BA and MA in Sociology | 2018 | Lecturer on the Sociology and Criminology Department
at the University of Arkansas
I chose to pursue an MA in sociology at the University of Arkansas after obtaining
my BA from the same program. The classes that I took in undergrad made me fall in
love with sociology and I wanted to know more about the discipline . I was also acquainted with many of the faculty in the department and had positive
encounters with my sociology professors at the U of A.
I was in the honors program in undergrad and wrote a thesis, so I knew that there
were faculty who were interested in similar research topics that I am. Knowing that
I would be fully funded in a terminal Master’s program, while also being able to research
topics that I am passionate about, is what really sold me on the program.
Upon graduating, I decided to do a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I serve
at the University of Arkansas in the Center for Community Engagement as the Outreach
and Engagement Program Advisor. In addition to my VISTA position, I am teaching an
online general sociology course at the University of Arkansas. I’m very grateful that
I get to share my love of sociology with my students.
I’ve had several personally significant accomplishments in my education and my work
experience. I think it would be easy to say that my Master’s thesis was a very notable
achievement. However, I think that the most significant to my professional development
was in my first year of the MA program, during my assistantship at the Community and
Family Institute when we did the Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Census in Northwest
Arkansas. The PIT is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals in
Washington and Benton counties. It takes a team of volunteers to perform surveys,
a lot of collaboration from the community, and it results in
a lot of data. I was able to take some responsibility and ownership over this data during
the collection, management, and analysis processes. My advisor, Dr. Fitzpatrick, let
me take the reins on this project, which lead to a lot of skill development in a relatively
short amount of time. In addition to wrangling the data, I was able to create infographics
and other visuals interpreting the data. This accomplishment is so notable to me,
not because it was the biggest or most difficult project that I worked on, but because
I was able to jump in headfirst, overcome obstacles, and feel really proud about the
My experience in the MA in Sociology program has definitely provided me with skills
relevant to my year of service as a VISTA. I am advising a group of student-leaders
that are developing multiple volunteer and service programs on campus. My experience
in the MA program has taught me to challenge students’ perspectives, help them frame
the issues that they are tackling, and help them think about long-term sustainability
for their various programs. I am able to provide my students and office with skills
such as research design and implementation, program assessment skills, analytical
skills, and communication skills. I value being able to look at a complex issue and
break it down into accessible goals or tasks, as well as being able to communicate
that clearly to others.
Honestly, I was under the impression that I was too “overqualified” to be an AmeriCorps
VISTA or do a year of service after receiving my Master’s, but that is far from true.
I would recommend a year of service to anyone who is interested in a human service-related
career, but isn’t sure or doesn’t feel fully prepared. You get a lot of hands-on experience
and get to peer into what the field is really like on a day-to-day basis. The VISTA
program, specifically, is focused on capacity building and development, so you have
the opportunity to develop a lot of relevant skills that can project you forward within
the field. Always keep in mind how sociology pertains to whatever topic or career
path you want (because it definitely does!) and be able to articulate that to others.