Where are they now?

Anthropology graduates:

Cait Handlin

Caitlin Handlin

BA, Anthropology (2020)

My experience as an Anthropology student at West Chester opened a world full of opportunities for me, and exceeded all expectations I had. I was able to combine my interest in the visual arts with my interest in Latin American studies to create my own path in the discipline. My professors supported me in all initiatives which included going abroad 3 times to conduct research; once in Colombia and twice in Peru. There were also several opportunities for my research to get published. Not only did this major provide the academics, but it exposed me to many different industries career wise. Currently, I am working as a Business Development and Public Affairs Manager for ACLAMO, a nonprofit organization that serves the Latino and Hispanic population in education, health & wellness, and social services in Montgomery and Chester County. I'm looking to advance my career in this industry, as well as explore careers in international affairs or museum studies, all of which was made possible because of my experience as an Anthropology major.

Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Susan Bachor (2010)
Interim Tribal Preervation Officer, Delaware Tribe of Indians

Jennifer Falchetta (2007)
Field Director, A.D. Marble

Tarah Leeland (2008)
Archaeologist, Kautz Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Kristen LaPorte (2019)
Lab Technician, AECOM Engineering (a Fortune 500 Company)

Rachael Marks (2017)
Crew Chief, Cultural Resources Analysts, Inc.

Mark Morris (2015)
Archaeologist, Cardno Inc.

Tyler Nance (2015)
Archaeology Crew Chief, E2 Project Management

Cydney Rader (2018)
Field Technician, Richard Grubb and Associates, Inc

Sean Ream (2003)
Principle Archaeologist, New Jersey Department of Transportation

Jacob Sullivan (2020)
Archaeology Field Technician, Dutton + Associates, Richmond, VA

ArMuseums and Archives

ArchaeHelen Bilinski (2013)
Exhibits Manager, Delaware Museum of Natural History

Alexandria Chisholm (2009)
Reference and Instruction Librarian, Alvernia University

Colin Kuhn (2018)
Guest Services, Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle

Lisa Moulder (2000)
Director, Betsy Ross House

Sara Regensburger (2015)
Lead Collections Asst/Museum Educator, Institute for American Indian Studies

Sarah Sutton (2015)
Manager of Educational Programming, Everhart Museum

Data Analytics

Wendi Bullis (2017)
Cybersecurity Developer, Auspex Labs, Inc.

Colin Callaghan (2010)
Lead Analytics Strategist, SEI Financial Services

Brianna Crellin (2017)
Data Analyst, MedPro Systems

Caleb Fritz (2012)
Crime Analyst, NYPD

Tyler LaMantia (2015)
Location Analyst, Ahold Delhaize

Jamie Reece (2009)
Policy Analyst, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

Consulting and Market Research

Caitlyn Seaman (2017)
UX Research and Digital Marketing Analyst, Traffic Builders Digital Marketing

Julia Czaja (2007)
UX Researcher, Google

Doug Reeser, Ph.D. (2005)

Rachael Sirdashney (2017)
Product Specialist, Fiserv


Kelly Crodian (2014)
Program Compliance Associate, Women Against Abuse, Inc

Mohammed Kaba (2015)
Founder and Director, Cleopatra Broh Foundation

Deryn Fink (2017)
Programming and Training, No Means No Worldwide

Jill Greene (2009)
County Resilience Coordinator, Common Cause

Caitlyn Handlin (2020)
Public Affairs Manager, Aclamo

Chris Thornton (2013)
Director of Outreach, Beyond the Bars, Inc.

Luigi Zeccardo (2011)
Legal Eligibility Specialist, Peace Corps


Sarah Alderman (2014)
Owner, AGP Collective LLC

Alexandria Proko
Owner, Alexandria Catherine Events

Antonella Gamba (2006)
Owner, dolce Zola

Dawn Manning (2009)
Poet and author

Public Health/Healthcare Management

Sydney Citara Manis (2013)
Case Manager, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Jensine Conner (2019)
Project Support Associate, Signant Health

Katie Frame (2009)
Hospital Social Worker, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals

Annie Koempel (2011)
Program Manager, Superfund Research Program

Jared Kozlowski (2010)
Global Manager, TMG Health Services

Helena Lippay (2020)
Laboratory Assistant, NMS Labs

Madeline Munitz (2009
Social Worker, Seward Park School Community Health Center

Hannah Novy-Russell (2010)
Customer Operations Supervisor, PMD Healthcare

Matthew Ruggieri (2012)
Client Services, BAYADA Home Health Care

Caitlin Trucksess (2008)
Senior Research Assistant, Centers for American Indian & Alaskan Native Health

Erin Walker (2013)
Dispatcher, ABBA Medical Transportation, LLC


Aubrey DiDonato (2011)

Teacher and Administrator, Alpine Arts Center

Alexa Knoll (2014)

Kindergarten Teacher, Waldorf School

Cortney Todd (2010)
Special Education Liaison, School District of Philadelphia

Peace Corps

Deryn Fink (2017), Gambia

Hannah Novy-Wikowski (2010), Botswana

Luigi Zeccardo (2010), Fiji

Sociology graduates:

Sabrina Leggett

Sabrina Leggett

BA in Sociology, Class of 2013. MA, Urban Education/Special Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2016.

