Letter from the Editress (by Anya Galli)

profileAs incoming editress, I want to start by thanking Beverly Pratt and Meg Austin Smith for their outstanding work on the newsletter in past years. I am honored to follow in the steps of such fabulous and talented women. With so many transitions in our department this year—Dr. Patricio Korzeniewicz as incoming chair, Dr. Phillip Cohen as incoming graduate director, and the arrival of assistant professor Dr. Rashawn Ray, and an incoming graduate cohort of 17 students, to name a few—I hope this issue of the newsletter provides readers with a lively snapshot of our University of Maryland Sociology community.

In this issue, look for spotlights on 2003 alum Rose Kreider, staff member Orienta Huger, graduate student Denae Johnson, and sophomore undergraduate Christopher Quach, as well as a profile of our diverse group of new graduate students.  We report on recent and upcoming events in the department, including the Rosenberg Forum and exciting goings-on with the Sociological Cinema, with a reflection from Lester Andrist, one of the editors of the site. Additionally, four faculty members offer their responses and generous advice on the topic of “balancing work and family.” This issue ventures into new territory by highlighting some of the undergraduate work happening in our department with a piece on the McDonaldization of secondary education by sophomore Clio Grillakis.

As always, I am grateful for the intellectual strength, generosity, and humor of our department community. Many thanks go to all who made this issue of the newsletter possible, especially our contributors.

Anya Galli

Letter from the Chair (by Patricio Korzeniewicz)

Last year ended on a sad note, as we experienced the loss of Harriet Presser. Reeve (with the assistance of others) wrote a very thoughtful obituary in the last issue of Footnotes [http://www.asanet.org/footnotes/septoct12/obit_0912.html#obit4]. Harriet Presser made a huge contribution to the reputation of our department, and it was comforting to see, at her memorial, how many lives she had touched.

We begin a new academic year with lots of news. After fulfilling a two-year Robert Wood Johnson post-doctoral fellowship at U.C. Berkeley, Rashawn Ray has now joined us in-residence as our newest Assistant Professor. Soon, we will be receiving Liana Sayer (currently at Ohio State), who will be joining us starting next Spring as an Associate Professor. We have admitted a (large) cohort of wonderful new students into our Ph.D. program. We have welcomed Erika Hoff (Administrative Coordinator) and Lindsey Lennon (Program Management Specialist) as the latest additions to our staff. And some of the office space in our department has been (or is in the process of being) renovated, providing a greatly improved setting for the Program on Society and the Environment (PSE, coordinated by Professor Dana Fisher) and the Time-Use Lab (to be coordinated by Professor Sayer).

I am very excited about the accomplishments of our faculty and students. I’ll mention three noteworthy events. Recently, Stanley Presser was recognized as a Distinguished University Professor: he joins in that rank our existing DUPs, Patricia Hill Collins and George Ritzer. Melissa Milkie was able to secure university and college support for a new Culture Lab that will focus on content analysis. And David Segal was instrumental in facilitating a $1 million donation to our university, to be used as a full veteran scholarship. These are very good news, and they have served to enhance the prestige of our department.

pkorzeniewiczI would be remiss in this brief letter as new chair if I failed to acknowledge the very effective leadership that Reeve Vanneman provided to our department for the past three years. His act will be very tough to follow. Thank you, Reeve!

Patricio Korzeniewiczkorzen@umd.edu

Alumni Spotlight: Rose Kreider, ’03

kreiderBeverly Pratt, an advanced PhD student and former Newsletter editress, caught up with Rose Kreider, an 03’ alum who now works at the Census Bureau. Beverly asked Rose about her background, how she came to UMD, her life and career after graduate school, and her perspective on “intellectual maturation.”

I came to the UMD graduate program in Sociology after having worked for a few years after getting my undergraduate degree in another field. I’m a Marylander, so it made sense to go to graduate school locally, especially with a strong program available in my back yard. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UMD. I took Suzanne Bianchi’s Family Demography course in my first term, and have pursued related topics ever since. My work has focused on subjects like interracial marriage, living arrangements of children, adoption, cohabitation, and marriage and divorce patterns in the US. Continue reading

Save the Date: April 18th, 2013 – Academic Achievement: It’s Not So Black and White

Academic Achievement: It’s Not So Black and White, brings together four experts in the Sociology of Education whose research addresses questions of 1.) why gaps in academic achievement persist between racial and ethnic groups and 2.) what works to eliminate these gaps. This panel discussion will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12pm in the Carroll room of the Stamp Student Union.

Panelists include:

 -Dr. Angel Harris, Princeton University, author of Kids Don’t Want to Fail
-Dr. Karl Alexander, Johns Hopkins University, author of Children, Schools, and Inequality
-Dr. Odis Johnson, University of Maryland, Primary Investigator, NSF and AERA grant “Ecological Determinants of the Achievement Gap”

Moderated by Dr. Patricia Hill Collins, author of Another Kind of Public Education

Please consider attending and also including this session in your syllabi for next semester. To help prepare undergraduate classes for full participation in this session, we have created a slide set and a classroom activity that can be adapted for use in your course for teaching about education inequality and education justice. Please email Meg Austin Smith (mras@umd.edu) for these materials.

