Nicholas O’Meally, ’15, Double Major in Sociology and Theatre
“After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Sociology, I attended the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice for my master’s degree in social work. While enrolled, I focused on clinical social work with children and adolescents. My background in Sociology aided me in my ability to discuss topics such as socioeconomics and cultural competency with my peers and being able to analyze the ways in which we are influenced and labeled by society aided me in seeing the realities of my clients. Additionally, my undergraduate studies in feminist theory helped me look closer at the ways in which men talk about mental health differently from women.
Having earned both my Master’s of Social Work and my state licensure, I am now employed as a permanency caseworker in the Greater Philadelphia Area. My role is to aid foster children and foster families through the adoption process and to help new families interested in adopting become certified. Sociology taught me how to confront the racial and economic biases we all inherently have, and that we must look further into why society deems certain behaviors as more acceptable than others. In my everyday practice, I must confront expectations I may have when walking into a client’s home or when asking them about their beliefs surrounding discipline and child-rearing. Sociology not only challenged me to look at our world from a detached lens but prepared me for a career in social work by forcing me to remove my own values while helping others improve their lives.”
Avanti Gabourel, ’14, Major in Sociology, Minors in Justice, Law & Society, and Music
After college, I spent 3 years as a Treatment Support Specialist in Martinsburg, West Virginia working directly with youth ages 12-18 at a residential care facility. I had the opportunity to work with kids from all over West Virginia, some from very rural areas. My background in sociology especially helped me to identify many environmental and external forces that affected the youth and their families. Although I may have had differing opinions or political views with some of the residents, learning about where they came from helped me to make sense of their course of thought and behaviors. Now, I work as a Case Manager at a family support center in Frederick County Government guiding younger adults ages 16-24. We focus a lot on Trauma-Informed Care and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) when delivering our services. My sociological background has helped me notice commonalities among different populations. I am able to identify the social and economic barriers respective to the places people come from. My job essentially is to try to remove those barriers in order to propel people further into success. I help them set short-term and long-term goals and provide frequent reminders to help stay on track. Typically, I make referrals to resources or provide them transportation, which may assist them to advance in their career and education.
Doing my best to understand someone’s culture is crucial in helping me build rapport and gain trust. Sociology helps build a foundational openness and willingness to view things with fresh eyes. I feel I am successful at what I do because I am always considering a person’s dynamic in relation to their various social groups. One should consider the relationship an individual has with others, and within the communities, they are part of. This encourages me to view without judgment or to see how different dynamics affect/produce the hardships people are facing.
My goal as a case manager is to help all people who face adversity beat obstacles and attain self-sufficiency. This comes through immense skill building and education. For most people I work with, it is about surviving day-to-day. It is hard enough knowing where you will end up tomorrow, let alone achieving long-term dreams. Many at-risk populations do not see the potential within themselves. Often they do not believe in their ability to amount to anything, so it means a lot when I can empower them and be their cheerleader. Seeing their success feels incredible.
Carimanda Baynard ’08, Major in Sociology
As a sociology major, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge and passion for helping others to further understand cultural awareness during national incidents and emergencies. In my Sophomore year of college, the same year as Hurricane Katrina, my passion for sociology and cultural awareness only expanded. During my time at WAC, I was awarded two fellowships through the CV Starr Center. Through the CV Starr Center, I developed two research presentations on the following: 1) Examining the media coverage of missing women 2) Defacto segregation in the New Orleans Educational System. In addition, my senior thesis examined The Ongoing Crisis: Defacto Segregation in the New Orleans Educational System.
The sociology program at WAC presents a unique opportunity to enhance your critical and strategic thinking skills and fully utilize your creativity. These research opportunities only enhanced my passion for strategic thinking, organization assessment, and research methodology.
During my time in graduate school at American University, I expanded upon my undergraduate research and completed a master’s thesis examining the media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina in national print publications. My study concluded race, socioeconomic status, and other social demographics factors impacted the media’s coverage and depiction of the impacted Gulf Coast population.
With my passion for emergency management, crisis communication, and cultural awareness, researching Hurricane Katrina served as a multidimensional platform to examine economic & social disparities. My Senior Capstone Experience played a vital role in my graduate school experiences and career path. I am continually grateful to Washington College and the Sociology Department for the platform.
Hilary Wagner, ’07, Major in Sociology
The Social Inequalities and subsequent Intro. to Social Welfare courses I took [at Washington College] provided me with a solid foundation for the work I do now evaluating federal nutrition programs to improve quality of life for low-income populations…I was proud of the senior capstone paper I wrote but I did not realize at the time how impactful and useful that experience would ultimately be on my career. I wrote a background and case study on cooperative housing, a project that required extensive primary and secondary data collection. It was my first real experience with conducting in-depth interviews, a research method that I now use regularly.