Current Profession: Academy Leader (similar to Assistant Principal)

My name is Sabrina Leggett. Currently I am an educator at a Philadelphia charter school. However, I didn't truly understand how my degree could help me in the education field. After diving into my career and fighting against all the inequities that black and brown children face throughout their schooling; and realizing how their school experiences affect them personally, I realized how much my time at West Chester and the knowledge I gained there from the amazing staff truly equipped me to be an educator. My experience as a teacher and school leader has shown me how much we have to look at how our society affects the institutions we work in, how power and equity (or lack thereof) play a role in the experiences we have and how important it is for us to not only understand these things, but work to dismantle them so that we can seek liberation for all. The amazing professors in the Sociology (and Women's and Gender Studies) departments, like Dr. Zalewski, Dr. Huebner and Dr. Sholock truly helped me to understand how all aspects of our identity show up in society, are affected by our relationships with others and the institutions that are put in place. This knowledge has helped me tremendously in understanding how to be an abolitionist educator.

The knowledge that I have gained will last me a lifetime and undoubtedly continue to help me as I grow in this field and any others that I venture to. My time at West Chester, including reinstating the Alpha Kappa Delta honor society and working at the Women's Center, helped me to grow personally as well as academically. I appreciate this chance not just to share in what I was able to learn and apply in my career field, but also the opportunity to say thank you to all those staff members that played a role in my academic and personal growth.

Syria Aaron

Syria Aaron

BA Sociology, Class of 2021

Current Profession: Sex Trafficking, Sex Worker Advocate

As a single mother of two young boys, obtaining my sociology degree was not an easy task. It took longer than expected but it was well worth it in the end. Before obtaining my degree, I worked as a residential aide for a Salvation Army transitional shelter for survivors of sex trafficking. How did I get there? I always knew that I wanted to assist survivors of sex trafficking, but the huge question was where?  I found out about the New Day program in Kensington Philadelphia through research for an individualized study on the sociology of sex trafficking with WCU advisor Dr. Jackie Zalewski. I informed my advisor that I wanted to volunteer there for my senior capstone course, and we made it happen. I volunteered at the Women’s Drop-in Center in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, and there I learned about the transitional shelter. Obtaining my sociology degree allowed me to become a Victim Advocate for survivors of sex trafficking and sex workers at the PAD (Police Assisted Diversion) program. Earning my sociology degree allowed me the freedom to research sex trafficking in Philadelphia and obtain gainful employment assisting victims and survivors of sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and sex work. 

Gianna Puliti

Gianna Puliti

BA Sociology, Class of 2019

Current profession: MSW, LSW

Having the opportunity to obtain my B.A. in Sociology from WCU in 2019 has truly made all of the difference in regard to my professional and personal growth. As I look back, I recognize that my rationale for pursuing, and obtaining, my Master's degree and licensure in Social Work has stemmed from my love of Sociology. Although the fields of Social Work and Sociology differ, I have found that they are similar in the sense that they both seek to understand human interaction and combat social injustice. Through pursuing a Sociology degree, I have been able to obtain knowledge on understanding how and why different groups of people have come to their current state, which has greatly helped me in learning of the ways in which I can directly help different members of society change, manage, and overcome the state that they are in. Studying Sociology laid a theoretical foundation for understanding social behavior which has been a beneficial tool in aiding to my success within the field of Social Work. Although, to say that studying Sociology is simply just learning social theories would be inaccurate. Studying sociology has also allowed myself to gain skills that are beneficial and valuable within all areas of professional life, such as: conducting research, understanding data and analytics, having an increased capacity for self-awareness, critical thinking, writing, and communication-to name a few.

Lastly, obtaining my Sociology degree at WCU allowed myself to be a part of a community that made me feel welcomed, inspired, and heard. I often think back to Dr. Z's classroom, the mentorship she provided, and the learning environment in which she, and other Sociology professor's at WCU created, which was crucial to my development of becoming a confident student, and now a confident professional. Sociology is a versatile degree that opens doors to diverse opportunities and experiences, and I am forever grateful to the field, the program, and my mentors.

Alison Bab

Allison Babb

BA Sociology, Class of 2019

Current Profession: Clinical Research Coordinator

Going into my freshman year of college I was actually an undeclared major. I had no idea what I wanted my career to be but knew ultimately that I wanted to help people in any way that I can. I was put in the Intro to Sociology class my first semester at WCU and instantly fell in love with Sociology! My favorite class I took at WCU was a sociological theories class that really opened my eyes to the world and the way things are and how the past really molded people and how everything in some way can be tied to sociology. I knew this was the major for me!

Following my graduation I fell into the field of social work specifically working with individuals in the IDD field (intellectual and developmental disabilities). I eventually found myself working in the medical field as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania. As a Clinical Research Coordinator I follow subjects who are in various clinical trials (specifically Multiple Sclerosis) during the duration of their time in the studies. We do observational and drug trial studies and I work directly with the IRB, physicians, and the subjects in the trials to ensure they run smoothly and the subjects are taken care of. With this career I am able to use a lot of the information I learned in my research class, sociology of aging, and sociology of medicine class which I am thankful WCU was able to give me. 

I am thankful for all of the time I spent at WCU and the professors that helped me along the way to guide my into the career I have now!

