For a number of years, the Sociology Department has hosted numerous alumnae/i as Wilson Alumni/ae Practitioners and as Alumni/ae Scholars. These alums have helped current students hear first-hand about career choices and pathways they might not have envisioned clearly before.
The college's Alumni/ae Scholar Program is designed to bring alumni early in their academic careers back to campus, to enrich the college's cultural offerings and to show current students models of academic careers. In 1999, in our first two Alumni Scholar visits, we hosted Sandra Stein '88 and Kathryn Lunetta '89. Dr. Stein was at the time an Assistant Professor (later promoted to Associate Professor) at Baruch College, City University of New York; she is now the Chief Executive Officer at the NY Leadership Academy, an innovative program to develop principals and educational leaders who are prepared to function successfully in New York City schools. Dr. Lunetta was an Assistant Professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, in biostatistics; she is now a Professor of Biostatistics at Boston University.
More recently, we have hosted three Alumni Scholars: Katy Gold Hadley '92, Jennifer Ashby '95, and Sarah Staveteig '98.
Katy Hadley, an Independent Chinese Studies major and informal sociology major, had taught in Taiwan for a number of years, and had earned a PhD from Indiana University in sociology; she is now teaching sociology at California State University, Sacramento.
Jennifer Ashby had earned an MSW at Smith University and is working at Duke University Medical Center.
Sarah Staveteig, who had been working at the Urban Institute, was beginning her graduate studies at Berkeley in a joint program in demography and sociology; she is finishing that program now.
In order to supplement the academic focus of the Alumni Scholar program, Chris Hunter, a member of the Wilson Program committee, helped develop the Wilson Practitioners program, which invites recent alumni who have pursued non-academic careers back to campus. Chris has been inviting Practitioners to visit his seminar on nonprofit organizations on a regular basis, beginning in 1999 with Cristy Costello '85, a union organizer.
Our sociology major Practitioners have represented many forms of social activism. In order of their visits to campus:
Jill Paulsen '98 was then a grants officer at the Cleveland Foundation, and is now Director of Grant Programs at Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
Alice Gates '97 is a graduate student in sociology and social work at the University of Michigan and has been a community organizer.
Melissa Fry Konty '95 was then a PhD graduate student in sociology at the University of Arizona. For a number of years, Melissa applied her PhD expertise as a Research and Policy Associate at MACED, the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. Very recently, she started a tenure-track position as Director of the Applied Research and Education Center at Indiana University Southeast.
Diedre Murch '03 was a labor organizer for ACORN with the Michigan Nurses Association and is now an organizer with SEIU.
Jessica Halverson '02 was then, and is now, Manager of Development at the nonprofit coalition, CERES.
Delphia Shanks '01 was then Director of Community Development, Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph and now a graduate student in Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University.
Chris Neubert '08 is a community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, in Des Moines.
All of these sociology alumnae and alumni have enriched our classes and brought a touch of "real world" practicality to our current students. We will continue inviting alums to campus as long as funding is available!