Alumni Testimonials

Abdullah F. Alrebh, 2014, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Grand Valley State University

“My graduate training at MSU gave me the major tools for being a successful faculty member.  The community of sociology department works as a team, and a graduate student can easily seek help from any faculty member with no hesitation.  The flexibility of letting grad students to develop their projects and choose their committee members is incredible.  The financial support for participating in academic conferences was one of the keys of opening my eyes to the wider academic world, getting experience in public speaking, and making good connections.  I am grateful to be an alumnus to this program.”


Crystal Eddins, 2017, Assistant Professor, Department of Africana Studies, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

“My experience with the MSU Department of Sociology, with invaluable support from faculty, staff, and my peers, prepared me to successfully enter the academic job market as a newly-minted PhD.  I improved my methodological skills and theoretical knowledge, gained teaching experience, and developed an interdisciplinary perspective in pursuing a dual degree.  I am proud to be an alum of MSU Sociology!”


Breanne Grace, 2013, Associate Professor and Faculty Principal of Maxcy College, University of South Carolina

“My graduate training at MSU was shaped by the exceptional programs in international sociology and the sociology of migration and the unique interdisciplinary area studies and linguistic programs through MSU’s Africa and development-centered Title VI centers.  My work continues to be shaped by the interdisciplinary collaborative relationships I established during my time at MSU and the exceptional mentoring that I received—and continue to receive.”


Ryan Gunderson, 2014, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, Miami University

“If you’re searching for a sociology graduate program that not only offers sturdy foundations in sociological theory and research methods, but also allows you to chart an interdisciplinary path, including the option of taking courses in the biological and physical sciences, I strongly recommend MSU Sociology.  For those interested in human relations with the environment or animals, MSU Sociology has the largest cluster of well-known environmental sociologists in the world and a pioneering animal studies program.  Faculty members actively pursue research collaborations with graduate students and are engaged advisors.  I have the fondest memories of my time in East Lansing and am grateful to the Department of Sociology.”


Shannon Shen, 2018, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Texas A&M University – San Antonio

“I am so grateful for my time at MSU!  The Department of Sociology provided rigorous graduate training along with flexibility for each student to mold their studies to fit their interests.  The most memorable aspect of graduate school are the relationships I developed with my peers, the faculty, and the staff.  It was a very supportive community that offered hands-on teaching and research experience.  I owe my career to the guidance, encouragement, and opportunities that my mentors provided.”


Cameron T. Whitley, 2017, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Western Washington University

“My graduate training provided a solid foundation in sociology, while also encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration.  It is not an exaggeration to say that this training has been fundamental to my career trajectory. The graduate program offers the breadth and depth needed to successfully address complex social problems as a scholar and advocate.  Through numerous opportunities to work with faculty within sociology and other departments, I graduated with over a dozen publications and worked with four dozen coauthors from an array of disciplines.  This created an instant network that has been vital to beginning a career as a faculty member.”


Yan-Liang (Jerry) Yu, 2016, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology, Howard University

“The sociology graduate program at MSU provides professional sociological training and empower graduate students to develop our research and teaching interests with consistent faculty support.  The program laid a solid theoretical and methodological foundation for my research career.  My graduate training prepared me for a prominent postdoctoral position at the Columbia University Aging Center, which then led to a tenure-track position at Howard University.  It is a stimulating environment where you can learn and thrive.”


Yan Zhang, 2021, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The training and mentorship I received in MSU Sociology helped me in so many ways.  The best part of the program is the collaborative environment that will benefit us long into our academic career.  The program offered me faculty support that has allowed me to transition from a graduate student into an independent researcher who is capable of publishing papers.  Because of this support, I have the confidence to engage senior-level faculty in other settings, such as conferences and at my new place of employment.  Besides the publication process, I also gained knowledge of substantive areas that I continue to study today, such as presentation skills, grant writing, and quantitative methods.  Moreover, when I served as the coordinator for the Family and Population Health lab, I enriched my administrative skills because I was charged with scheduling lab meetings, making decisions relating to meeting agendas, and communicating with our members.”


