU Public Sociology: It was a local graduate program that allowed for me to shape my learning outcomes. I felt I had a say in the direction my learning went and that I wasn't just fulfilling program requirements.

How HSU Public Sociology Helped: I grew a lot during the program, not only professionally, but personally. The program allowed for me to work towards the goal of a masters, something I never dreamed of, while providing me insight to professional opportunities I would have otherwise never known of.

Advice for new students: Stick with it. The first semester is a trying one and once you get through the first year it is all down hill.

Janae Teal, 2015

hsu logo Emphases:
Practicing Sociology AND Teaching Sociology

Research Interests:

Gender, Sexuality, Juvenile Justice, Race, and Education

Education/Career Goals: I would like to be involved in curriculum analysis and/or education policy analysis.

Before the Program:
Before coming to HSU, I attended Washington State University where I received Bachelor’s Degrees in Sociology and English. While attending WSU I worked for the Office of Student Involvement as well as the Office of Student Diversity. I was very involved in campus activism and social justice within LGBT communities.

I did my placement work with the National Center for Youth Law (NYCL) External Link. As a sociologist who is passionate about the systematic disadvantages that are faced by children in both the education and juvenile justice systems, I could think of no better organization that I would like to work with for my placement. I will be writing a thesis based on this work.

Why HSU Public Sociology:
I was first attracted to the fact that the HSU Sociology MA is a terminal Master’s Degree. I am still on the fence about whether I want to attend a PhD program, so this program has given me time to figure that out a bit. Additionally, I was intrigued by the option to get a Master’s in Public Sociology. I am a firm believer in taking the sociological (and research!) skills taught in the classroom, and applying them in the real world. I figured a Public Sociology program would be a great place to start!

About HSU Public Sociology: Everyone that I have worked with is so kind. Alicia (in the Sociology Office) is fantastic! She will make your grad school experience better—I promise! :)

Favorite place to see/visit in Humboldt County:
Fern Canyon External Link (Outdoor Adventure) and Arcata Scoop External Link (Best Ice Cream. Ever.)

Apply for the HSU Master's Degree in Public Sociology

Learn more about what you can do with a Master’s degree in Sociology:

From the American Sociological Association:

Other Sociology Career Resources: