Public Sociology MA Alumni

Sam Bryant, 2014

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: Shift Supervisor and Research Assistant at the Institute for Social Research 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.

Stephanie Lane, 2014

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.

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.

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:

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