Sociology Scholarship & Awards – 2015

Today, we hosted a luncheon to celebrate the Sociology Program’s Scholarship and Award Winners for 2015 in the Kaibab Room at the University Union.  After everyone found the room (it’s up and over and around and then down on the other side . . . . ), we had a short award ceremony.  The chair of the department, Kathleen J. Ferraro, announced all of the winners and gave a brief introduction of each student.

This is such a busy time of year, we’re glad that we were able to make the time to hold this event.  It’s important to recognize our best students.  Thank you to everyone for coming and congratulations to the winners!  Here’s a list of the students we honored today:

The Vicki K. Brown-Carpenter Memorial Scholarship: Nancy Ramos
The Sociology Department Scholarship: Ashley Kessler
The Kanan Family Endowment Scholarship: Jake Smith
The Edward E Walker Sociology Scholarship: Katherine George
The Stepping Stone Scholarship: Nicole Hill
Outstanding Sociology Seniors: Demi Greco, Shelby Coopwood and Sinead McSweeney
Outstanding Sociology Students: Desiree Hopkins, Selena Quiroz
Outstanding 1st Year Graduate Students: Teri Jo Kesti, Erin Whitesitt
Outstanding 2nd Year Graduate Students: Amanda Brand, James Kirkham

Here are some pictures from the luncheon.

What do Sociologists do for fun?

Here’s one thing we do:

On a weekend at the beginning of April, eleven folks from the Department of Sociology and Social Work traveled to Long Beach, California to attend the Pacific Sociological Association’s 86th annual meeting, entitled “People, Place, and Power.” Not only did we make the trek to present our own research, but also to learn about the research of colleagues in the discipline.

While in Long Beach, we were lucky enough to run into some alumni from our department, such as Susan Bell Murray, a graduate from our B.S. program in Sociology in 1988 and currently an Associate Professor of Sociology at San Jose State University, and Stephanie Williams, a graduate from our B.S. program in Sociology and currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice here at NAU.

For your enjoyment, here are some photographs of our departmental members being scholarly (and celebrating and well, even resting).

Please find below a list of all the formal research presentations made by members of our department, both graduate students and faculty.

Lou Baker, “Transgender outside the city: Transmasculine identity and the non-metropolitan gender experience.”

Amanda Brand, “From Locked Doors to Locked Screens: Sexting as a GenderedPerformance of Sexuality and Privacy.”

Sean Boylan, “The Drug War, Social Movements and the Repeal of Cannabis Prohibition: Changing Public Opinion.”

Katherine Everhart, “Everything but the Funnel Cake: Cultural Expressions and the University of Puerto Rico Student Occupation.”

James Kirkham, “How Much Can We Take: Craft breweries explosion and the power of local markets.”

Yvonna M. Luna and Anne M. Medill, “Faculty-led study abroad: Reflections on students’ cross-cultural engagement.”

Kooros Mahmoudi, “How to Choose, Navigate, and Align your Graduate Program with your Career Objectives.”

Joe Martin, “The Cost of Freedom: Homelessness as a Nomadic Lifestyle.”

Dick Skeen, “Sexuality: Meaning Webs and Their Evolution.”

Social Science & Social Change Conference

Our Social Science & Social Change Conference is right around the corner – two weeks from tomorrow on Friday, March 6th, from 9AM – 4PM at the DuBois Center.  We hope everyone comes out to participate in the panel discussions, eat some lunch with us, listen to the Keynote Speaker, and watch a short-form documentary on migrant workers.  Stay for the whole day, or just drop in on the parts that interest you most!

If you’ve never been to an academic conference before, this is a great way to get your feet wet.  All of the presenters are from within the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences – even our keynote speaker, Dr. Javier Trevino, is an alumnus of the Applied Sociology MA program.  We are having 4 sessions with two panels each throughout the day, on topics as varied as Student Success to Art & Culture to Gender and Sexuality.  Presenters will talk about their research, and then there will be a short Q&A portion for each panel so you can ask questions, too.  This is not about sitting and listening to lectures, this should be a day where you can take a deeper dive into concepts learned in your classes and see how they’re applied in the real world – more specifically, see how the Social Sciences can impact Social Change.

