Let's get to know Ella...

Hometown: Big Rapids, Michigan

Major/Minor: Sociology Major


What inspired you to major in Sociology?

Several factors influenced my decision to major in Sociology. When I was in high school, I completed several dual enrollment courses, including Introductory Sociology. My professor and the class were truly unique, and fundamentally shifted my academic perspective. For the first time, I felt like I was becoming an integrated student and person. Learning about Sociology felt like re-learning my native language, and it provided me with a lens through which I could finally articulate and explain the origins of my scholarly interests. Specifically, Sociology made (and makes) it feel possible to dismantle even the most legitimate-seeming structures of power in our society, and reimagine their purpose and function to create a better future.


What classes have you most enjoyed?

SOC 346 Sociology of the Body (Dr. Paige Sweet), and SOC 498 Senior Honors Thesis Proposal Writing (Dr. Maggie Frye) have definitely been my favorites thus far! Sociology of the Body with Dr. Sweet changed my life, and made me realize what I am interested in studying through my thesis project! Dr. Frye's support throughout the senior honors thesis course sequence, and especially when we started together in SOC 498 (Proposal Writing) has been incredible. Both of these classes have challenged me to grow as a student, writer, and critical scholar in general; giving me the tools to test the boundaries of my own abilities and understanding through sociological thought. 


Have you participated in undergraduate research, fieldwork, or an internship experience?

Yes! During the Fall 2022 semester, I started working for PhD Candidate Erin McAuliffe on her dissertation entitled, "Interpreting the “Best Interest” of the Child: Refuge-Seeking Youth at the Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare." Over the past year, I've had several opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the project as a research assistant. I have helped with data analysis, crafted theoretical conceptualizations, resolved methodological challenges, and so much more. Not only have I learned an incredible amount about the substantive sociological issues related to the project itself (i.e. immigration policy, state and federal judicial procedure, public policy, child welfare, etc.), but Erin has also taught me so much about the empirical process-- which has helped immensely with my own research!


What do you hope to do after graduating from the University of Michigan?

After graduating from Michigan, I hope to attend law school and subsequently or concurrently complete a PhD in Sociology. I believe a JD and PhD in Sociology is a powerful combination that would allow me to affect and advocate for the type of structural, socio-legal change I hope to be a part of in the future. Before this, however, I am going to spend a year working at the law firm where I have been a legal assistant and research clerk during the past two summers, to gain some additional experience before pursuing my JD.


Do you have advice for prospective Soc majors in this moment?

Choose Sociology! The discipline is incredibly diverse, and there is so much room to explore your academic interests-- and discover new ones. Sociology is unique, however, because these interests translate directly into real, substantive action that can change the world. Sociological thought and research provides a framework for asking the questions that matter; empowering you to seek truth in the face of overwhelming power, injustice, and inequality. Sociology not only makes it possible to theorize a better world, but to actually create one, in practice.