Sociological Cinema Wins MERLOT Award

MERLOTawardCongratulations to Paul Dean, Lester Andrist, and Valerie Chepp, recipients of the 2012 MERLOT Sociology Classics Award, for their work on the Sociological Cinema!


The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) Award for Exemplary Online Learning Resources “recognizes and promotes outstanding peer reviewed online resources designed to enhance teaching and learning. The award is granted to honor the authors and developers of these resources for their contributions to the academic community.” The editor of the MERLOT Sociology Editorial Board said: “this site is comprised of a rich and growing aggregate of online video clips for which discussion is provided relative to both sociological application and classroom use. The site filters through the enormous amount of online video to bring instant access to a host of sociologically-relevant video resources. This should significantly enhance concept relevance, enabling users to simplify, deepen discussion, and promote understanding of key ideas. The collection draws from diverse genres, including segments from popular movies, documentaries, television programs, commercials, etc. The creators are to be commended for making this valuable resource available for sociology instructors.”

 Les and Valerie, both advanced PhD students, accepted the award in July, 2012 at the MERLOT/Sloan-C Emerging Technologies Conference in Las Vegas.

Faculty Spotlight: Liana Sayer (by Mandi Martinez)

Our newest faculty member, Dr. Liana Sayer, received her PhD in Sociology here at the University of Maryland, and will be returning to the department in the Spring of 2013.  Though Dr. Liana Sayer is currently finishing up her position at The Ohio State University, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her over the past few months.  I recently had the opportunity to interview her about her research interests, career, and time here at Maryland.  Liana lives with her long time partner, Bryan, her mother, Mary Ann, and their 3 cats: Simone (after Simone de Beauvoir), Dexter, and Isabella. 

people-faculty-sayerAs an undergrad you majored in Government and got your MA in political science.  How did you end up pursuing a PhD in Sociology?
My first experience with graduate school — pursuing a PhD in political science — was a disaster because I hadn’t yet realized I was really a sociologist. I wasn’t connecting intellectually with the material in the program and — in part because I was 22 and clueless — interpreted this as an individual failing instead of lack of disciplinary fit. So I left the program, moved to the DC area, and started working at the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation as a researcher on “women’s issues.” I’d long had an interest in “gender” — perhaps from experiences like seeing my full-time employed mom’s credit card application to a local department store be rejected, unless my Dad’s name was on the card — and preparing briefs on issues like reproductive rights and the wage gap exposed me to a lot of sociological research. So I took a Gender, Work, and Family class with Bobbi Spalter-Roth at American University, to see if I could really make it in graduate school, and then decided to apply to PhD programs in sociology. Continue reading

Reflections at the Intersection of Cinema and Sociology (by Lester Andrist)

The Sociological Cinema turned two this year, and in recognition of this milestone, Anya Galli invited us to write this reflection for the department newsletter. We are occasionally asked where we got the idea for the site, and we have often quipped that like most good ideas, the idea started in a bar, but that answer is a bit misleading. In fact, the site didn’t materialize as a fully formed idea. It has been a work in progress, and two years on, the site is far different in many ways than the one we set out to build.

The one thing we agreed on was that our students lied. That is, we knew our students offered affirmative nods in class when we explained to them that intersectionality theory draws attention to the relationship between multiple dimensions of inequality. They nodded too when we explained that such things as teenagers and race are social constructs. But as many sociology instructors can attest, nods aren’t always reliable indicators of comprehension. We want students to nod when they understand, but the problem is it’s too easy for them to fall into a trance where on some level they come to believe that they’ve understood something simply because they’ve nodded. The task is—and has always been—to penetrate that thin deflector plate that resides somewhere between an external stimulus and the brain, between class content and student cognition. Valerie, Paul, and I simply had the idea that film offers a powerful way of breaking the trance and shattering that brittle brain plate. Continue reading

The 2012 Rosenberg Forum: Dr. Dalton Conley (by Bryant Best)

The 2012 Rosenberg lecture was presented by Dr. Dalton Conley of New York University. Dr. Conley is an esteemed researcher whose interests focus on economic opportunity, racial inequality, and health and biology. His list of supporters includes the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Dr. Conley discussed his thoughts on genetic differences and how they affect children within immediate families. He prefaced this discussion with reference to his own works, including Being Black: Living in the Red, an analysis that debunked the theory that racial differences in wealth are due to race. He also acknowledged the influence of other scholars’ work, like Susan E. Mayer’s What Money Can’t Buy. Dr. Conley was polished in his knowledge of the topic and its surrounding areas, and he constantly referred to outside works throughout his presentation. Continue reading

First Generation Film Screening (by Carrie Clarady)

FG_Poster_PrintOn the evening of September 20th, The Sociological Cinema screened First Generation, a documentary following four high school seniors who each hope to become first-generation college students. The screening promised to be followed by an interesting conversation, and because these screenings are open to the public I could bring my 12-year-old son along. After all, my own college application story is closer to that of the kids in the film than it will be to my own son’s, and my own class mobility frequently leaves me wishing that my children understood more about how variable the experience of kids is across the country. Maybe the film could help with that.