If you’d like to attend, please register by February 27th using our online form.  You’ll find more details about the schedule and titles of presentations on our website, too.  If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to contact the department office –


UPDATE:  The deadline to apply for Department scholarship (all of those listed below) has been extended to Friday, February 6th, midnight.  NAU Foundation scholarship applications still close on the 31st.

January 31, 2015 is the deadline to apply for scholarships, including department scholarships and NAU Foundation scholarships.  If you qualify for any of these scholarships and you haven’t already applied – get to it!  This is, after all, free money, and there isn’t a whole lot of that just floating around these days.

The application for ALL Department scholarships is here.

If you are a Sociology Major, you may want to consider applying for one of these scholarships:

Stepping Stone Scholarship (Brand New!)
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are a Sociology Major; AND
– You are a single parent; AND
– You are will be a Junior or Senior for the 2015-2016 academic year (next school year!).

Vicki K. Brown-Carpenter Memorial Scholarship
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are Sociology OR Social Work Major; AND
– You will be a Junior, Senior OR Graduate Student for the 2015-2016 academic year; AND
– You have at least a 3.0 cum GPA; AND
– You have completed at least 60 units of coursework; AND
– You have demonstrated financial need according to the FASFA (don’t forget to fill that out, too!).
– Preference may be given to graduates of an Arizonan Community College.

Kanan Family Endowment
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are a Sociology Major.
– Preference may be given to Juniors.

Sociology Department Scholarship
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are a Sociology Major; AND
– You are a full time student, undergraduate OR graduate; AND
– You have a minimum cum GPA of 3.0; AND
– You must write an essay that includes details of any:
– awards or honors; OR
– participation in college clubs, organizations, including leadership positions; OR
– community service; OR
– any additional information that explains why and how you are an exceptional sociology student.

Edward E. Walker Scholarship
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are a Sociology Major; AND
– You will be a Junior or Senior during the 2015-2016 academic year; AND
– You have demonstrated financial need according to the FASFA (don’t forget to fill that out, too!).

If you are a Social Work major (and have been accepted into the BSW program), you may want to consider applying to one of these scholarships:

Vicki K. Brown-Carpenter Memorial Scholarship
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are Sociology OR Social Work Major; AND
– You will be a Junior, Senior OR Graduate Student for the 2015-2016 academic year; AND
– You have at least a 3.0 cum GPA; AND
– You have completed at least 60 units of coursework; AND
– You have demonstrated financial need according to the FASFA (don’t forget to fill that out, too!).
Preference may be given to graduates of an Arizonan Community College.

Virginia Rae Kurner Memorial Scholarship
Apply for this scholarship if:
– You are a Social Work Major (you must be accepted into the BSW program); AND
– You will be a Junior or Senior for the 2015 – 2016 academic year; AND
– You are and will continue to be enrolled for a minimum of 12 units/semester; AND
– You have demonstrated financial need according to the FASFA (don’t forget to fill that out, too!); AND
– You have demonstrated academic achievement; AND
– You have demonstrated good character.

Please also check out the NAU Foundation website for scholarships – there are at least two that are specifically for Social Work students.  The link at the bottom of the Foundation’s page takes you to a spreadsheet you can use to learn more about their scholarships.

A New Semester!

A belated welcome back to everyone!

Are you wondering what to do with yourself now that spring semester is here?  The Sociology & Social Work Department has a few ideas on what might be interesting, thought provoking, and fun between now and May 7.

Important Dates and Events

January 31 – Last day to apply for departmental and NAU Foundation Scholarships!  Are you a sophomore or junior Sociology or Social Work major or minor?  If you are, check out all the scholarships we have available:, including the brand new Stepping Stone Scholarship that is for Sociology Majors who are also single parents.

