A C I F I C L U T H E R A N U N I V E R S
I T Y
U M M E R 2 0 0 2
PLU's small sociology department
yields big success
By Drew Brown
Small Department, Big Success:(Back
row left to right) Sociology professors Dick Jobst, Joanna
Higginson, Kay McDade and Ann Leon-Guerrero. (Bottom row)
grads Katie Luther, Kristian Wiles, and LeAnne Jones.
PLU sends an extraordinary number
of sociology graduates to some of the most prestigious graduate
schools in the countrymany with lucrative scholarships.
The breadth of student success in the last few years is even more
impressive because the program has just five faculty members and
a little more than 20 students.
"The prestige of the programs
the students have been accepted to has been quite remarkable,"
said Dick Jobst, who has been a sociology professor at PLU since
PLU's sociology majors get plenty of real-world experience, along
with guidance from their professors.
Katie Luther '02 will join the Ph.D. program at the University
of California Riverside. She received a Dean's Fellowship. Her
most rewarding opportunity at PLU came with her recent collaboration
with professor Joanna Higginson. They received an S. Erving Severtson/Forest
Foundation Research Fellowship Award to research how incarcerated
women parent. To research, they spent time at the Washington Corrections
Center for Women in Purdy, Wash.
LeAnne Jones '02 won a full scholarship and an $11,000 stipend
to focus on nonprofit management and community development at
the University of Delaware.
Kristian Wiles '02 is considering offers from Delaware and Syracuse,
and also a Dean's Fellowship offer from UC Riverside. Wiles, who
developed his senior thesis on homosexuality, and the five-stage
process of the "coming out," presented his findings
at the recent Pacific Sociological Association Conference in Vancouver,
B.C. Jones, Luther and other PLU students and faculty participated
in the conference with paper presentations and discussions.
It was just one of many opportunities they have had to grow as
sociologists over four years and one thing that sets PLU apart.
Students have already given conference presentations and done
fieldwork before graduation-an activity many sociology students
don't have until graduate school.
"Our goal is to give them concrete skills where they will
become true sociologists," Jobst said.
Onora Lien '00 is another success story. Not only is she currently
working on her Ph.D at Johns Hopkins, but she has vast field experience.
Within a week of Sept. 11, she was asked to join a four-person
rapid response research team for the Center for Civilian Biodefense
Strategies. They went to New York City to document the volunteer
efforts, public reaction and response to the World Trade Center
Higginson is impressed with the caliber of students.
"They have all had exceptional initiativethey knew
what they wanted, were focused and goal-oriented in making it
happen," she said.
Students credit their professors for their success.
"They teach as a unit, they all are willing to help students
to succeed," Jones said. "They also know good research,
and the people at these schools know who our professors are."
Wiles credits his faculty mentors for his success.
"Their knowledge and support have provided me with endless
opportunities," Wiles said.