In the film four teenagers – two female, three of color, two from families with a recent history of immigration to the US – celebrate their last year of high school and negotiate the increasingly complex college application process, all while continually reevaluating their own wishes for their lives and everything that those wishes may cost. The costs range between the students – they all worry about paying for it, but more than that there are family and cultural ties that feel threatened by their ambitions to try something new, something more and a little foreign. Interspliced throughout the narratives of the students are commentary from teachers and guidance counselors struggling to support a large student body with diverse needs and education experts who understand all too well the challenges faced by these students, the limitations that school support systems can offer them, and the consequences for those students and the country as a whole. Continue reading

Staff Spotlight: Orienta Huger (by Margaret Austin Smith)

ohugerWhen two Carolina fans get together, talk of football rarely results in positive imagery. Unless, that is, they come from the place the present author learned as a child to think of as “the Other Carolina.” And indeed that’s where Orienta Huger hails from. She’s a South Carolina Gamecock: she knows and appreciates good football. But Orienta is clearly much more generous about her Carolinas than I. She loves basketball, too. And she knows which Carolina the sun shines on there.

Orienta grew up in Cross, South Carolina, a town in Berkeley County – approximately seven hours down I-95 on a “good” traffic day followed by a few extra miles east. Orienta’s appreciation of football excellence stems in part from plenty of exposure to SEC play. In fact, if she had to name one drawback to living in the DC area, it would not be the traffic on 95 or 495 or anywhere else around the Beltway: it would be the lack of SEC coverage on TV. One of the best things, however, about being up here is that if ever she has a little free time, there is a chance that there might be an exciting team in town. (Alas the Wizards and the Redskins don’t often meet this excitement criterion, but their visitors sometimes do – especially if those visitors happen to be the Heat or the Jaguars. Alas again, the poor old Carolina Panthers don’t tend to count as exciting either, and might well have built up better football karma if they’d located themselves on the other side of the Carolina border.)

Orienta arrived in College Park in May 2011 after five years in Nashville, Tennessee doing IT work quite similar to the work she does here for a smaller university. While the issues she deals with in the Sociology department are not so different from the issues she encountered in prior work, she does note that she sees fewer problems here with viruses here than she did there. The users here, she says, are good about staying away from virus-carrying sites.

Orienta enjoys her work, particularly because she gets to help people solve the computer concerns that they have so that they can better enjoy their work. Thus she’s a generous a colleague as she is a Carolina fan. And that means the rest of us are pretty darn lucky.

Margaret is a 4th year PhD student.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Denae Johnson (by Sarah Wanenchak)

JohnsonGirlsWhere did you attend for undergrad, and how did your experience there contribute to where you are now?
I attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA for my undergraduate studies, focusing on racial inequality and Pan-African studies.  Having attended an institution in the Pennsylvania Appalachians and feeling very isolated at the beginning of my studies, I learned how to reach out to like-minded people and develop a sense of community.  I am grateful for that experience.

What made you decide to come to Maryland?

Besides the university’s standing and some of the excellent faculty, University of Maryland’s proximity to my hometown, Philadelphia, was a major deciding factor.  Also, I am absolutely infatuated with the DC-MD-VA area.

What is the best thing about being part of this department?
The best thing would be the people.  I have come across some excellent minds and personalities in such a short amount of time!

What motivates you most in your academic life at this point? What do you think is the foundation that keeps you moving forward?
My nieces and nephews motivate me more than anything.  They give me hope, and I want them to have opportunities that were never an option for me.  My family is and always will be the foundation of every aspect of my life.

What is one thing that you especially enjoy and find fulfilling outside of grad school?
My work for The CHARLES Foundation (Creating Healthy Alternatives Results in Less Emotional Suffering), named after my deceased brother, is also a large part of my life.  The CHARLES Foundation, based in Philadelphia, PA, seeks to reduce gun violence through offering and supporting local events and fundraisers, partnerships with city and state authorities, community-based organizations and schools, and the construction and eventual opening of a foster care home for adolescent boys.  Please visit our website at http://www.thecharlesfoundation.com/ (soon to be renovated!).
Denae is a 3rd year PhD student. Her research interests include intersections of gender, sexuality, and race.

Sarah is a 4th year PhD student

Advice from Professors: Balancing Work and Family

Meredith Kleykamp, PhD

mkleykampWhen asked to talk about how I balance academic life and family, my first thought is that there is no balance in my life (sorry to disappoint).  To me, balance suggests a state of equilibrium, stasis, calm, harmony. But things are never in an instantaneous state of equilibrium and I don’t expect they ever will be.  My goal is to ensure that over time, not instantaneously, family and work are “balanced”. As a mother I’m expected to “think of my family first” but the truth is I don’t always put my family first.  I have a husband who is more than an equal partner in parenting and house-holding and when I need to put work first, I rely on him to take on the extra load of parenting and partnering. I am unapologetic about that–he’s a wonderful father and we jointly parent, even if not equally on a daily basis.  I do homework with my son every night I’m home, volunteer in his class every week, and participate in a book club with him.  But my husband does a lot more on a daily basis to keep our household running. However, in the past I have sacrificed a great deal with respect to work and career to have a baby and raise him alone, while he was deployed to Iraq for 14 months. There was no balance then either, and the scale tipped toward his work needs.  Our life has never been balanced and probably never will be balanced. It has always been and will continue to be attentive to trade-offs, turn-taking and equality over the long run, but without score-keeping. So how do I make it work?  I’m not sure that I do, frankly.  But to the extent that I make it work, it comes down to having a supportive partner who takes on an extra share of family care when I need it.  After a 20 year Army career, he has also sacrificed his career progress for my turn at it.

I also don’t spend a lot of time fretting over how to balance work and life because as an academic I’ve got it good. An academic career is tough, but it is also much more flexible than most professional careers. I do try to treat my work like any other job. I expect to log between 40-60 hours a week, actually working, not just web-surfing, reading Twitter, etc… If you want to be more productive try the Pomodoro technique for time management.  You can get a lot done when you set out a task and devote a specific amount of time to it. A former colleague used to write for 2 hours a day every day, but no more.  She completed her 3rd book in 6 years. Managing your time well and working consistently and efficiently is a habit you can cultivate now, regardless of your work/family/life balance concerns.

Rashawn Ray, PhD

rrayBalancing work and family can be daunting no matter what the family arrangement. However, there are certain segments of the population (e.g., single mothers and working class families) that have a much more difficult time than professors and graduate students. We have job flexibility and autonomy to set the parameters of our daily schedules. Despite this flexibility, I aim to come and leave the office at the same time each day in order to spend the evenings with my family.
Before leaving the office each day, I set tasks and priorities for the following day as well as how much time I think each priority will take to accomplish. It is then my job to complete those priorities within the allotted time I have scheduled. If I do not finish the priorities,
the penalty is that I have to work once my boys go to sleep (which means cutting into my sleep time). This checks and balances system forces me to use my time wisely, while not sacrificing the importance of quality time at home.

My current book project with Dr. Pam Jackson explores balancing work-family life among Black, White, and Mexican-American families. We argue that the concept of “balancing” does little to express the ways individuals negotiate the constraints of work and family. By using an intersectionality perspective, we show that conceptualizing work-family life as “checkers or chess” games allow for the cognitive process of decision making (e.g., time pressure, mental spillover, role strain, role conflict) to be assessed more efficiently across work-family domains. We find that more socioeconomic status and marriage provide social and economic capital to more easily fulfill role obligations. Individuals with more capital have more choices and are offered a chess board and a variety of pieces to facilitate the goal of creating work-family harmony. Individuals with less capital end up with less job flexibility and play checkers through rigid concrete roles because work decisions are in the hands of their employers instead of their own.

Jeff Lucas, PhD

jlucasI don’t know that I am a good model of “making family and academic life work in tandem,” but I have developed a lot of experience trying to do it. Being an academic is a strange job to balance with having a family. In most respects, it’s terrific. I almost never have to be working, and that results in tremendous flexibility. This morning I stayed home with the kids while my wife went to vote, and I’ll leave work early to vote on my way home. I don’t have to ask anyone permission to do these things, and I take the flexibility for granted. I also don’t have to count vacation or leave days-I just take them when I choose to. I have a nine year-old son with significant disabilities, and my wife and I often wonder how we could have managed the past nine years if I had a regular job. I really don’t know how we could have done it. When he’s hospitalized, for example, I’ll sometimes miss a week of work, only coming in to teach, and no one seems the worse for my absence.

Although the plusses far outweigh the negatives, there is a downside. Although I rarely have to work, there is always work I have to get done. Being an academic is a job that is not often “occurring” in any formal way but also one that never stops. I coach a youth baseball team, and on Sunday we had our final game of the year and end of the year party. During the game, I received a handful of emails from students with questions about a paper due in class on Monday, a request from a co-author on a proposal due Monday for me to send him a current draft of the proposal, and a request from another co-author for feedback on a paper draft. I got these emails on my phone while coaching third base. As I went through the game and subsequent party, lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to attend to all of these emails when I got home. Yesterday (a Monday), I left work at 3:30 and would say that I spent the rest of the day with my family. But, I just looked at my sent items folder and see that I sent emails, all related to my job, at 4:08, 4:34, 5:13, 5:44, 8:11, 8:12, 9:41, 9:45, 10:49, and 11:51 PM.

Perhaps the worst part of the job never stopping is that I can always convince myself that I don’t have time to do things that I would enjoy, because I could always be working instead of doing whatever those things are. Almost as bad is that it’s hard to convince other people I have to work when there’s nowhere I actually have to be. A couple years ago my mother suggested that I get a job at Home Depot over the winter break. I don’t know if she’ll ever understand that I’m still working even when I’m not teaching classes. It’s even harder to make my kids understand this.

As you can see, I haven’t found a perfect balance. However, I feel incredibly lucky to have a job that gives me the kind of flexibility that my job does, to say nothing about how much I enjoy the work when I’m doing it. My advice falls into the do as I say, not as I do category. I really need to get email off my phone, or at least turn off the ding that signals every arriving email. I think the best strategy is to check email once or twice a day and otherwise ignore it. Something I do manage well-always reply promptly to emails. I tell my students that every email they receive should get a reply, and get one within 24 hours, even if it’s just to acknowledge receiving it. I am in my 9th year at Maryland, and I think in that time I have only once ignored an email directly addressed to me. Also, don’t use your inbox for holding emails that need attention. I think that doing that allows your inbox to take over your life. Attend to things when you get them or put what you have to do on your to-do list and move the messages somewhere else.

The biggest challenge to balancing work and family for me is carving out the right kinds of time for really dedicated work that requires periods of intense concentration. One way I do this is by coming to the office on many Sunday evenings when few other people are around; I spend the day with my family and then come to work when my kids start moving toward bed. I sometimes think I get more done in those 6 or 7 hours in the office than in the entire rest of my week at work. You should find times that you are productive and make use of those times for writing. If you can find an hour a day to write (I mean writing, not searching literature, summarizing articles, etc.) with everything else (e.g., email, Internet, etc.) turned off, you should have a productive career. That said, something it took me more than half of graduate school to learn was the significant advantages of working a standard work day. It requires adjustments for most graduate students, but there are a lot of benefits to working on the schedule the rest of the world is working on. For one thing, it usually helps a whole bunch for managing the work/family balance.  And, in terms of that hour a day for writing, I think the best time for this for most people is the first hour of the work day in the morning. I wrote my dissertation in about ten weeks by getting to the office early and spending the first two or three hours of the day writing before other graduate students started showing up.

I was asked to “contribute a few words” on the work/family balance, and I have to be getting close to 1000. It’s something I struggle with every day and that requires constant compromises. I hope that learning about my experiences with the balance, if not providing a blueprint for doing things the right way, has shed some light on the issues that sometimes come up in managing work and family in an academic job.

mmilkieMelissa Milkie, PhD

Some researchers in the GWF area do not like the term “balancing” much (though I’ve used it myself in publications); essentially, what most people are doing is trying to prevent work from interfering with family life.  And “balancing” in most other countries is easier because of systematic family leave policies and more sane work schedules and cultures.  Given we are in the States, being an academic can be a privileged and flexible space to be able to create a fabulous work and family dynamic.  A down side of this career, however, is that geographic mobility is highly restricted, which can be very difficult for two-career partnerships or for couples who want to live near the grandparents. And the tenure window is narrow and miserably timed for most who want to be parents.

I am quite a deviant, having three kids and a pretty intensive academic career (this is especially unusual for women).  This combination is not for the faint of heart, but if you go the multiple kids route, the best way to effectively “balance” work and family is to set yourself up with many resources on the family front and to clearly ask for what you need on the work front. I’ve had a very involved partner who works from home some of the week, and does cooking, dishes, packing lunches, school pickups, etc. Also, I have been able to obtain high quality child care, flexibility in scheduling courses, and more.  It helps to have very clear values and for me, I privilege my kids over work. Choices are fairly easy when push comes to shove, and I don’t agonize too much about what I give up career-wise for them. To balance, you also need to let go. With tons of time and effort given to both kids and work, most of the short shift goes to the home being as orderly as you want, to sleep, to leisure and to partner time. For us, couple time can be with laptops, working together at 5. a.m. so we can be available for kids later in the day. Not terrible, but not your typical romantic date either! I read about one novel a year, when I’d love to read more fiction. I have watched virtually no TV or movies for years and years. And there is the exercise I rarely get to. And then there is the …………………..sorry, I was nodding off.

There are definitely tradeoffs in the juggle, such as, will you give every talk you are invited to give or go to every conference when you have a young child? Probably not, and that is OK.  Will you be sleep deprived, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, and feeling like everything you do is good enough but not perfect?  At times, yes.  Can you live with these things, knowing the big picture that both the kid and career are most likely going to be fine, long term? That acceptance is a big part of it.

In terms of timing, especially for women academics who have narrow windows of tenure clock and fertility that overlap in a bad way, my advice is to really front load the career, i.e., get many things going very early on in grad school, work especially hard at stacking the deck favorably, so when the inevitable temporary slowdown comes with a baby, your CV is strong and publications still keep coming out through the critical points of being on the job market and/or during the asst. professor years.  If you examine my record, you probably could not guess which years my kids were born (2 pre-tenure), because it looks very steady in terms of output. Co-authors help.  I found it was hard to start a new solo project with a baby, but finishing ongoing ones or working with co-authors was easier.

In the end, you must ask yourself, what will I absolutely *not* give up? living with a partner in the same city? having a child by age 35? having a certain number of kids?  having a certain type of academic job? etc.  Once you know this answer, you will be prepared to prioritize in specific ways.  And if you have kids, it’s good to remember the big picture—that your career is 40 plus years long, parenthood even longer. That is a lot of time to get things right even when, at any given stage you will be dropping the ball on the family end or the work end regularly.

I decided to integrate work and family by conducting some research into how I am doing at the work-family balancing act. First, with the 8-year-old son: Melissa: how would you rate me on a scale of 1-10, as a mom? Son: is there a zero? Melissa: … Son: just curious.  Moving to the 10-year old-daughter: Melissa: how would you rate me on a scale of 1-10, as a mom? Daughter: mom, stop being weird. You don’t rate people.  Melissa: … Daughter: I’m just saying. And the 14-year-old son: Melissa: (after a day I taught class and arrived home relatively late) did you miss me today? Son: you were gone?

Introducing the 2012-2013 Cohort

The incoming cohort for the 2012-2013 school year brings a whopping seventeen new students to our department. This diverse group includes first year students from eight states and four countries. Read on to learn about our new students’ interests, from sociology to late-night snacking and study tunes.

 Bryant BestBryant Best
Hometown/country: Wilson, NC
Previous degrees: B.A. Psychology and African American Studies University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: Growing up in a racially segregated Southern town that opened my eyes to the complexities of economic and educational disparities. As such, I chose to study identity through race, ethnicity, and gender, three factors that I feel are central to one of the complications.
Favorite late-night study snack: Ramen noodles, AKA poverty’s pasta! Survival tactics 101
Dreams of a coffee date with: Dr. Patricia Hill Collins *wink, wink*
First cassette/CD purchase: Sisqó- Unleash the Dragon (great CD! Don’t judge me! Lol)
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: You can’t go that long without spiritual encouragement, so I’d be fine with a CD featuring Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond, and other gospel singers.

Esha ChatterjeeHometown/country: India
Previous Degrees:B.S. Economics, Calcutta University, M.A. and M.Phil Economics, Jadavpur University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: A project I did for my M Phil (it was on demography). I was interested in the work done by faculty in the department, especially in the field of demography.
Favorite late-night study snack: Chicken Nuggets.
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Any good Hindi music.

Chih-Chin Chen
Hometown/country: Taipei, Taiwan
Previous degrees:  B.A. Sociology, University of Maryland College Park
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I‘m interested in social theory, globalization, and consumption of the world. I would like to study them in depth, systematically and create my own theory.

Jonathan CoxJonathan Cox
Hometown/country: Dayton, Ohio
Previous degrees: B.S. Health and Physical Education, Hampton University, M.Ed. College Student Affairs, The Pennsylvania State University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I want to teach at the college level and that requires a PhD. I decided on sociology because I have varied interests and the point of intersection was sociology.
Favorite late-night study snack: Pretzles and an Izze [soda]. Or nachos and salsa. I’m undecided.
Dreams of a coffee date with: Malcom XFirst cassette/CD purchase: New Kids on the Block- Hangin’ Tough
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: John Legend- Once Again

Hsiang-Yuan Ho
Hometown/country: Taiwan
Previous degrees: BA in International Business, National Taiwan University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I changed my major from business, so there’s a lot I need to learn in Sociology. And getting a graduate degree could help me not only in academic achievement but in bridging academics to practices.
Favorite late-night study snack: Chocolate and cookies
Dreams of a coffee date with: Queen Elizabeth the First
First cassette/CD purchase: Titanic theme songs
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: The second album of MayDay (a Taiwanese rock band)

Kristin KernsKristen Kerns
Hometown/country: State College, PA
Previous degrees: BA Sociology, Penn State. Psychology minor and Law, Crime, and Society Certificate.
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I wanted to keep going and branch out and expand on everything I learned as an undergrad. Also a good career move, allows for several options in the future.
Favorite late-night study snack: Pizza, Pop Tarts, and Pretzel M&Ms
Dreams of a coffee date with: Nikola Tesla
First cassette/CD purchase: Backstreet Boys, perhaps?
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Brahms German Requiem

WendyWendy M. Laybourn
Hometown/country: Memphis, TN
Previous degrees: B.A. Sociology, University of Memphis
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I love the discipline and I want to contribute to the research and the public’s understanding of my field.
Favorite late-night study snack: Green seedless grapes.
Dreams of a coffee date with: I’d love to have a cup of coffee and conversation with Oprah.
First cassette/CD purchase: Hmm…not exactly sure, but probably Garth Brooks or some other country artist.
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: John Legend- Get Lifted, OR a mixtape by Memphis based DJ, DJ Houston

Jaein LeeJae-In Lee
Hometown/country: Seoul, South Korea
Previous degrees: B.A. and M.A. Sociology, Korea University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: Because I want to make my specialization respond to society.
Favorite late-night study snack: Pringles
Dreams of a coffee date with: Abraham Lincoln
First cassette/CD purchase: Michael Learns to Rock
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Chris Tomlin

Phillip LennonPhil Lennon
Hometown/country: Warwick, New York
Previous degrees: B.S. Sociology, Florida State University. Minor in Philosophy.
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: Fortune & fame
Favorite late-night study snack: Almond butter
Dreams of a coffee date with: Jack Kerouac or Ghandi
First cassette/CD purchase: Pennywise, “Full Circle”
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Silverstein’s “Decades”

Glenn_LoveGlenn Love
Hometown/country: Baltimore, MD
Previous degrees: Coppin State University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: Sociology provides the most comprehensive lens for analyzing the causes and consequences of social phenomena.  Favorite late-night study snack: Gummi Bears and Butterfingers!
Dreams of a coffee date with: W.E.B. Dubois
First cassette/CD purchase: The soundtrack from Teddy Ruxpin
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Drake–Take Care

Jessica Peña
Hometown/country:New YorkPrevious degrees: B.A. Sociology, CUNY Hunter College
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: As a sociology undergrad, I read tons of work on immigration, gender inequality, and many other areas, and I realized I could apply my knowledge and experiences to create knowledge. Being able to influence the field is extremely important to me.
Favorite late-night study snack: Popcorn and strawberries
Dreams of a coffee date with: Audre Lorde

Joanna PepinJoanna Pepin
Hometown/country: Seattle
Previous degrees: Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: My background is in couples’ therapy and domestic violence. I’m interested in how culture shapes the spectrum of intimate partner relationships- idealized weddings to intimate partner fatalities.
Favorite late-night study snack: Hot chocolate
Dreams of a coffee date with: Anne Frank
First cassette/CD purchase: New Kids on the Block
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Can I cheat? Podcasts of This American Life

Robert ReynosoRobert Reynoso
Hometown/country: Bronx, New York
Previous degrees: B.A. Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, M.A. Organizational Psychology, Teachers College, Colombia University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: Perspective. I believe the collision of sociology and psychology is stronger, more powerful, and will offer me an opportunity to approach issues in life with a robust perspective and approach.
Favorite late-night study snack: Whatever’s available
Dreams of a coffee date with: My Dad, someone who did something great
First cassette/CD purchase: Good one, probably Puff Daddy, Forever (don’t judge me!).
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: At the moment, Crystal Castles (2010)…if that magically breaks, then the XX

VLUU L110  / Samsung L110Shengwei Sun
Hometown/country: Shanghai, China
Previous degrees: B.A. Politics  and Gender and Women’s Studies, Scripps College
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: While in college, I was actively engaged in the civil society within the sphere of women’s organizing through my internships with various kinds of women’s NGOs both in China and the U.S. My senior thesis seeks to explore the puzzle of an emerging civil society within an authoritarian setting through a case study of women’s organizing in China. I examined how local groups adopt certain strategies and prioritize certain issues over others under the political, economic, and social constraints of their living environment. In my future studies, I am primarily interested in the issues of gender, demography and development.
Favorite late-night study snack: FruitDreams of a coffee date with: Hannah Arendt
First cassette/CD purchase: Savage Garden
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Savage Garden

J. Ross Yastrzemsky “Yaz”
Hometown/country: Baltimore, MD
Previous degrees: B.S. Civil Engineering, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY and M.P.A. Public Administration, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: My following assignment in the Army is to serve as the course director for “officership” (ie leadership) in the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic at West Point. This degree will prepare me for my future assignment.
Favorite late-night study snack: Mike & Ikes
Dreams of a coffee date with: Coach K
First cassette/CD purchase: Huey Lewis and the News
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Miley Cyrus –Party in the USA

Sojin YuSojin Yu
Hometown/country: South KoreaCommunications, Sogang University
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I did a master’s degree in Sociology in the UK and I did enjoy the discipline. I want to study gender and possibly globalizing theory in-depth and continue my research on these issues.
Favorite late-night study snack: Any kind of chocolate
Dreams of a coffee date with: Michael Jackson
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Curtis Mayfield

Yangzi ZhaoYangzi Zhao
Hometown/country: Chengohi, China
Previous degrees: B.A. Sociology, SUNY Stony Brook
Chose Sociology for graduate school because: I want to study the social phenomena with my approach and to know this field with my explaining. Not just want to read other sociologists’ knowledge from books.
Favorite late-night study snack: Taro cake.
Dreams of a coffee date with: Virginia Woolf
First cassette/CD purchase: Sound track of the movie “The Piano”
Choice of music if trapped in the data lab: Sound track of the movie “The Piano

Undergraduate Spotlight: Christopher Quach (by Ann Horwitz)

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Chris Quach, a sophomore Sociology major from Germantown, MD.

Chris QuachWhat made you decide to declare as SOCY your major?
I came in as a soc major. I’ve always been interested in looking at the different ways in which people think and function, and the way groups and whole societies function…I knew coming in that Maryland had a reputable Sociology Department, and once I got in, it felt small enough that I felt very nurtured, that I was being taken care of by this Department…I felt like I could make a name for myself once I got here.

So you already knew, coming in, that you wanted to be a soc major. High school is pretty early to know the path you want to take!
I’m Asian and gay, and so growing up, in high school, I always had that intersection to deal with. And so I knew that coming here and majoring in Sociology, I wanted to do something that incorporated that. Continue reading

The Rationalization of Secondary Education by Clio Grillakis

This semester, the newsletter is highlighting the outstanding work of one undergraduate student, Clio Grillakis. A sophomore Anthropology and Art History double major, Clio took Lester Andrist’s SOCY 100 course in Fall 2011. This piece is a revision of an assigned essay she wrote on rationalization and McDonaldization in the United States.

Clio Grillakis
Whether we know it or not, we are part of a social structure that, while allowing certain opportunities, systematically enacts restrictions and controls the flow of information. Everyone is a member of some bureaucracy that enables or constrains him or her in different ways. According to George Ritzer, a bureaucracy is composed of a hierarchy in which “people have certain responsibilities and must act in accord with rules, written regulations, and means of compulsion exercised by those who occupy higher-level positions.”[1]  Today’s bureaucracies often employ Max Weber’s concept of rationalization in an effort to establish the most efficient ways to achieve a given end.[2] Ritzer developed the term McDonaldization, which draws on the same principles as rationalization while emphasizing the presence of capitalism and efficiency in Western society, as evidenced by the huge corporation of McDonald’s.[3] A prevalent bureaucracy comes in the form of secondary education. Rationalization is present in secondary education as exhibited by individual high schools, the government, and companies’ efforts to make teaching and learning more efficient with required courses, GPAs, formulaic essay formats, standardized tests, and textbooks. Continue reading

Graduate Students and Our Furry Friends

Junie_dogLucia Lykke:
This is Junie, a rescue pit bull who thinks she is a lap dog. As you can see from her graduation hat, Junie is a scholar and enjoys having study dates with me at home. When she’s not reading feminist theory, Junie can usually be found flopped on her back, begging for belly rubs.



Meg Austin Smith:
This is Batman, our kitty, visiting our housemate’s computer.



Nathan Jurgenson:
Sociologists should aspire to be at least half as curious about the world as Empress Josephine.


Nicole DeLoatch:Ruby
I have three amazing fur babies: Gizmo is a long haired Chihuahua who loves his cat sisters. Ruby is the boss! She is an excellent hunter that knows just the right time to run out of the door, so that no one can catch her to stop her delinquent charades.  Autumn is the Gizmo(1)female version of Garfield. She loves to eat, and so incredibly sweet. They all help me get through long nights of reading and writing by laying directly on top of my laptop, chewing my papers, and deciding that my lap is the best place to lay down (especially when I have a great thought that needs to be articulated immediately).


Marek Posard: Here is a picture of my cat, Cali. For some reason, she is particularly fond of lying on Social Psychology Quarterly articles. As for the backstory, fellow grad student Amy Baxter found her as a kitten outside graduate hills during a big snow storm some years back. Both Amy and I are social psychologists- maybe that is why Cali sleeps  on my SPQ articles.

Teddy blanket bedJoanna Pepin:
Teddy is a 13 year old Toy Poodle. I’m not sure he helps me with graduate school so much, but he sure is happy that I’m at home reading a lot. While he has lots of quirky habits, my favorite habit of his is his insistence on wiping his feet on the front door rug when he comes in from outside.


Anya Galli:
Frankie is our 7-pound mini dachshund. When I work from home, she disrupts her daily schedule of marathon napping to keep my lap warm. Frankie enjoys riding with the car windows down, yoga, hiking, and watching her humans cook dinner.



Mark Gross:
Baxter the dog shows the leisure class how it’s done.



Sarah Wanenchak:
Sadie (bottom/left) and Evel (top/right). Sadie loves snuggling with absolutely everyone and the top of her head is the flattest ever. Evel is very bad and hungry and loud. They are best friends, obviously.


Bill Yagatich:
This is Drifter and Tiny.  They have been a large part of my staying sane while in grad school!  They give me a reason to go outside every once and a while and enjoy some fresh air.  Plus, they’re pretty cute!