Where are they now?
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.
Susan Bachor (2010)
Deputy Tribal Preservation 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)
Archaeologist, Cultural Resources Analysts, Inc.
Tyler Nance (2015)
Archaeology Crew Chief, E2 Project Management
Sean Ream (2003)
Principle Archaeologist, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Nathan Scully (2022)
Archaeology Technician, A.D. Marble and Assoc., King of Prussia, PA
Sarah Smith (2022)
Archaeology Technician, Cultural Heritage Research Services, Lansdale, PA
Jacob Sullivan (2020)
Archaeology Field Technician, Dutton + Associates, Richmond, VA
Helen Bilinski (2013)
Exhibits Manager, Delaware Museum of Natural History
Alexandria Chisholm (2009)
Reference and Instruction Librarian, Alvernia University
Development Coordinator, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts
Museum Educator, National Liberty Museum
Lisa Moulder (2000)
Director, Betsy Ross House
Sara Regensburger (2015)
Lead Collections Asst/Internship Coordinator, Institute for American Indian Studies
Sarah Sutton (2015)
Manager of Educational Programming, Everhart Museum
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
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)
Mid-Atlantic Trail Coordinator, Appalachian Mountain Club
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
Owner, Alexandria Catherine Events
Antonella Gamba (2006)
Owner, dolce Zola Restaurant
Dawn Manning (2009)
Poet and author
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
Deryn Fink (2017), Gambia
Hannah Novy-Wikowski (2010), Botswana
Luigi Zeccardo (2010), Fiji
Erin Jones Bennett, B.A. Sociology (2012), M.A. Creative Writing (2016), M.ED. Special
Education and Teaching
Current Profession: Assistant Director of Learning Services, University of Florida
My biggest takeaway from my sociology degree is that it gave me a critical foundation for better understanding our society and the people and groups within it. It helped me recognize the importance of reflection, building relationships, being open minded and empathic, and practicing cultural reciprocity. I continue to use these skills daily in my current role as Assistant Director of Learning Services at the University of Florida. This is really just a fancy title to say I work in disability services, specifically working with student-athletes, and I oversee our internship program for young professionals that want to join the field. I see the sociology degree as valuable because the opportunities and areas you can work in are endless. I didn’t specifically know I wanted to work with student-athletes or in disability services, but I was able to find this unique career because of the flexibility of the major and the skills I built at West Chester. I also attribute a lot of my success to Dr. Zalewski and Dr. Leveille. Now working at a larger school, I am so grateful I went to a school like West Chester where I was able to take great classes, have close relationships with my professors, and was encouraged to get involved. Additionally, my advice is to take every opportunity that lets you try out different careers. I never would have found my current career if I didn’t try my hand at tutoring for the Athletic Association at Florida and then on a whim ask if there were any internships I could pursue.
Kai Reitelbach, B.A. in Sociology (2018)
Current Profession: Senior Account Executive at J.G. Wentworth
What do I perceive as the value of my Sociology degree? I get that question a lot in one form or another. Having to address this topic for Professor Zalewski and the Sociology Majors Project is something I will always be eager to do.
Obtaining my BA in Sociology and becoming a Sociologist was a priceless endeavor for me. The skills and perspective you inherit as a student of Sociology are applicable to every waking moment of your life. That can be said for almost every field of study, but the subject matter of Sociology is where the difference comes in. The scientific study of the development, social structure, and functioning of human society is the definition of Sociology. As humans, we must give priority to understanding ourselves on a scientific and structural level. Once this perspective is obtained, the rest of human life comes easier. That was my goal and the driving mindset on why I changed from Mathematics to Sociology during my time in college. At West Chester University, my love for the subject was emboldened. I look back at my time in each Sociology class fondly. Becoming a Sociologist was one of the best choices I made in my life thus far.
Samantha LaRocca, B.A in Sociology and Minor in Environmental Health (2020)
Current Profession: Well Testing Program Manager
While applying for colleges back in 2015, I initially did not have a specific degree or career path in mind. I knew I cared deeply for people and wanted to help others but I did not know exactly what that would look like for myself. I decided to major in sociology because I wanted to understand the structures of society and how they affect people differently across age, gender, religion, ethnicity etc. I was also told that you could do a wide variety of things with a degree in sociology and for someone who was open to a variety of career paths, it seemed like a perfect fit. And it was!