Camille LEHR

Camille Lehr

BA Sociology, Class of 2019

Current Profession:  Authorizations and Case Development Support Specialist, Medical Equipment Company

After taking a social problems class at Delaware County Community College I knew that sociology was my passion, so after I graduated and transferred to WCU I found a home in the sociology department. Learning theories and how they apply to the past, present, and future really opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective. I was able to apply so much of what I was learning to my other classes at WCU as well as in real life. There are so many options and open doors when you have a degree in sociology. I know my passion and purpose is to help people, and while I'm still trying to figure out where that means my career will take me, I have spent the last couple of years working for a durable medical equipment company. Our company helps those who are suffering with lymphedema either from genetics, or cancer treatment when the lymph nodes are removed. Part of my job is speaking to patients and gathering medical background information. Patients are from all over the country and can be of any age. A lot of the time patients feel comfortable sharing their whole story with you, and I feel my education in sociology has given me the tools to allow me to better understand and connect with people on a deeper level. My assistance with Dr. Zalewski in her Sociology of Work and Organizations’ classes has also given me a better understanding and knowledge of the evolution and inner workings of today’s workplace environment. I'm thankful for my time at WCU and the faculty, especially Dr. Zalewski, that helped along the way.

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 Josh Siebenaler

BA Sociology, Class of 2019

Current Profession: Market Research Analyst

The value of my B.A. in Sociology from West Chester University is something that I will cherish for my entire life. I graduated from West Chester University in May of 2019. Since then, I have spent my time working as a market research analyst for a small firm outside of Philadelphia. I know that my degree in Sociology has prepared me for this new phase in my career.

If you find yourself reading this, I am sure that you already know how diverse and intriguing the field of Sociology is. I would like to take a moment to tell you how I was able to take my specific interests in Sociology and apply them to my future career. After all, there are so many directions that this field can take you and every option is worth being explored. I was first exposed to Sociology in the second semester of my Sophomore year at West Chester University, this was an intro class that completely captured my interest. I had not experienced a course that challenged me to use critical thinking to come to abstract conclusions on concepts and theories that I had never been exposed to before. This interest consumed me and within a few weeks of beginning this course I applied to transfer to the Sociology department.

In the beginning of my Junior year I started taking the Sociology core classes. It was at this time that I was first exposed to an applied statistics course in the field of behavioral science. I was very excited to begin using statistics to analyze and predict behavior. It was in this course that I had my first introduction to IBM's SPSS, a program that I now use extensively on a daily basis. I knew that this was an aspect of Sociology that I wanted to pursue after graduation.

I continued to follow the core curriculum and took many incredible courses within the department that tested my understanding of the world and challenged me to critically think about concepts that I may otherwise have seen at face value. I now apply the thought process that I learned through my education to my professional and personal life and I believe that I am better off because of it. 

I would strongly advise anyone with an interest in Sociology to pursue it. There are so many doors that this department opens and I owe much of my professional development to the University and faculty for providing me with these opportunities.

Sade Kelly

Sadé Kelly

BA Sociology and Ethnic Studies and Spanish Minor (2012)

Current Profession: VP of Talent, Talent Manager, Writer

When I finally decided on my major, I didn't have my career planned out at all. I just knew that I wanted to find fulfillment on a path that would allow me to tell my own story and to encourage others to tell theirs in a creative way. So, sociology found me. With that, I was able to combine my interests in both race and society, which has had a major influence throughout my career. 

During my last semester, I took the internship course with Dr. Zalewski and am so glad I did. She gave me more autonomy as to what I wanted to gain and how I wanted to structure the course so I chose to intern with the probation office at the Chester County Courthouse. During my meetings with offenders, I was able to use what I learned from my studies to take a more empathetic/humanistic approach so that offenders were connected with the resources they needed to graduate from their own treatment programs.  

After graduation, I drove cross country to move to LA to start a ridiculously interesting HR career before ultimately ending up where I am now in the entertainment industry. Having a strong understanding of human behavior is such an invaluable insight in that we ultimately become the game changers in any path we chose. I am forever grateful for my sociology degree and the professors in the WCU Sociology Department who always encouraged me to have a voice and to aim higher.  

Emeka Nwosu

Emeka Nwosu

BA Sociology 2014

Current Profession: Business Intelligence Analyst

 I spent four years at WCU Undecided before I reached out to Dr. Zalewski about becoming a Sociology Major. I was overthinking my career path until she simplified it to one question, “What is your favorite course?”. Most of the courses I had taken were either in Math or Sociology, so I said Statistics was my favorite course. I love learning about people and the world on a macro level, but I also think very analytically. She then introduced me to Dr. Ceballos, who has a strong background in Data Analysis/Statistics and could get me on the right track.

My fifth and final year was spent doing independent studies with Dr. Ceballos. We did Data Analytics, conducting various surveys and analyzing datasets during the fall semester. Then I studied Applied Statistics, focussing on Regression during the spring semester. This independent study laid the groundwork that led to me getting my Master’s in Data Analytics from Boston University. Now seven years later, I’m still utilizing the techniques I learned while working with Dr. Ceballos.

I am currently a Business Intelligence Analyst at IGN Entertainment. I went from analyzing 50-row data sets to analyzing million-row data sets. I went from manually entering data and making basic plots in SPSS to pulling data from APIs and creating interactive dashboards in R. I utilize the Regression techniques I learned during that spring semester in forecasting my models. I still get to study my favorite subject, people, when I group our user base into various audience segments and analyze their behaviors.

Everyone has their own career path. Going from years of being undecided to Sociology to Data Analytics to the video game industry is a path I didn’t see coming. The Sociology department at WCU equipped me with the foundation and a unique perspective I needed to succeed both in grad school and my career.

