Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

2022 Graduates


Lauren Bartholomew

Re-Introducing the Right to Vote: Invisible Barriers Faced by Formerly Incarcerated Citizens

Incarceration is the dark underbelly of the American criminal justice system; a system which is supposed to make citizens feel safer and free to traverse their worlds without fear, incarceration in practice is a demobilizing and dehumanizing experience for everyone involved. When it comes to the political sphere, spending time in jail and prison has extreme effects on people’s will and ability to vote, even when they sustain the right to do so. This thesis argues that people have been abandoned by their representatives and government, and as a result, their political efforts decrease. As a result, in states which allow people to vote after incarceration, organizations and nonprofits face a special task of mobilizing a population of potential voters who have many reasons not to. The interviews conducted in this thesis with figures within organizations offer insight to the best motivators and educators towards voting amongst formerly incarcerated people. This paper specifically focuses on organizers in order to maintain a viewpoint which is focused on formerly incarcerated people, but which can look past individual circumstances to identify trends within the population. In doing so, this paper identifies three main categories of ‘legal’ disenfranchisement and offers suggestions to overcoming them: lack of resources, educational shortcomings, and civic apathy.

Advisor: Rebecca Christensen

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Major/Minor: Sociology (Law, Justice, and Social Change sub-major)

Skills developed through Honors: In my experience in the Honors Programs, I learned more than ever the skills of perseverance and dedication. It resulted in a final product that I was immensely proud of and which I felt was the most fulfilling thing I have accomplished in college. I was able to independently work and also discuss and get feedback on the nuances of a subject which I am extremely passionate about. I feel that it prepared me for a future of independence and self-motivation.

Future plans: After graduating, I will be spending some time at home with my family, before leaving for Europe, where I will be wandering and exploring life as an individual. I will be job searching while I am there, but in the meantime, I plan on spending time in the sun, baking, painting, and reading. I hope to return to academic life and perhaps graduate school in the future, but for now I am investing in growth experiences outside of college.


Qingyi Cai

Cross-Border (Im)Mobility, Self-Identification, and Future Plans of Educational Migrants during theGlobal Pandemic

Scholars of educational migration have documented the motivations of educational migrants and benefits they got out of cross-border education, such as increased spatial mobility, the accumulation of cultural capital, the acquisition of cosmopolitan competencies, and the reinforcement of social privilege. This study expands the existing literature by examining the educational migration experience during the global pandemic that has called into question well-established findings about cross-border mobility, cosmopolitanism, identity, and the influence of significant others in educational migration. Through interviews with sixteen Chinese undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, this study explores their decisions on spatial mobility, their thoughts on their identity, and the changes in their post-graduation plans over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing especially on how they navigated major changes in policies and political climates, such as travel bans, visa-policy changes, and the rise of Anti-Asian sentiments. This paper analyzes how these students, caught between rising nationalism and geopolitical tensions between China and the U.S., try to redefine their relationships with their family, home country, and host country, trying to avoid double-stigmatization derived from “Anti-Asian sentiments” in the U.S. and “Anti-globalism” in China. This paper further shows how identifying themselves primarily as “foreigners” hasparadoxically helped them maintain their initial post-graduation plan in the U.S. despite the changes in policy and political environments. Future research can expand beyond educational migration and the rise of nationalism by incorporating migrants from non-one-child households and in larger metropolitan areas of the United State.

Advisor: Jaeeun Kim

Hometown: Wuhan, Hubei

Major/Minor: Sociology Major (Health and Medicine subplan) and Statistics Major

Skills developed through Honors: This long journey in the Honors Program taught me to break down large task into smaller daily work and to work step-by-step with patience. I also learned to live with stress and motivate myself by recognizing and celebrating my stages of progress.

Future plans: I will be pursuing an MPH in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan starting in August this year, so continue to go blue :).