 Chuntian Lu, 2012, Professor, Department of Sociology, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China

“The Department of Sociology at MSU has left me many happy memories. There, I not only received strict academic training in sociological theories and methods, but also met many excellent professors.  They are my teachers in the study as well as my friends in the daily life.  As a student from China, I feel at home in MSU’s big family.  I miss MSU very much.  I have been looking forward to the opportunity to return to MSU to visit the places I have studied and meet those friends.  With the control of COVID-19 pandemic, I hope this wish can be realized in the near future.”


Seung-won (Emily) Choi, 2019, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Texas Tech University

“My graduate education at MSU Sociology was truly rewarding. The Sociology PhD program at MSU offers students rigorous training, intellectual challenges, and full of support and guidance as a community. I benefited tremendously from great mentorships and active collaborations with faculty members for my academic career. I am grateful to the MSU Sociology program for every opportunity I received for my professional and personal growth.”


Mellissa Wright, 2019, Instructor of Sociology, Alma College

“I was trying to capture in a succinct professional soundbyte the multidimensional experience I had at MSU and the truly profound effect it has had on me both professionally and personally. The collaborative and supportive culture of MSU allowed me to graduate successfully. It was the academics, the exposure to applied sociological works and the critiques of minority, feminists, queer, and global south scholars that completely blew open my sociological imagination. The world became so much more multifaceted and complex because our faculty included an incredible diversity of scholarship in our courses and their research. I really do use critical race theory, feminist theory, intersectionality, foucault and many other theories and perspective outside of mainstream theories in all of my sociology courses (distilled down to the level of the course) because the diversity of critique and thought MSU provided me has been so profoundly invaluable. As MSU pushed me, I push my students theoretically by exposing them to the array of traditional theories, as well as the full "global buffet of theoretical perspectives." Like my experience, I want them to have the opportunity to develop an increasingly complex sociological worldview. MSU is truly a globally minded university and our department is so student centered and collaborative. I am aware not all universities have such a culture and openness so these elements of my graduate experience I appreciate the most.”


Tracy Brower, 2011, Author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work and Bring Work to Life, contributor to and Principal, Applied Research + Consulting, Steelcase

“My experience obtaining my PhD with the MSU sociology department was excellent. Professors were experts in their fields and passionate about imparting their knowledge. The program was rigorous, research-based and substantive. It also provided for both breadth and depth in the field. I also had the opportunity to shape my program in the way that was most meaningful for me, with learning which built over time and ultimately led to my first book, Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work. The graduate training at MSU contributed significantly to my credibility and career development.”


Juan José Bustamante, 2011, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Arkansas

“As a Big Ten institution graduate—Michigan State University—I take so much pride of the initiative efforts in the department of sociology, then-led by Dr. Steven Gold, to diversify the Ph.D. program. I belong to a diverse cohort of talented students willing to be trained as the next generation of sociology scholars who benefitted from personal mentorship and coaching. As a POC student from the southwest, I felt clueless and confused about my new role as graduate student in Michigan State. But the faculty and staff with whom I worked not only in the sociology program, but also in the Julian Samora Research Center, was so helpful in providing me a sense of direction. More importantly, the invaluable assistance I received from Dr. Steven Gold provided me the necessary tools to navigate the hurdles of completing successfully the Ph.D. program.”


Christopher Oliver, 2008, Senior Professor of Practice, Sociology, Environmental Studies, The City, Culture, and Community Program and Urban Studies, and Jill H. and Avram A. Glazer Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Tulane University

“My graduate experience in Sociology at Michigan State was one of tremendous intellectual growth, challenging coursework and projects, great mentorship, and incredible peer relationships. The department's topical area strengths and training in both qualitative and qualitative methods, as well as the broader opportunities beyond the department, provided me with both research and instructional experiences to prepare me for my employment in a research university. Many of us, both within my cohort as well as those who entered the years before and after, still remain as colleagues and friends over a decade or more since we finished our degrees.”


John Girdwood, 2016, Instructor and Program Manager, University of Michigan-Flint

“MSU Sociology gave me an opportunity like no other and I am forever indebted to the faculty, grad secretary, and peers who supported me through my journey.  My advisor gave me the guidance to explore new methods and the freedom to create the type of research that propelled my growth.  I simultaneously felt welcomed and challenged. My committee continues to support me to this day on my personal journey long after graduation.  MSU Sociology helped me see the world through a different lens and I use the skills I acquired at MSU in my current work leading the next generation of scholars.”