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Hailey Gerena

BA Sociology (2019)

Current Profession: Career Counselor at MaturityWorks

After transferring to WCU from DCCC, I found my home in the Sociology Department. Knowing only that I wanted to make a difference in the world after graduation, I figured studying sociology would give me an understanding of what issues our society is experiencing and how to address them. The professors throughout the Sociology Department instructed with enthusiasm so contagious, I would leave class wishing our classroom conversations could last forever. I love how Sociology not only allows, but encourages, different perspectives. 

After graduation, I became a Career Counselor for a Senior Community Service Employment Program, where I help low-income seniors (55+) re-enter the workforce. Because of my Sociology degree, I have a better understanding of some of the barriers my participants experience. Throughout my studies, I learned about racism, sexism, ageism, income inequality, and incarceration, which are just a handful of the barriers my clients have to overcome. Studying Sociology allowed me to understand their perspectives and unique challenges and how to best advocate for them. 

Learning of the disparities in our society, you cannot help but be moved to action. Without getting my degree at WCU, I would not have an understanding of the importance of advocacy and networking. Professionally, I have a full-time career helping older folks return to work, but outside of that, I also serve as a Co-Chair of the Change & Advocacy Committee for Making a Change Group, sit on a county-wide Reentry Coalition, participate in a Police Accountability Coalition, help organize many community events and protests, and run a Facebook page that shares county resources. My time at WCU studying Sociology allowed me to reflect on my own personal mission to improve my community and armed me with the knowledge of how to do so.

Nicole Petry Roach

Nicole Petry Roach

BA Sociology and BA Women's and Gender Studies w/ Ethnic Studies MINOR  - 2013. 

Sociology Club-President, AKD

Current Career Role: Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator

Believing teaching tomorrow's leaders would fulfill my goal of contributing to a better society, I entered WCU as an Education Major. My first Sociology class and my first Women's and Gender Studies class were during the same semester and learning about the world from a new perspective was incredibly eye-opening. Studying sociology enhanced my engagement and eagerness to learn everything I could about our society. I spent much of my time at WCU learning about marginalized groups and how to support and advocate for them. I also learned the importance of being a good ally.  

I am beyond grateful for the incredible opportunities being a member of the Sociology Club (and a WCU Sociology Major) afforded me. My social networking and public speaking skills grew significantly as a result of my time in the Sociology department and they have served me well in my career. 

Finally, as a result of years of volunteering and networking, I recently landed my dream job!! I'm now a Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for one of the largest growing banks in the US. I am eager to see where this next chapter takes me and I look forward to putting these skills to use. 

Kyle Pelchy

Kyle Pelchy

BA, Sociology (2014); BA, Political Science (International Relations (2014)

Current profession: Purchasing Manager @ Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH)

It's hard to believe when I first came to West Chester in 2010, I started off as a Psychology Major. It was during my first ever Sociology Class in Fall 2010, that I realized I was more interested in the macro approach of human behavior from a cultural and society point of view. During my second semester, I met with the Sociology Department chair and was very interested in the different Sociology classes offered at WCU! By Sophomore year, I had found many intersections between Sociology, Political Science, and International Relations, and knew I wanted to bring them all together for a multidisciplinary approach at society around the world and how this has been shaped by our political systems. I decided to move forward as a dual major in Sociology and Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations. Both departments were very supportive of this link.

My first step into making these links, myself, was taking the opportunity to study abroad during my Junior Year in Nicosia, Cyprus - the last divided capital on Earth. Studying abroad through WCU was easy and beneficial, with the university offering many transfer credits to keep us on track. My time abroad also proved invaluable to opening my eyes to society, culture, and politics on an international level, and also led me to later complete a Master of Science in International Development and Security abroad in Bristol, UK.

During my time at WCU, I was involved with both the Sociology Club (Treasurer) and Alpha Kappa Delta International Honor Society of Sociology (President), which brought great opportunities into conferences, networking, and amazing friendships with our classmates. I still talk to a few of my classmates from the groups, 6 years later! I was also able to be involved with the Political Science department, as well as the Music Department. The opportunities were endless and pushing the boundaries was always supported.

Heather Welsh

Heather Welsh

AKD, WCU Sociology Club-President, BA Sociology, CLass of 2016

Current Profession: PA Dept of Human Services, Caseworker-County Assistance Office

Obtaining a Sociology Degree was not only personally rewarding but has been extremely valuable in my current career path. As a retuning non-traditional student, I chose sociology because it was well suited to my already established ways of thinking. Although life experience helped me immensely on my educational path, I learned more than I ever imagined about society and my own self.

Facing each day with a broader understanding of the struggles and difficulties that the social world can place on individuals, especially those from marginalized populations, helps me to be a better person overall. In my job I deal with many of the most vulnerable citizens in our state and this ability to view their situation with the understanding gained through the sociological perspective gives me a greater level of empathy towards their realities. Even if Sociology is not on your radar as a major or minor, I feel everyone can benefit from taking a course in the department.

When I left WCU, I had no intention of my current path being the one life found me on, however there are many advantages to a career in civil service. It is a very different experience than any job I have ever had. Sociology not only opened the door to employment in this sector, but my classes studying the Sociology of Work and Organizations gave me a better knowledge of the way bureaucratic systems operate.

I am grateful I chose Sociology as my major. It truly changed my life!

Tyler Rutherford

Tyler Rutherford

AKD Treasurer, BA Sociology, Class of 2018

Current profession: Marketing Director, The Life Financial Group

A sociology degree is more than just a degree. It’s knowing people on a truly deeper level. My time in the SOC department at WCU has been extremely valuable to me in 3 specific ways.

A sociological perspective is more valuable now than ever because it has trained me to be literate with media and online consumption, discerning facts from opinions.

A sociological understanding has given me the ability to understand the people around me on a much deeper level, allowing for understanding and empathy.

Lastly, my sociology degree has been very valuable in my career field. Good marketing is really just having a good understanding of those you are trying to reach. Going through demographical studies, online studies, and research in college helped me prepare for what i would be doing in the real world.

Sociology can be applicable in any field. I encourage everyone to take at least 1 course in this discipline.

Melissa Mitchell

Melisa Mitchell

BA, Sociology (2015); MSW (2018)

I began my academic journey in sociology as a transfer student at West Chester University in the Fall 2012 semester. During this time, I switched my major from biology to sociology and overcame personal adversity. While this was a major shift in studies and goals that I paved for myself, this change was indeed an impactful and positive one. It has shaped my aspirations and career to what it has blossomed into today. When I started my sociology track at WCU, I was uncertain of the career path that I would take but knew that I wanted to help people and combine my passions of animals, the environment, and social service. Dr. Zalewski, who was my academic advisor, professor and mentor, helped guide me and ensured that I had a well-rounded background. I took different electives and major courses including Sociological Theory, Perspectives on Mental Illness, Sociology of Aging, Sociology of the Family, and Research Methods that taught me key theories and concepts of sociology, social dynamics, and trends that shape and explain the social structures, social injustices, and problems that we are seeing today. By taking these courses, I also gained increased cultural and social awareness, analytical and critical thinking skills, and writing and research skills that I believe are crucial for all areas of employment. I also minored in geography and urban planning to learn about GIS systems used to collect and analyze geographic and other data for research, as well as to gain additional perspectives on environmental and social challenges that plague society. During my undergraduate studies, I also took advantage of academic and extracurricular activities such as joining the Sociology Club and Multicultural Affairs Club, as well as volunteering at the Women’s Center, Friends Association for Care Homeless Shelter and Protection of Children, and the local animal shelter. These all helped me to form professional networks, apply my skills, and learn about the many areas in which sociology can be used for the greater good. These advantages ultimately led me to pursue graduate studies in Social Work upon graduation.

After receiving my B.A. in Sociology in May 2015, I attended WCU’s graduate program in Social Work at the Philadelphia campus, where I developed and strengthened my knowledge and skillsets in sociology and social work to work with diverse populations in an urban setting. In May 2018, I received my Master’s in Social Work. Since graduation, I have held multiple positions in the mental and behavioral health field as a Therapeutic Support Staff, Direct Support Professional, Advocate, Mental Health Outpatient Therapist, and Supports Coordinator, providing case management, advocacy, and counseling to children, individuals, and families. In these roles, I have implemented the knowledge and skills that I learned from both degree programs to facilitate and provide individual and group therapy, participated in interdisciplinary team meetings to solve and address social disparities and problems, responded to crises, developed and utilized evidence-based treatment and service plans, and accessed community resources to improve the quality of life for the people that I help every day. In November 2019, I took the Association of Social Work licensing board exam and received my LSW to practice social work in PA. I am currently working toward obtaining my clinical social work license and receiving continued learning across different disciplines so that one day I can open my own private practice, providing counseling services to individuals and families and serving as a mentor to the next generation of students. Looking back on my journey, I am grateful for my sociology degree, as it served as a catalyst for my success and made me the person that I am now. I hope my experiences aid another sociology student in knowing the value of their degree and the path(s) that it can take them.

Sarah Millai deBarardinis

Sarah Millai deBerardinis

BA, Sociology (2016); M.Ed., Special Education (2019)

I graduated from WCU with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in May 2016. One thing I found valuable in a sociology degree is that its study involves a path that leads to a diverse range of career opportunities.  During one semester, I took a class called “Perspectives on Mental Illness” with Dr. Leveille. The class was significant to my career, as it was the first time I was exposed to the topic of special education and an array of theoretical frameworks. At that time, I had no idea that the scientific research methods I was learning about in class would one day be approaches that I currently implement in my clinical work as an ABA/Behavioral Therapist and soon-to-be Licensed Behavior Specialist.  

During my last semester at WCU, I used the university’s career management system to find a part-time job. These job searches led me to getting hired by a company that provides educational and behavioral health services called CCRES. Upon getting hired as a personal care assistant, I was assigned to my first elementary school working in an autistic support classroom. Throughout my time there, I fell in love with working in a school atmosphere and helping students who need it the most. After about a year and a half, I was referred to a company called Gamut Early Intervention Services, which is where I still work today. While transitioning from a personal care assistant to an ABA/Behavioral Therapist, I was being trained by well-experienced board-certified behavior analysts on how to actually implement a scientific approach that I first heard about in my sociology class: what is referred to as applied behavior analysis. As a Behavioral Therapist, I use principles of applied behavior analysis to provide direct implementation of behavior analytic services, gather quantifiable data, provide crisis support/de-escalation procedures, graph and analyze data trends, and implement behavioral interventions based on evidence-based practices. Although the work can be challenging, it also is extremely rewarding, as I have had the opportunity to work with a range of students with exceptionalities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, Intellectual Disability, Fragile X, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and Emotional Disturbance.

In December 2019, I graduated with my Master’s in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from California University of Pennsylvania. In April 2020, I applied through the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine to obtain my credential as a Licensed Behavior Specialist.  In addition, I’m currently finishing up my independent supervised fieldwork through Gamut so that I can qualify to sit for the certification exam to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. If it were not for obtaining my sociology degree at West Chester University, I would not be where I am today. The professors in the WCU Sociology Department were always supportive and encouraged me to further my education. Specifically, Dr. Zalewski was one of the first people to ever tell me that I should go to graduate school, which at the time I thought was an out-of-reach goal. Now I’m proud to be sitting here as a recent graduate with a master’s degree. I initially chose sociology as my major because I was fascinated by learning about the complexity of human behavior. Since then, it has served as the foundation for where I am in my profession today, and for that I’m forever grateful for my degree in sociology. 

Molly Wark

Molly Wark

BA, Sociology (2012); MSW (2015)

I obtained my B.A. in Sociology from WCU in 2012 and my Master of Social Work in 2015. Not only was my coursework in sociology influential to the pursuit of my career in social work, but the theories and concepts I studied in the program gave me an incredible advantage as I navigated my graduate studies and have influenced the way I practice social work. I currently work as a Medical Social Worker at Chester County Hospital, and I moonlight as a Crisis Intervention Specialist for Main Line Health.

At Chester County Hospital, I am currently assigned to a COVID 19 unit, and my job is to work with patients and families to develop safe discharge plans from the hospital. It has been extremely rewarding to work within a multidisciplinary healthcare team to battle this pandemic on the front lines. When our first COVID 19 patient was successfully weaned off the ventilator after 12 days, I was responsible for coordinating her continued care so that her medical needs could be safely managed at home. Another example relates to an elderly couple who we recently discharged after being treated for complications related to COVID 19. Initially, they were going to have to be placed in different nursing facilities because the husband suffers from dementia. I appreciated the stress a separation would have caused this couple, who have been married over 50 years, just as they were recovering from serious illness. After many conversations and phone calls, I was ultimately able to arrange their placement in, not only the same facility, but in the same room. Their family was so grateful, and this gave me a real sense of satisfaction. These are just a couple of the many examples of how my job as a social worker has allowed me to make a positive impact on the lives of others in both big and small ways.

Karissa Stiglic

Karissa Stiglic

BA, Sociology (2012)
When I first selected my major, I wasn't entirely sure what my career path would look like. I didn't have a "dream job" in mind, but I knew that I connected with the study of Sociology and assumed that the rest would work itself out. It wasn't until I started interviewing for jobs that I truly realized how valuable my Sociology degree would be in the workplace.
I graduated from West Chester University in the fall of 2012 and was fortunate enough to get a job right out of college with Finance of America Mortgage (Gateway Funding at the time).

Being in the marketing department, I quickly had to learn what a mortgage was, why obtaining homeownership was truly important, and how to get that message to our audience.
Homeownership is one of the fastest ways to build wealth, and for some, it seems impossible. Outside of the lack of education presented around purchasing a home and positive debt, thanks to the knowledge I obtained in my Sociology classes, I was able to understand some of the other reasons that impact the decision to purchase a home. I think a Sociology degree changes how you look at the world. What some see as purchasing a home, I see as a step towards changing the entire structure of a community. And it all starts with the messaging that we created in the marketing department.

Recently, I moved to the digital team at Finance of America Mortgage where I am helping build out various technologies to make the customer experience more holistic and accessible. Daily, I take the knowledge that Dr. Jackie (Zalewski) and the rest of the Sociology department shared with me during my time at West Chester and use it to find solutions to help provide resources to those who see homeownership as unobtainable and guide them through laying the foundation for financial freedom.

Understanding Sociology benefits every single industry, and I'm grateful to have been given the knowledge to better local communities through the financial sector.

Harvey Nicholson

Harvey Nicholson

BA, Sociology (2014)
I am currently an assistant professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law. I majored in Sociology as a student at West Chester University and, afterward, entered graduate school to pursue my M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology. As a professor, I conduct research and teach courses on racial and ethnic health disparities, substance use problems, and racial and ethnic relations in American society. I strongly believe majoring in Sociology at West Chester University helped generate the knowledge and the skills necessary to excel in graduate school, especially due to the excellent faculty and the diversity of interesting courses offered by the Sociology program. To me, Sociology has opened my eyes to the many challenges facing society. But, more importantly, it has given me the tools to work towards eliminating social inequality and injustice.

Sociology Alumni

Steve Falance

BA, Sociology (2018)
I currently work as a Legal Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Benefits Administration, while also transitioning into a Supply Management Specialist position for the U.S. Department of the Army. I firmly believe that the value in obtaining a degree in sociology can make oneself a marketable asset in a competitive job market. The sociology program at West Chester University allowed me to be pushed outside of my comfort zone and become exposed to concepts that have broadened my perception of how society and the world operate. The knowledge that comes from studying sociology can set you up for success regardless of what career field you end up pursuing.

Sociology Alumni

Margo Maas

BA, Sociology (2017)
I am the Assistant Director of Student Philanthropy at the WCU Foundation. This is a new role for me, but I will continue to work with the Golden Rams Society to cultivate a culture of philanthropy across WCU. I also work with the processing of annual appeals for our nonprofit fundraising for WCU. This degree helped me to get where I am because it put me in places with people who were doing things in the world I wanted to do, taught me a whole new level of balance as a nontraditional student, and it polished important skills such as professionalism and responsibility, as well as sparked my creativity and gave me a new direction to serve my passions in life. I’m grateful to WCU and all the professors who worked with me in order to achieve my BA in sociology!

Sociology Alumni

Nancy Reeves

BA, Sociology (1989)
I graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with a minor in psychology. Most of my undergraduate sociology courses were taught by Dr. Leigh Shaffer, a wonderful professor who instilled within me a love for sociological concepts and theories. Upon graduation, I found a job working in the customer service field. My background in both the sociological and psychological fields quickly proved invaluable, as I was promoted to supervisor within a short time period. In 1992, in addition to working full time, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in urban sociology at Temple University because I wanted to add to my sociological background with a degree in other academic areas. After I had my first child, I left the workforce for approximately nine months. When I reentered the workforce, I decided to make a change in my career path upon the suggestion of my late husband. Thus, in September 2002 my teaching career began in the field of sociology. Since that time, I have taught a variety of sociology courses at many different universities and colleges, including Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, Sociology of the Family, and my personal favorite: Social Deviance. I learned a great deal about sociological theories, concepts, and ideas during my time earning a Bachelor’s degree in sociology at West Chester University. My love for the field of sociology is rooted in the valuable information I attained in the many classes I attended during the period of 1987-1989. The most significant impact my degree in sociology has had in my life cannot be found within the classroom, however. Rather, it is the fostering of critical-thinking skills that has allowed me to be successful in working toward my Doctoral degree in post-secondary education. A Bachelor’s degree in sociology is the start to so many future possibilities, both academically and professionally. I am so thankful that this degree has helped my life in innumerable ways.

Sociology Alumni

Steven B. Bobo

BA, Sociology (2014)
Hello, West Chester University students! I take great pleasure in writing this paragraph about the Sociology Department and all that it has done for me. Sociology taught me one of the most important things that I needed to know: how to understand the effects of culture on the ways people respond to all types of events and changes. When I started at West Chester University, my goal was to become a drug counselor, but, like many of you, my career path changed. My time at WCU was all about doing the work and achieving something that I've never done before in my life: earning my bachelor's degree. This was a large task for a 40-plus-year-old black man with a wife and five kids, attending school full time while working three jobs. I still graduated on time – and with honors! Now I'm a Therapeutic Support Specialist for NHS Human Services. I was hired six months after graduating from WCU, and I currently work with people of different cultures and religions to help them improve their behavior and make better life choices. I received the knowledge to do this from the best university on the planet: West Chester University is truly second to none!

Molly (Bryne) Austin

Molly (Byrne) Austin

BA, Sociology (2014); M.Ed. in School Counseling (2016)

When I started at West Chester University in 2010, I knew I wanted to go into a helping profession, but I wasn’t sure specifically what career path I wanted to pursue. I chose to major in Sociology because I knew West Chester’s program would provide me with a well-rounded education that could open many doors for me. About halfway through my undergraduate career, I decided I wanted to work as a School Counselor. I was so thankful that along with my Sociology classes, I had the flexibility to take classes in Psychology and Education. This provided me with the perfect mix of classes so I was able to study social structures, individual behaviors, research methods, the brain, childhood development, and the school system all at once! I also was provided opportunities for hands-on learning by assisting Dr. Zalewski with her research projects, and Dr. Zalewski helped me while I conducted my own research. The opportunity to work closely with a Sociology professor really strengthened my research, communication, and critical-thinking skills. I graduated with my Bachelor's in Sociology in May 2014, and that same month I began my Master's of Education in K-12 School Counseling at WCU. I graduated from the school counseling program in May 2016, and I’ve been working as a high school counselor since then. I am currently in my fourth school year as a school counselor, and I am utilizing what I learned in my Sociology program every day. In my profession, I am constantly being challenged to solve programs, think creatively and critically, and collect and analyze data. Sociology has taught me to ask the hard questions about why things are happening, and this has made me a more thorough and thoughtful counselor. I’m thankful for my Sociology degree and the ways it has shaped me as a person and a school counselor!

Sociology Alumni

Jessica Herling

BA, Sociology (2014); BA, Women's and Gender Studies (2014)
Jess recently earned her master's degree in sociology at Virginia Tech and is now working toward a Ph.D. in sociology with a concentration in women's and gender studies in the same department.She double-majored in sociology and women's and gender studies as an undergraduate at WCU, and she says that her experiences at West Chester have been invaluable in her graduate program. Presenting at conferences with the support of the Sociology Club, taking rigorous sociology and women's and gender studies classes, working on research projects with faculty, and having strong guidance from her mentors at WCU truly helped her on her journey to graduate school and adjustment to life as a graduate student.

Sociology Alumni

Zachary Kline

WCU Sociology Club - President, WCU Class of 2015

When my guidance counselor in high school suggested that I visit West Chester to check out their Sociology program, I had never heard of sociology. All I had was a vague idea of "society", a love of history, and a fascination with what I would later come to find out are called "social forces". From my first meeting with Dr. Zalewski and all of the faculty, I felt welcomed and intellectually challenged: I became hooked on Sociology. Sociology helped me make sense of my and my family's life and how all of our personal lives fit into the bigger picture of what I now understood to be society. Through internships at private companies and research with faculty, I also found the skills I developed as a sociologist incredibly useful! Outside of all of the skills I developed during the normal curriculum, here are a few of the amazing experiences that the Sociology department went out of their way to provide me with (there are plenty more unnamed experiences too): 1) I had the opportunity to take an independent study class where I met individually with Dr. Leveille every week to discuss a topic of my choice; 2)  I guest lectured in an introduction to sociology class on a topic I was interested in; 3) I received internship credit for my job where I was able to work as a manager and deploy my sociological skills; 4) I got to be a part of research projects! To name a few of the most memorable experiences, I helped Dr. Ceballos with quantitative program evaluation, Dr. Zalewski with interview transcription and literature review, and Dr. Wiest with a qualitative content analysis of movies; 5) I served as president of the Sociology club where I organized faculty research talk; 6) I was guided through my own qualitative and quantitative research that I conducted and presented at academic conferences. I benefited tremendously from the Sociology faculty's open-door policy and truly believe that every student at West Chester would benefit from a sociological experience. 

Today, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Connecticut. The research experience provided by West Chester has been instrumental in this pursuit, as those skills have helped me publish in peer-reviewed academic journals and find work on a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research grant. I now work for an international collaboration where we use tools from computational (computer-science) social science to understand the changing cultural meanings of etiquette over time. While my goal is to attain a tenure-track faculty position, I'll note that sociology has prepared me more careers than I initially realized (and more lucrative). I would feel confident entering the fields of quantitative data analysis, survey design, data management, report or grant writing, research assistant, or associate, and much more!  I love sociology because it allows me to follow my passions and become a better person while still developing skills that are useful in the job market and in real life.

Sociology Alumni

Amber Plank

BA, Sociology (2013)
I'm currently serving the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a Clinical Research Assistant within the division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. My time at West Chester University and my choice to pursue a degree in sociology have solely led me to the place I am today. In my academic coursework, I learned the value of diversity and how to communicate with diverse populations – a valuable skill when working with a team whose members have varying perspectives and even more valuable when collecting data on patients and families from an array of cultures and backgrounds. Throughout my time at West Chester, I learned how to use critical thinking to solve problems that arise in day-to-day activities. My studies in sociology, in particular, taught me that problems may be best tackled by getting to know the individuals around us and treating each one as a person with a story and a context, as opposed to just a number. Classes in research methods and statistics prepared me for this position and elevated my knowledge of research design and good clinical practices. I encourage each and every student to make the most of every class they encounter because even some concepts that might not sound very interesting at first will be extremely valuable in future careers and endeavors.

Sociology Alumni

Sarah Sanchez

BA, Sociology (2011)
Sarah is the foundress of UNRUCK YOURSELF and a contributing author of Midas Touch: The World's Leading Experts Reveal Their Top Secrets to Winning Big in Business & Life(2015, Expert Author Publishing). On way she chose to major in sociology, she said: "I chose sociology at WCU because I like to have the freedom of choice. With my degree, I have had the opportunity to not be stuck in one career path for the rest of my "working" life. I have been able to start my own company, pick and choose what charities my company supports, and contribute a chapter to an Amazon best-selling book. I can't describe the impact the sociology program at WCU has had on my life, but I will say this: To the students who love to think outside the box while studying your own communities, it's a must have a degree. The program builds a solid foundation for future free-thinkers, social workers, and community leaders alike."

Sociology Alumni

Joe Woodbridge

BA, Sociology (2014)
I received my BA in Sociology in December 2014 from West Chester University. Upon entering the undergraduate sociology program, I pursued this major because of personal interest after completing my associate’s degree in communication studies from Delaware County Community College. While in the sociology program, I learned about important social science topics including sociology of gender, statistics, deviance, and career internships. My first internship was at Adolescent Advocates in Bryn Mawr, PA, where I had the opportunity to work with adolescents struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. After that internship, I knew that I wanted to be involved in that field of work. Shout-out to Dr. Ceballos, Dr. Zalewski, and Dr. Wiest! I was also involved in the Sociology Club, where I got to serve as the Social Chair. We planned club activities and found ways to keep the membership interesting and available to students. My last semester, we got to travel to NYU for a workshop on Sociology in the Digital Age where we met college students from other countries.

After graduation, I was hired to work as a Clinical Aide at Mirmont Treatment Center in Media, PA. Mirmont Treatment Center is part of Main Line Health and serves as a residential substance abuse treatment facility. Shortly after beginning my career there, I made the decision to return to West Chester University to pursue higher education in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program. My experience from the sociology program really helped serve as a solid foundation for the course work I began in the MSW program, specifically learning about the person in the environment and community interventions. I graduated from the MSW program in May 2018 and am now working at the Mirmont Outpatient Center in Exton as a Drug & Alcohol Therapist. I primarily work with adolescents who struggle with substance use disorders. Soon I will be taking the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) exam and traveling to Atlanta, GA, for a professional training to become certified in Relapse Prevention Counseling (CRPS) under the Gorski model.

I plan to pursue the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential upon receiving the LSW certification. Dr. Zalewski and I have even spoken about creating an elective course and syllabus for undergraduate sociology students at WCU on the topic of substance use disorders! Who knows, I may even be talked into pursuing a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree someday. My experience at WCU’s undergraduate sociology program was wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking a unique education track with an interest in learning about others. Get involved, keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to seek assistance from the wonderful sociology professors at WCU!

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