During my sophomore year at WCU I enrolled in a newly offered class called Environmental Sociology with Dr. Richman. During this class I began to understand the social factors that cause environmental issues, the impacts of these social issues, and possible solutions. Given that this class sparked my significant interest in the environmental field, I decided to add an Environmental Health minor the very next semester. This class introduced me to an interdisciplinary field that felt both very relevant and important.
Without having explored the various themes of social issues and interactions throughout a variety of sociology classes at WCU, I wouldn't have found my passion for both people and the environment. I am confident that this class, in conjunction with many others, has led me to a fulfilling career combining environmental health and the improvement of people's lives by managing a well testing program with an environmental nonprofit that helps to ensure safe drinking water for private well owners.
I have a sincere appreciation for Dr. Zalewski, Dr. Richman and Dr. Wiest for their knowledge and guidance during my time at West Chester.
Rebecca Chapnick, B.A. Sociology (2018)
Current Profession: Preschool Assistant Teacher
Upon receiving my Sociology degree in 2018, I went on to start work. My first postgraduate job was as a behavioral therapist. With this work, I spent plenty of time with different socioeconomic groups and people of all ages and races. My studies at WCU provided skills and knowledge to be able to understand how economics can affect people’s lifestyles and behaviors. Within two years, I proceeded to teaching. Being a Preschool assistant teacher has provided so much love and joy. It also has its struggles just like any other job. While at WCU, I learned how to better assist my colleagues and students by developing strong interpersonal connections. I feel I have taken what I have learned and applied it to my professional fields and in my everyday life.
Rachel Tillman, B.A. Sociology (2016)
Current Profession: Legal Secretary
My first experience with the Sociology field was at the end of high school where I took a small sociology course. At the time I didn't think much of it, but the subject really caught my attention. When I graduated high school, I began college at another state university but quickly realized I wanted to transfer to West Chester University, and I'm so glad I did!! WCU is an amazing university and had so much more to offer me as a student, especially in the Sociology department! I wasn't exactly sure where the degree would lead me, but I knew regardless of what career I ended up in, the knowledge from a Sociology degree would help me in essentially any field.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude from WCU in 2016, and definitely wouldn't have been able to do that without Dr. Zalewski's guidance, and the help of the other amazing professors at WCU!
I would be lying if I didn't admit that life after college was a little difficult though. It was difficult at first, finding a job that was the right fit for me, among other obstacles in life at that time. But I'm so happy that I persevered because now I've had the opportunity to be in a career field that I absolutely love! I've always had an interest in criminal justice, which was also my minor at WCU. In 2018 I was hired at a local police department in Chester County as their Dispatcher/Receptionist. This position later opened the door for me to be hired at the Chester County District Attorney's Office in 2018 where I ultimately became an Administrative Assistant to Trial Attorneys and the Appellate Unit. While I absolutely loved my job there, I was then hired in 2021 as a Legal Assistant for Attorney Samuel C. Stretton in West Chester!
Through these three major positions in the legal field, I've come across a wide range of people. I've had the opportunity to interact with people from just about every area of the Socioeconomic scale in life. Obviously, when one enters the legal system, it may not be the best time in their lives, and as such, I'm working with citizens, defendants, victims, and clients, that have high emotions. My Sociology degree has helped me tremendously to be able to understand the background that some people may be coming from. Therefore, helping me empathize, understand and assist people the best way that I can.
I'm so fortunate to have my Sociology degree from WCU, and I cannot wait to see what other doors this degree may open up for me in the future!
Sarah Fedor, B.A. Sociology (2012)
Current Profession: Senior Recruiter at PeopleShare
When I graduated from WCU in 2012, I wasn’t exactly sure where my sociology degree would take me.
From starting out as a Pre-K Teacher for the YMCA while bartending on the side, to moving into a social media management role for a local magazine, all brought me to my current career of 6+ years in the staffing/recruiting industry. But when it all boils down, the common thread for all these positions is the focus on people & human relationships.
I have a passion for helping people, and genuinely enjoy cultivating relationships with everyone I encounter. Throughout my career I have interacted with a wide variety of people from all different walks of life. My studies in sociology equipped me with the knowledge to embrace the challenge of serving a diverse community, while interacting with individuals on a personal and professional level.
In the staffing/recruiting industry, it is more than just placing people in jobs. For me, it is really getting to know each candidate, and analyzing what position is the best fit for them long-term.
I believe my sociology degree helped me cultivate a career path where I could utilize my strengths to understand people and really make a difference in their lives.
I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to take several classes with Dr. Jackie Zalewski throughout my time at WCU - the knowledge I obtained from those classes has proven to be invaluable and will continue to be for my entire career.
B.A. Sociology (2020)
Current Profession: Research Assistant with Friends Research Institute
During my final year of high school, I had the opportunity to take an Introduction to Sociology class. During that class, I found what I wanted to study. My freshman year I attended a smaller College before transferring to West Chester University my sophomore year (and I am so glad I did!). During freshman year, I remember being asked by family members what I would do with a degree in Sociology. Essentially, I was being questioned about the value my degree would have.
Before obtaining my Sociology degree, I knew that it would be more valuable than some people might think. As I completed more Sociology courses at West Chester University and got to know the professors and other Sociology students more closely (how could you not, it’s a small department haha!), the value of a degree in Sociology kept appearing larger and larger. When people asked me then, “What can you do with that degree?” my first response was always “SO MUCH!” Seeing the work and research my professors had done and seeing all the things my fellow classmates were doing with their educational pathways showed me that Sociology can take you pretty much anywhere and, to me, that is something so invaluable.
After graduation, my Sociology degree didn’t take me to the most exciting place. First, I was doing hiring and recruiting tasks for a small sales firm in Delaware. I was eventually laid off due to Covid-19, causing the firm to shut down for good. However, the same day that I was laid off was the same day that I received a job offer to be a Research Assistant for a study on opioid use that was being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and led by New York University. I did not have any background or education dealing with substance use, but I did have the basic research skills I obtained during my time at West Chester University (including experience working on the Sociology Majors Project), as well as the passion I had for conducting social science research at Friends Research Institute. I have had the opportunity to contribute positively to the opioid epidemic in our country by collecting data that will offer further help to those who struggle with substance use and addiction.
From the beginning, I was firm in believing that my Sociology degree would hold more value than I could imagine. That belief will not likely change no matter what job I possess or where I find myself in life. Everything I learned and experienced and everyone I met while being a part of the Sociology department at West Chester University will always stick with me and that by itself is immensely invaluable.
B.A. Sociology (2020)
Current Profession: Manager I, Operations with JB Hunt
I had my first taste of sociology back in my senior year of high school with a basic intro class, where it captured my interest for the first time. Fast forward to starting out at West Chester University, I was undecided on a major because I was not sure what I wanted to pursue. I bounced back and forth between sociology and criminal justice, and finally landed on the right choice for me in sociology.
Studying human interaction and more specifically how social structures and institutions influence different groups of people has tremendously aided in preparing me to be a manager. Sociology gave me new perspectives on life that really shaped the way I think. It helped me in developing my research and analytical skills, made me a better communicator, and most importantly helped me become more of a critical thinker. Another huge lesson that was shared with me from Professor Zalewski was the importance of making connections with people. I landed my current role from connections I had made in the past, and continuing to make professional connections will be able to help me as I continue down this career path.
Being a manager of a fleet of truck drivers has made me realize how I use sociology daily. Getting to know my drivers on a more personal level and being able to know about their background has helped me be able to put myself in their shoes to see some of the bigger things influencing them in their lives. Sociology has played a way bigger role in my career than I would have originally thought, and it is knowledge that I will carry with me and utilize for the rest of my life.
B.A. Sociology (2020)
Current Profession: Neighborhood Organizer, Philly Counts
Sociology and Gender Studies are both wide-ranging majors and often crossed research areas. I took classes where I've received credits towards both; several courses are cross-listed in both programs. When Dr. Lisa Huebner introduced Sociology as a major to me, I decided to double major in Sociology and Women and Gender studies. Dr. Jacqueline Zalewski was my professor for several of my Sociology classes, and she was my Sociology program advisor.
Today, I'm working for the City of Philadelphia doing community outreach work surrounding COVID-19. I value my sociology degree because I once feared that it was going to be too broad for the job market. I took that fear and decided to operate in many different spaces of work. I plan to take my post-college graduate experiences and continue to strive in other areas, such as policy. Sociology was a great choice for me.
B.A. Sociology, (2013)
Current Profession: Senior Associate at Sommsation
The path to my sociology degree, like so many others, was not direct. When I started college, I was on track to become a nurse. One of my first classes freshman year at WCU was an Intro to Sociology class which I found fascinating. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to add it as a minor as a way to give my brain something fun and different sprinkled between the science heavy nursing curriculum. Cut to spring semester of my Junior year, I realized that healthcare was not the field for me and made the decision to depart from the nursing program and turn my sociology minor into my major - a decision I will never regret!
Fast forwarding through various positions in customer service, hospitality, and business analytics, I eventually landed a role as an Executive Assistant. The gratitude I have for this position cannot be overstated, partially because this is where my sociology degree really started shining through in my professional work, and because it opened my mind to what a fulfilling career looks like for me.
In the early days of my time as an Executive Assistant, I thought a lot about the applications of my previous work in hospitality and customer service, which certainly helped on the front end; but as I began to hone in on my professional skillset, it became more evident just how much of my sociology brain I had been using without even realizing it! Every interaction from one-on-one meetings to business dinners and social gatherings are unique based on that specific social situation and the unique social background of all parties involved. Having a baseline understanding of the diversity of our society and where structural gaps lie, helps me be better prepared for each situation.
As I continued to learn and grow with the company, I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledgebase by working with other teams - particularly the Human Resources and Technology teams. I'm sure it goes without saying that sociology can be applied to many aspects of HR and employee relations, however, I was surprised at how much it also applied to the Technology team. These combined experiences allowed me to learn more about the underlying structure of the organization and how each person plays a critical role in the broader development of the company. Having this experience remains one of the most satisfying highlights of my career to date, partly because I felt value in contributing my perspective based on lessons learned from my studies at WCU.
Currently I am working with a startup company called Sommsation. We aim to connect wineries, sommeliers and consumers to create fun, engaging and educational virtual wine tastings. When working on a startup, everyone on the team wears many hats. There is no singular day that looks the same as another - the hats I wear on the HR, Operations, Technology, Marketing and Sales teams can be switched out hour to hour and are often swapped or stacked mid-conversation.
Being in the world of consumer facing technology, I get to apply my schooling now more so than ever before. One of the biggest takeaways that I use countless times throughout the day is being able to take a step back and consider situations from another person's perspective. We have to understand who is using our website and for what purpose in order to build a platform that performs best for people with all different uses and expectations. Who are our users? What can we learn from them based on their physical location, home life, and work life? How do their values differ from the person next door? Who are their friends? Who influences them? And how does all of this effect their actions and decision making when on our site? Having the sociology background that I do has aided tremendously as we continue to dig deeper into questions like these.
I have had the great fortune of working with a team that puts an emphasis on listening, learning, and growing together. We encourage each other to use our diverse backgrounds and expertise to build something meaningful, useful and fun. I look forward to seeing where this adventure takes me as I continue to feed my sociology brain and work to answer interesting and complex questions.
BA Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, (2012)
Current Profession: Annual Fund Officer, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
When I enrolled at West Chester University, I was unsure where my education would take me. After taking a few classes in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, I decided to major in both. It has always been important to me to work for an organization that shares my values, and my degree has granted me that opportunity. I currently work in fundraising for a hospital specializing in rehabilitation for complex injuries and those with disabilities. My background in Sociology provided insight into the disparities in our social systems, such as health care. As a fundraiser, I work with donors whose lives have been changed by the care they've received and want to give back. I provide avenues for individuals to make an impact in the lives of those with disabilities. My education shaped my outlook on the world, inspired me to challenge what's conventional and helped me advance professionally and personally.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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, focusing 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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 (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!
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.
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.
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.
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."
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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