Don’t forget to also look at the list of scholarships available through the NAU Foundation.  You can find those here:  The spreadsheet is available at the bottom of the page, and you’ll need to create a login to apply.

February 9 – Do you want to take a class this summer?  Enrollment for summer begins.

March 6 – the first annual Social Science Social Change Conference will take place on Friday, March 6 from 9 – 4.  Come see presentations made by faculty and students!  We’re also hosting a lunch with a talk by Dr. Javier Trevino, one of our very own alumni, and a documentary short by Michelle Tellez, one of our full time faculty members.  Details will be posted as they become available!

March is also Social Work month!  The Social Work Program will have events throughout the month.

April 1 – 17 – Fall 2015 Early Enrollment.  Do you know what classes you want to take in the Fall?  Do you need to meet with an advisor?  Get ready to sign up!

April 24The 8th Annual Undergraduate Student Symposium at the SkyDome and DuBois Center.  Sign up to present, or go to the event to see what your fellow students are working on and support your friends!

May 1 – Last day to apply for Fall 2015 (December) Graduation!

May 1 – Also, last day of classes!

May 4 – 7 – Finals Week

May 8 & 9 – Commencement!

SSW on an International Stage

One of our newest faculty members, Dr. Mohamed, spent part of his winter break in Prague, Czech Republic.  Here’s his Note from Prague:

“The event was a “Public Debate” that was organized by the European House in Prague, Czech Republic. The topic was “Islamophobia in Czech Republic.” It was held on January 8, 2015 from 3:00 to 5:30 PM, but was extended to 6:00 PM. The booked hall was full and more chairs were brought to accommodate the audience. Several Islamophobes attended the debate, including the author of Islamic Expansion and a moderator of a list that calls to kick Muslims out of Czech Republic. That list got 90,000 signatures over FaceBook. It is worthy to mention that the Muslim community in Czech Republic is a little over 3000. The meeting took place one day after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris, so the environment was already inflamed. Czech Islamophobes make provocative statements, such as “every Muslim is a terrorist and every terrorist is a Muslim,” “Muslims must be sent to gas chambers,” and “there is no place for Muslims in Europe.” By all means the event turned out to be successful. It was the first event that addresses Islamophobia in Czech Republic, and my contribution was covered by several Czech newspapers. The discussion was deep, engaging and fruitful, and I was thanked by the author who is a leading figure among Czech Islamophobes.”

Graduate School: Tips on a Successful Application

Are you thinking about graduate school? Do you want to apply to a special program? Every year, we receive applications to our Social Work Program (BSW) and Applied Sociology Masters Program and get to see some really good applications and some that need a little more work. Student success is a primary goal of our department – we want you to get into that graduate school or special program or get that job!

We’ll be posting a series of blogs about different aspects of a typical application. If you have any questions about anything in these blogs, feel free to email us at To start you off, here are some general tips on the process.

General Tips

1.  Follow directions! If the application asks for three references and a 1,000 word personal statement, make sure you have three references and that your personal statement is at least 1,000 words. Too often, we receive a 1 page statement (closer to 250 words) and not all references. You may have to follow up with your references to make sure that they send in the reference form or go online to complete an online referral form.

2.  Ask questions! If a direction isn’t quite clear, or you think you might qualify as an exception to a rule, but aren’t sure – ask! Email or call the place you are applying and find out what you need to do to be successful. As a department, we always welcome questions from applicants, and most other institutions are the same. Additionally, this is another opportunity for you to make a good impression on the program as an active, engaged and intelligent applicant.

