Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

Three SMC students chosen for exclusive New York event

06/24/2019 - 10am

Three Southwestern Michigan College students will attend the American Sociological Association’s annual conference in New York City Aug. 8-13 with their instructor, Dr. Barbara Karwacinski, to present their research essays.

“I am so very proud of our students,” Alyssa Mast, AnnaJane Musser and Jacob Campbell. “They submitted their research essays for the ASA Honors Program competition last December,” Karwacinski said. “Theirs were chosen from more than 2,000 domestic and international student research essays to be presented at the ASA Honors Program. It is the highest honor for undergraduate sociology students as only 30 are invited to the ASA Honors Program every year.”

Karwacinski said her students write research essays every semester for her Sociology 201 class, but “this was the first time we submitted them for the ASA competition. We have amazing students here at SMC. Now it’s official: We have some of the best sociology students in the country.”

At the ASA annual meeting, Honors Program students present in a roundtable paper session and participate in workshops on careers and graduate school; take part in regular sessions and special events, including the Welcoming Party and presidential address; learn more about ASA programs, resources, sections, leadership and governance; and converse with sociologists representing both master’s and doctoral programs in the discipline. “By participating,” the ASA says, “Honors Program students develop long-lasting networks with other sociologists while their sponsoring departments get to ‘showcase’ their most outstanding majors.”

“The ability for undergraduate students to have this type of experience, with the College covering travel expenses, is a great example of what sets SMC apart,” added Dr. David Fleming, Vice President of Instruction.

“It has been a year of a lot of changes,” said Campbell, of Edwardsburg. In April, he presented a poster to the American Chemical Society in Orlando. He graduated from SMC in May and was considering studying biochemistry after being accepted by the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University and Alma College. He aspires to be a medical doctor conducting research.

Campbell’s essay is an autobiographical narrative highlighting different aspects of his educational experiences. “I haven’t been to NYC,” Campbell said. “It will be something very different to what I am used to. I’m interested in seeing the city in general. Just observing the different way of living will be yet another educational experience.”

Mast attended Lakeshore High School in Stevensville, but grew up in Baroda until she was 15, when she moved to Eau Claire with her father. At SMC she is studying elementary education, but criminal justice also interests her. “Hopefully, I will become an elementary school teacher and maybe even a police officer along my journey,” Mast said.

Mast’s 13-page research essay, “Following in Their Footsteps,” is about Generation Z behaviors changing due to parents’ addictions. “I explain the effects parental addiction has on Generation Z with facts and statistics and my own personal narrative as well,” she said. “Explaining challenges I dealt with and real-life experiences helped me not only write this paper, but helps the reader believe in my research.”

Musser, who received an award for three-dimensional design at April’s juried student art exhibition, is studying visual arts at SMC and expects to graduate next spring. She is originally from Elkhart, but lives in Vandalia. Musser researched the impact of both the sub and counter culture on Generation Y.

“In my paper,” she said, “I started with the early 1930s and ’40s, moving later from that era, which is the start of the counterculture as we are familiar with it today. My research attempts to discover both the causes and influences that helped to develop the counterculture and, in turn, how the counter and sub cultures affect history, such as the great hippie movement, including Woodstock and events that both preceded and followed that historic event. It is a very exciting honor to be able to go and I am thankful to have such an amazing instructor in Barbara, without whom I would never have managed to be selected for the ASA Honors Program.”