Clarisse Jorah

Indigenous Responses to Environmental Harm in the United States, Australia, Canada, and NewZealand: the Reformist and Revolutionary Positions

This thesis looks at indigenous responses to environmental harm in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The purpose of this research project was to find differences in responses to environmental harm and explore what factors shape those differences. This inductive, cross-national comparison utilizes document research, drawing from roughly 60documents collected online and predominantly published by indigenous people themselves. Two salient differences exist: some people adopt more revolutionary positions, while some showcase more reformist positions. The most amount of documents showcasing revolutionary approaches are from the United States, with Canada coming in second. Australia and New Zealand only show examples of reformist approaches. There are several key differences between the United States and the other three countries that may be shaping why more revolutionary approaches have been found in the United States: First, the United States boasts a legacy of revolutionary social movements that have galvanized other social movements around the world, including theenvironmental movement. The proximity to these revolutionary social movements in both geographical space and currently relevant historical imprints may be contributing to environmental protestors’ revolutionary approaches, as supported by existing literature and the mentions of past social movements in the documents. Second, documents from Canada,Australia, and New Zealand show examples of the state bringing an environmental movement/protest’s goals to fruition, while zero documents from the United States show as much, indicating that the U.S. may have more reasons to adopt more radical or revolutionary approaches, as desired outcomes of protesting and advocacy are seldom being met.

Advisor: Jonah Stuart Brundage


Ashwina Lewis

The Barriers to Rising Out of Homelessnessin Ann Arbor, Michigan

There is an ever-growing body of research about barriers to rising out of homelessness, but none have studied a city like Ann Arbor, Michigan, a city that is known for its resources for those struggling with poverty and homelessness. My findings suggest that even in a city with a wide-ranging, interconnected system of social services, they are met with an equally, if not more expansive, network of interconnected, compounding barriers to accessing these resources. Limited housing options due to skyrocketing rent prices worsened by a dearth of low-income housing along with barriers to accessing social services that are desperately needed; such as supplemental income, disability insurance, housing vouchers, and substance abuse treatment; are keeping unhoused people unhoused due to a criminal record, a lack of vital documents, a lack of income, or just because there is not enough to go around.

Advisors: Rebecca Christensen & Alexandra Murphy

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Major/Minor: Sociology and minor in Spanish

Skills developed through Honors: The Honors program taught me how to take a more holistic view when approaching research. Not only did I learn how to do sociological research, but I learned how to choose the right question and data methods, how to analyze raw data and how to put it all together. It also taught me how to pace myself and stay on track during an independent, long term project.

Future plans: I plan to be a Digital Intern with USA Today through the Dow Jones News Fund!


Antonina Nedoss

“Wine Moms” and Violent Dads: Social Expectations and the Experiences of Children of Alcoholics

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), colloquially referred to as alcoholism, is a disease that currently impacts more than 14.5 million Americans. Alcoholism is commonly referred to as a family disease, both because of its genetic components and because of its impact on family members of those living with AUD. It is estimated that there are 28.6 million children of alcoholics (COAs) in the United States, including those over 18. Research on COAs has established a link between having a parent or caregiver with AUD and diminished psychosocial functioning in adulthood. Little research, however, has examined identity formation in COAs and how this identity shapes experiences in a college context. This research asks How does the process of identity formation in children of alcoholics (COAs) shape their college experience and life outcomes? Through interviews with 15 COAs, this study argues that COA identity formation is contingent on how COAs situate themselves within cultural narratives of substance abuse, which rely on gendered, classed, and racialized stereotypes. This identity then shapes the college experience in ways that matter both for the experience itself and overall life outcomes, including how COAs navigate alcohol use, relationships with others, personal development, and career choices. This research expands the sociological understanding of what it means to be a COA, and why this identity matters in an institutional setting where drinking is culturally prevalent.

Advisor: Elizabeth Armstrong

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Major/Minor: Sociology (Law, Justice, and Social Change) and Political Science

Skills developed through Honors: I learned so much about conducting interview research and finding broader social meaning in individual stories. I also learned how to adapt when things go wrong, how to make my own work better by listening to feedback from others, and I definitely refined my time management skills!