3.  Research Programs! Make sure that you spend some time really looking at all of the different options out there. Think about what you want to do, and then find the best fit for you. A nationally recognized Sociology graduate program with a strong emphasis on gender issues might not be the best choice for someone who wants to work in medical sociology. Is it a quantitative or qualitative program? Do they emphasize applied or theoretical work? Do you want to finish a Ph.D., or are you only interested in a Masters right now? Do they offer financial support, or will you have to pay for it all out of pocket?
Figure out what you want out of a program and then do the research to find the best ones for you. You’ve just spent years learning how to do research – put those skills to work for you!

4.  Talk to your professors! What are their recommendations? Where did they go to school and why? What programs do they think are good? Do they think you need an advanced degree to do the work you want to do?

Our faculty are a great resource and they enjoy mentoring students. Make an appointment or go to their office hours. If you haven’t talked to professors outside of class, you may be surprised by how easy it is to talk to them.

5.  Keep track of deadlines! These are so important. Make sure you know when each application is due, and then meet those deadlines. If you are applying anywhere that requires a test score, like the GREs, make sure you know what the dates of that test are and how quickly your score will be available. If you want to take a prep class for the GREs or another test, count backwards from the test date to give yourself enough time.

6.  Proof-read everything! It’s important to make a good impression from the outset. Typos and misspelled words makes it look as though the applicant is sloppy and doesn’t really care whether or not they are accepted to the program. If you’re not the best proof-reader of your own work, ask someone else (even multiple someones!) to read through it for you. This includes making sure you haven’t skipped a section. We’ve had students not turn over a double-sided page and miss a whole section of the application – make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

Some of the best programs receive hundreds of applications for a few openings; you don’t want to give them a reason to toss your application into the deny pile.

7.  Every contact counts! Emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, facebook posts, etc. – if they are with the program to which you’re applying, they all count. Be polite and courteous. If you receive an email asking for further clarification or telling you something is missing, respond right away, even if it’s just to say that you have to look into it and will get back to them later. Treat emails like real letters; don’t just respond with a “Yes” or smiley face. Include a greeting and a closing. Remember that you’re not corresponding with a buddy, you’re interacting with people who will be part of deciding whether or not you are accepted into their program.

8.  References are important! The vast majority of programs (including ours) prefer academic or professional references. If you’re applying to a graduate program, the definite preference is for academic references unless there’s an explicitly stated clinical/applied part of the program. If you can’t think of three professors who would give you a good reference, start looking! Speak up in class, talk to faculty outside of class, go to office hours.

9.  Use your Personal Statement wisely! Your Personal Statement (sometimes called Statement of Intent) is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and convince them that you would be a great addition to their program. If there is any part of your application that may be a little weak, address that weakness and explain how you will improve. Tell them why you like their program and why you would be an asset to them. Talk about your aspirations and what you hope to do while in their program and your plans for what you will do with the degree they offer.  This is also your chance to show off that you can write well.

10.  Be sure to follow up! Let’s say you’ve followed all of these suggestions and have been accepted into graduate school. Time to celebrate, right? Of course! However, please do remember that if you are completing your undergraduate degree, most graduate programs require that you submit an official transcript once your degree has been posted. Also, most schools want you to finish setting up your email with them and start checking it regularly. There may be housing questions and financial aid issues that need to be addressed, and you’ll most likely need to sign up for classes and maybe even meet with an advisor. So, follow up on everything to make sure you’re completely prepared once you arrive on campus.

On the other hand, let’s suppose that you didn’t get into the school you really wanted and you want to apply again next year. Follow up, then, too! See if you can talk to anyone at their program about your application. You may find out that they just needed to see coursework in a specific area, or that your personal statement wasn’t as strong as they wanted. Maybe it’s an applied program and they really want their students to have worked in the field for a couple of years before applying to graduate school. Whatever the reason(s), if it’s something you can fix or a weakness you can strengthen over the next year or so, you’ll have something to work on and you may get into the program next year.

That’s it for now. Keep an eye on the blog over the next little while – we’ll be taking deeper dives into the Personal Statement, References, finding Funding, and looking at all of this from a student’s perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday.