Let's get to know James...


Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

Major/Minor: Sociology Major


What inspired you to major in Sociology?

My background is multicultural and multiethnic, as I am part Hispanic, part African-American, and an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized tribe with a reservation straddling the U.S.-Mexican border. Growing up in this environment fueled my desire to relate to, and contextualize, my racial and ethnic identity through the lens of sociology.


What classes have you most enjoyed?

I have enjoyed all of my sociology classes which is a testament to all of the wonderful professors I have had the opportunity to learn from in the department. Some of the most impactful courses I took were SOC 458 (Soc of Education), SOC 354 (Law and Society), and SOC 379 (Sports, Politics, & Society). I would highly recommend any student to take these classes if they have the opportunity.


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

This past summer, I had the opportunity to see how effective advocacy could impact people’s lives as an intern at the Public Defender’s office in Washtenaw County, Michigan. For three semesters, I was a research assistant for Dr. Arland Thornton and Linda Young-Demarco in their "Social Change Among Native Americans" project. Through conducting extensive literature reviews and analyzing data from the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1819-1940, this experience gave me the confidence to work independently in my own research. I am now writing a sociology honors thesis on how attending college football games at U of M can impact students' sense of belonging.


How has Sociology helped you to understand the pandemics the U.S. is currently facing: COVID-19 and/or systemic racism?

Sociology has given me a lens to view how racial and socioeconomic inequality has directly impacted the experiences of marginalized groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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

After graduation, I plan on going to law school to become an effective legal advocate for marginalized individuals.


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

I would advise prospective sociology majors to take advantage of all the academic opportunities offered in the department by taking classes on a new topic, joining a research team, or even conducting your own research. The faculty here are leaders in their respective fields and you can learn so much from them through these new experiences.