Future plans: Next year, I'll be taking a gap year and working as the Vice President of Operations for the Ann Arbor Inter-Cooperative Council. Then, I am attending the University of Chicago to pursue a Master of Social Work!


Jade Parker

Ecology and Functions of Social Ties inGirl Child Marriage

This study was designed to assess the impact that social ties have on young girl’s experiences of girl child marriage, a practice that is increasingly recognized as a key roadblock to global health, development, and gender equality. Current literature places emphasis on examining the causes of girl child marriage whereas this work focuses on the perspective of girls and the exchanges they engage in with various social actors. The method used in this study is content analysis and the sample size is N=38. The impact of social ties was determined by the ‘ecology’ of ties and their resulting function(s). Data originates from first and secondary sources in databases such as ProQuest and the University of Michigan library. The results of the study find that the ecology of social ties is generally diverse in its composition and that ties exhibit a temporal nature that is subject to evolution over time. The functions of ties are twofold: 1) a controlling force; and 2) a source of sustenance and/or survival. Control is exerted over girls by means of abuse, deceit, and actors assuming authority over her as a decision maker. The implications of this study suggest that positive connections to authority can provide means of exiting a marriage. Furthermore, policy interventions that aim to reduce girl child marriage cannot solely focus on girls and expect to implement impactful changes within communities; more concentration must be placed on her network and the ties that assume authority over such decisions and proceedings of marriage.

Advisor: Yun Zhou

Hometown: Cadillac, Michigan

Major/Minor: Sociology, Spanish

Skills developed through Honors: This program challenged me in ways I never imagined. As a scholar, I have undoubtedly grown. The skills I am most proud of having developed, however, are those that I find myself employing in everyday life: 1) self control and discipline; 2) grace and compassion; 3) accountability; 4) integrity; 5) stress management and self care; and lastly 6) creativity.

Future plans: I will be taking a TEFL certification course this summer through the International TEFL Academy. With this certification, I will be qualified to teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world. As such, I will be moving to Barranquilla, Colombia for the foreseeable future. If teaching is something that I fall in love with, I would be interested in pursuing a masters in education. If not, I would like to go for speech language pathology (SLP) and become a bilingual SLP.


Eva Russa

Gender, Social Behavior, and Stress Over Social Behavior in the COVID Era

Many studies over the past 2 years have investigated the gendered impact of the pandemic on people in the workplace and within families. However, little research has explored the gendered implications of the pandemic in emerging adults or gendered stress regarding personal social behavior during the pandemic. To investigate these questions, over 100 college students were surveyed about their social behavior and stress regarding their personal social behavior before and during the pandemic. Their responses were used to determine how social behavior varied by gender before and during the pandemic and how stress over one’s own social behavior varied by gender before and during the pandemic. Although women adjusted their social behavior similarly to men or more conservatively than men in response to the onset of the pandemic, women experienced a greater increase in guilt and discomfort across various social behaviors. I hypothesize that women’s greater increase in stress when partaking in social behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to men is due to women’s internalization of communal gender ideals, which suggest they should act in the best interest of the group and avoid socializing during the pandemic. I further argue that the gender divide in distress caused by one’s own social behavior demonstrates the impact that differing social and cultural pressures that men and women face can have, as described in literature on “doing gender” and literature ongender roles.

Advisor: Paige Sweet


Elizabeth Schriner

Chronic Health Conditions and the College Experience for University of Michigan Undergraduate Students

Past sociological research has examined how chronic illnesses and/or disabilities affect young adults’ lives. In the realm of higher education, support processes have been determined to be helpful for young adults navigating college. This project narrows in on the college experience to that of individuals with chronic health conditions, specifically those on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through interviews with 20 University of Michigan undergraduate students, this study examines college factors that impact the chronic health condition experience for students, sectioned into three main areas that shape students’ college experiences: social life, access to medical care, and academic life. It illustrates how the college environment creates unique contexts for undergraduate students with chronic health conditions, resulting in unique challenges, opportunities, and experiences. Within these areas, the type of health condition, utilization of on-campus resources, and presence of support systems account for differences in experiences among individuals, while the identity of having a chronic health condition presents consequences for students with chronic health conditions compared to those without. As such, this paper deepens the sociological understanding of higher education and chronic health condition as a salient identity, presenting implications for whether colleges equitably serve all students.

Advisor: Rachel Best

Hometown: Olivet, MI

Major/Minor: Majors: Sociology, Creative Writing & Literature; Minor: Asian Languages & Cultures

Skills developed through Honors: My thesis helped me learn how to take on a long-term project as well as how to structure a large piece of writing. It also taught me how to adopt a more independent role in pursuing research. I enjoyed the autonomy and proactive nature of writing a senior honors thesis, which was balanced with support and constructive feedback from my advisor and cohort coordinator.

Future plans: Following graduation, I will be moving to Wisconsin to begin my journey as a project manager for Epic Systems, a software company that works with electronic health records. I hope to eventually work in health services research or another area in the realm of public health. I'd also love to continue writing and eventually become a published author!


John Stellard

Low Food Access and Food Deserts:Detroit’s Uneven Development

Using interview data from 17 Detroit residents, this study explores the designation of census tracts in Detroit as “low food access” by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The data suggests that while food accessibility is an important issue to interviewees in low access census tracts, they view food access conflicts as a mere symptom of larger, structural issues related to Detroit’s development. Interviewees propose that their residential areas have been neglected in recent years while midtown and downtown areas have experienced heavy development. For interviewees, issues related to food access exemplify the disparities between their residential communities and gentrified areas that are being propped up as a “comeback of Detroit.”

Advisor: Alexandra Murphy

Hometown: Ferndale, Michigan

Major/Minor: Major- Sociology Subplan- Health and Medicine

Skills developed through Honors: I am capable of researching and exploring any topic of interest to me, as sociology has given me the tools to be effective when accessing information, evidence, or historical details. Furthermore, I feel that I have gained a thoughtful perspective that enables me to think critically about various topics, rather than just creating a biased opinion.

Future plans: I will be working as a Project Manager for Epic Systems, a company that specializes in healthcare software. As a project manager I will be a part of the implementation process for clinics, hospitals, and health systems that choose to use Epic's software.


Rebecca Wong

The Impact of Social Identity on Decision-making Behaviors after Sexual Assault Experiences

Every 68 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted, yet sexual harm continues to be the most underreported violent crime (DOJ, 2020). The effects of sexual assault have been studied extensively at the individual level, but there remains to be a gap in knowledge about how social identity, particularly marginalized social identities, affects a person’s post-assault decision-making. This research explores the role of social identity on a person’s disclosure, help-seeking, and justice-seeking behaviors using activities and a semi-structured interviewing method. Nineteen participants were interviewed using an inductive approach to allow participants to highlight which social identities were most salient to their experiences. The findings conclude that heterogeneous social identities create nuanced challenges that peers, service providers, and professionals supporting survivors are not always equipped to respond to. The one-size-fits-all approach to help and justice-seeking dissuades many survivors from using the resources available to them because they do not feel like they fit the profile of what a survivor ‘should’ present as. The findings confirm my hypothesis that race and gender play major roles in the operationalization of power in people’s lives, which are exacerbated in the circumstances of sexual assault. However, a surprising finding revealed that age plays a particularly significant role, which may be reflective of my sample which included participants ages 19-29, who matured in the #MeToo era, a contemporary movement about the transparency around sexual assault and harassment. This project focuses on social identity in broad strokes, highlighting how it affects peer support, interactions with service providers, and justice-seeking avenues. This study highlights the role of social identity in post-assault decision-making and raises new unexplored questions that merit further exploration. The findings provide a roadmap for future directions and the research instrument developed has the potential to be adapted to specific populations of interest.

Advisor: Sandra Levitsky

Hometown: Los Altos, California

Major/Minor: Sociology, QMSS

Skills developed through Honors: Critical thinking & research

Future plans: Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan (Policy and Political Social Work). Spending the summer in DC working on Capitol Hill in Anna Eshoo's (D-18-CA) office