Helping students to discover their potential and to realize their dreams are what the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is all about.  Choosing a major and taking classes is only part of that effort, but for many students, it's the opportunity to work closely with the faculty that makes the difference.To get an education and not just a degree, you’ll want to take advantage of the special opportunities that Sociology and Anthropology has to offer too,  such as directed studies, participation in research projects or maybe an individually created program.

Check out these examples of students taking advantage of the personalized learning opportunities that Sociology and Anthropology offers and imagine what you could do too.  If you have a special idea for your own situation, why not talk with an instructor or advisor in the department about it now?

Emily Perdue Investigates Poverty and Child Neglect


Emily Perdue s a Sociology major and a participant in the McNair Scholars Program.  One of her passions is childhood poverty, particularly the issue of poverty and child neglect. How do and how should child protective service agencies respond when economically deprived parents cannot provide for their children? Is poverty alone grounds for child neglect and removal of children? 

Emily is not just reading about the issue or writing a term paper, she’s conducting her own original research study on the topic under the direction of Dr. Tim Hilton, an Associate Professor of Social Work in the department.  Emily has been conducting audio-recorded interviews with parents, child protective service workers and Department of Human Services county directors.  She then analyzes the data using a sophisticated qualitative data analysis software program, NVivo.  Her project not only helps her learn the skills of a sociologist, but has the potential to influence social welfare policy planning.


From Prison to the Reservation: Joe Masters Documents Societal Re-Entry Issues of Native American Prisoners


Joe Master is a 2012 NMU graduate with a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) degree.  He’s now enrolled as a Buder Scholar in one of the top MSW programs in the country, George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.  Joe would be the first to tell you that when he was an eighteen year-old, the very thought of graduating from college, much less being a researcher and graduate school bound, was an impossible dream.  Growing up in a Native American home, having his own brush with the law, and earning a living as a long haul truck driver seem an unlikely route to college success.  But Joe came to NMU, found support through the Center for Native American Studies and excelled in the Social Work Program. 

Like Emily, Joe has been a McNair Scholar.  He completed a qualitative research study highlighting the special challenges faced by Native Americans exiting prison and attempting to return to the reservation.  Under the guidance of Dr. Tim Hilton, Joe completed over fifteen in-depth interviews, analyzed the data and presented his findings at a McNair Scholar program at UC  Berkeley.  Based on his work, he and Dr. Hilton have been invited to write a book chapter.  Working closely with a faculty mentor  helped launch Joe on a professional career that seemed totally out of reach a few years ago.




Directed Study Internship Opens Doors to New Career


BSW graduate Nichole Messer knew that she wanted to work in the field of aging, and social work was a logical choice for her major.  She completed the curriculum and did her  required 400 clock hour field placement internship at the Marquette Senior Center where she was offered employment as a social worker upon graduation.  That would be a success story in and of itself, but there’s a lot more.  Nicole worked closely with Social Work professor Pish Cianciolo, whose expertise is social policy and whose passion is gerontology.  Dr. Cianciolo helped Nicole carry out a directed study internship with United Way of Marquette County in which she helped United Way conduct reviews for six programs to which it provided funds for in 2010 -2011. Nicole presented her work to approximately 20 United Way board members about these program reviews. 

Coupled with her BSW education, this special experience resulted in a change of plans for Nicole.  She was accepted into the Advanced Standing MSW program at University of Michigan, with a concentration in Aging Families and Societies, and will also be pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Helping to make this advanced education attainable are two notable scholarships to attend U of M. One is the School of Social Work’s Michigan Scholarship for $6,000, awarded for academic performance and financial need. The second one is the School of Social Work Geriatric Scholarship for $20,000, which is given based on academic performance, experience working with older adults, and the desire to pursue career choices within gerontological social work.