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Sociology Opportunities for Undergraduate Leaders (SOUL)

SOUL is the first department-level leadership program for first-generation college students at the University of Michigan. In Sociology, we recognize that first-generation college students at the University of Michigan face social, academic, and financial challenges. We also find that such students possess a unique set of qualifications and capabilities: curiosity, conscientiousness, persistence, risk-taking – in a word, grit. These are the characteristics of leaders. The Department of Sociology has created a program designed to cultivate and support our first-generation leaders in Sociology.

Members of the next SOUL cohort will receive the following opportunities:

  •  A position as a Research Assistant for the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI) and Department of Sociology ($15/hr). Conduct research on the needs of our first-generation majors—and help design solutions that respond to those needs.
  • Paid attendance at the BLI’s seven-week Leadership Lab (a hands-on, interactive workshop specially designed to help students interested in developing leadership skills) and all BLI special events. 
  • Access to BLI’s Capstone Experience - $10,000 plus alumni advice in developing and implementing a fresh idea.
  • Access to funding for summer opportunities, such as internships and summer abroad experiences.
  • A 2-credit Sociology class open only to SOUL participants designed to discuss issues of class stratification and social mobility, as well as hone professionalization skills.
  • Up to two hours a week of personalized tutoring for any required Sociology class.
  • A peer mentor (a first-generation graduate student) who can help navigate the challenges of balancing university and family life.

Who is eligible for SOUL?

To apply, you must:

1. Be a Sociology major OR declare before applying

2. Be a first-generation college student (meaning that neither one of your parents has a four-year college degree)

Why should you join SOUL?

This is a unique resume-building opportunity, a potentially transformative personal experience, and a chance to participate in the formation of an innovative program for first-generation college students at the University of Michigan. 

This is a rare opportunity and the Department of Sociology encourages you, in the strongest possible terms, to seize it.

How do you apply?

All first-generation Sociology majors are considered for SOUL.

We are looking for students who want to be leaders in their communities, who view themselves as trailblazers, and/or who believe they have qualities that set them apart in some important way from students at the University of Michigan. 

The application deadline is May 31, 2020; students selected for the 2020-2021 cohort will be notified thereafter. 

If you have questions, please contact Matt Sullivan (Director of SOUL) at