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Undergraduate Program Alumni

Where are our alumni now?

We’ve asked some of our undergraduate program alumni to share what they are doing now and how they use sociology in their current positions.  From data analysts to program directors, our alumni are using their sociology training in a variety of fields.

Ruth Kleinmankleinman
Class of 2005
Job: Development Coordinator at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York, NY

I chose to study sociology because I always really enjoyed observing and learning about groups of people and trends.  I started as a psychology major at UB and when I began to better understand that psychology was more the study of individuals, and sociology was the study of multiple people, I chose to study both.  Sociology became my primary major and bigger interest, and found that there were messages relayed through text and film, which I enjoyed studying.

One of my most memorable experiences as a sociology major was working on my Advanced Honors Thesis, a voluntary project upon which I chose to embark in my junior year.  I worked with a few different professors and created Honors classes from mainstream ones to “up the ante” and ultimately performed additional research in the subject area of influences on female adolescent smoking of cigarettes to complete my paper.  I studied about how the media affects this, and how all learning and teaching truly starts within the family and from the home.

Upon graduating from UB, I began to work on college campuses, in the Jewish campus community and beyond.  I worked directly with students, and more occasionally with faculty, staff, administration, and community members.  I currently work in a religious institution with a thriving office staff and large membership.  Therefore, my sociology degree is being put to use almost every day in my work life, because I work with people who have their own personalities, behaviors, traits, trends, and ideas.  In my everyday life, I feel like I use my sociology background when I watch the news, see how social media is currently used in our society, and even how members of my family interact with one another.

I would recommend the sociology program to others because the study of the subject opens up or keeps open, many doors to the real world.  Most of us interact with other humans on a daily basis, and having a better understanding of people will allow you to have a better understanding of the world in terms of business, the global economy, what groups of people can accomplish, and even simple daily life.

yipTimothy Yip
Class of 2008
Job: Assistant Beacon Director at the Cross Island YMCA, New York, NY

As an incoming freshman I intended to study Business Administration.  I had to take a social science class for my general education requirement. I decided to take Sociology 101 to fulfill the requirement.  Even though that class was in Knox 20, a huge lecture hall, the professor made the class engaging and fun to learn about sociology.  From then on, I decided to declare my major in Sociology. As I moved along my college career, I took classes that interested me such as Sociology of Family, Urban Sociology and Medical Sociology, to name a few.

I used my sociology degree when I was in graduate school studying Higher and Post-Secondary Education at Arizona State University (ASU). During my practicum at ASU, I was working with incoming freshmen who were part of the Summer Bridge program.  Most of the students in the Summer Bridge program were first generation college students. The program helped them get acclimated to college level courses work load and help them access resources on campus to help them succeed in their college career. Every day at work I use my sociology degree.  I currently oversee an after-school site with a grade range from kindergarten to eighth grade and some high school programming. Many of my students and the families I work with come from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. On a daily basis I observe how students interact with each other in small or large groups or individually and with my staff.  I constantly look for students who might be potential leaders among their peers and try to use their leadership in a positive way.

Sociology is a very versatile degree. The UB Sociology Department offers a variety of interesting topics within Sociology. I enjoyed every single sociology class I took because it was an area I was interested in.

Anna Shoemaker
AnnaClass of 2009
Job: Manager of Program and Student Services at CAPA The Global Education Network

I chose to study sociology after taking a few introductory courses.  I wasn’t exactly sure what career I wanted to pursue after college, but through taking these courses I knew I was gaining really valuable and transferable skills that would prepare me for a range of career paths.

All of my sociology classes were engaging and challenging and the faculty created a welcoming learning environment.  My most memorable experience as a sociology student at UB, is when I chose to spend my last semester studying in London with a UB faculty member and a group of UB Sociology students.  That experience gave me the chance to put what I’d learned in the classroom into practice while living and working in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.  I’d never considered living or working abroad before that experience and it really opened my eyes to what would be possible after graduation.  I now live and work in London and am certain that had I not been encouraged by my professor to pursue that opportunity, I would not be where I am today!

After I graduated from UB, I moved to London to pursue an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy.  My courses in sociology gave me the foundation in critical thinking needed to pursue that degree.  In my current role, I work with people from all over the world and my background in sociology always feels present.

I would strongly recommend this program as the skills you gain make you well-rounded and prepared for a variety of careers.  The faculty are extremely supportive and enthusiastic which really left a positive impression on me.

Lori Brokbrok
Class of 2010
Job: Director of Operations at AmeriCorps St. Louis

I initially chose to major in sociology after taking an intro to sociology class in high school. I knew I wanted to major in a field that examined poverty/social inequalities and would have the potential to make a social impact.

I really loved my classes. I loved the content, reading and writing components (especially research). I also really enjoyed getting to know faculty members. They went out of their way to help me learn and grow, as a student and as a whole person. My favorite classes were Sociology of City Life and Sociological Theory (both classical and contemporary!)

I went on to get a Master of Social Work (MSW). My background in sociology definitely shapes the way I view and think about the world, and I think it helps me to have a better macro/mezzo perspective in the field of Social Work.

I had an overwhelmingly positive experience at UB. The department of sociology faculty really shaped my experience at UB and have been excellent mentors to me ever since! I think that majoring in sociology equips you with critical thinking and writing skills that will help you in any career, in addition to helping you define a more socially conscious worldview.

karenKaren E.
Class of 2011
Job: Data Analyst working in Marketing in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

I graduated from SUNY Buffalo in December 2011 with my Bachelors in Sociology and Economics.  Since then, I’ve graduated with a Masters in Demography and Sociology from Pennsylvania State University before moving abroad with my partner last year.

At the time, I chose sociology as I enjoyed the central questions at the heart of sociology that allowed me to dive into the context surrounding decisions, rather than the decisions itself.  Similarly, I liked how sociology taught me about other people and cultures.

My most memorable experiences involved collaborating with a faculty member doing research on Japanese families as well as doing an independent project under another professor’s guidance. I already enjoyed learning about statistics, but doing real research showed me how much more I could do if I combined my love of exploring human behaviors and their contexts with a solid knowledge of statistics.  I’ve used my sociology degrees to pursue both these areas in my Masters and current work. I would recommend the UB Sociology program as the faculty in Sociology was always friendly, gave me opportunities that I could not find elsewhere at UB to pursue independent research, mentored me, and encouraged me to go further.

I think Sociology really complements a wide range of majors, including the “hard” sciences. There’s a high demand for people who are skilled in terms of the approaches used in the social sciences and methodology, statistics, and programming.   These areas are increasingly overlapping with each other in the Data Science world.  More generally, the critical thinking taught in Sociology and courses about cultural differences can be applied in a wide variety of contexts.  For prospective students considering Sociology as well as current students, I would encourage them to take additional statistics/data mining/methodology classes because understanding statistics opens up a lot of doors after graduation. I work a lot with Big Data and I definitely see this as an area that sociologists seem to excel within.

scottAshley Scott
Class of 2015
Job: Admissions Counselor, UB

I chose to study sociology because I was extremely interested in the courses the department offered. The course titles and their descriptions were exactly what I was looking for while pursuing my undergraduate degree. I also chose to study sociology because I knew from the start, as a freshman, that I would want to continue on to graduate school in the future, and this degree program provided me with the necessary skill set to be successful in a wide variety of graduate programs and professional careers.

My most memorable experience as a sociology major was being able to study abroad, alongside with a distinguished faculty member and a small cohort of UB undergrads. Another memorable experience as a sociology major was being able to present in a classroom setting; I truly enjoy speaking in front of others, having important discussions and I believe that when information is taught or presented, it is also being learned at an accelerated level. Within the sociology department here at the University at Buffalo, students are able to interact with faculty every day, which enhances learning abilities, comfort within the classroom, and being able to better understand the material that is being taught.

The knowledge and experiences I was able to take away from my sociology degree are used every single day. My degree allowed me to perceive the world we live in today in many different scopes and this has helped me in my professional career. For example, being an admissions counselor, we take a holistic approach when reviewing prospective students’ applications. As a team we take everything into account when making a decision and my sociology background has helped me become very relatable to students from various backgrounds.

I would recommend this program to others because I believe that a college degree should be a reflection of who you are as a person and a reflection of where you want to go in life. A sociology degree provides all students with the necessary skills to pursue a wide variety of graduate programs and/or professional careers. I am confident that when a student graduates with a sociology degree, they are able to see the world, and our societies within, from many different perspectives and bring about positive social change.

An alumnus of our BA program in Singapore, Valencia Lim, was featured in an article in the Straits Times!  You can read it here.