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Department ofSociology


Sociology seniors receiving the academic excellence award

Sociology seniors receiving the academic excellence award

Sociology Capstones Highlights 2022

Congrats to our Seniors on their scholarship!

In this year’s SOC 122 capstone, students explored their interests in a number of captivating research papers. Andre Joseph Carbajal, one of our multiple senior award winners, wrote “The Problems in Diversity and Inclusion: Race and Gender Representation in Tech Roles in Silicon Valley Companies.” In this work he examines the current state of representation of three main underrepresented groups such as Latinos, African Americans, and women in technology roles in Silicon Valley-based technology companies. The research also looked at the relationships Employee Resource Groups, a recently developed D&I initiative enacted, have with Diversity and Inclusion numbers of a select sample of Silicon Valley-based technology companies or if they have even been utilized to increase representation numbers for the three underrepresented groups in technology roles. The study used applied research methods including qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings showed that representation was consistent for each respective groups across the tech sector and that Employee Resource Groups have not been determined to have an impact on D&I numbers.

Stellar student Raul Orellana explored disability-forward housing in his paper “The Kelsey’s Housing Design Standards for Accessibility and Inclusion: A Marketing and Policy Recommendation for Implementation.” The Kelsey, a disability-forward housing and advocacy non-profit organization, created The Housing Design Standards for Accessibility and Inclusion to advance and make inclusion the norm in the housing industry. The purpose of my Capstone paper is to propose a policy and marketing strategy for The Kelsey, so they may gain wider acceptance of their innovative design standards as well as highlight the need for affordable, accessible housing in the twenty-first century.

Molly Flood took a critical look at SCU’s problems with normalized sexual violence in her piece “The Dangerous ‘Wasn't Super Consensual’ Sexual Culture of Santa Clara University.” She explains that at the beginning of the fall quarter for the 2021/22 academic school year, there was a rise in stories and accounts of sexual assault, and a campus-wide discussion was set off about the sexual culture of Santa Clara University that allows these crimes to occur, exist, and go unaccounted. Therefore, the goal of this research project is to understand the nature, prevalence, and dynamics of sexual assaults occurring within the Santa Clara University community to inform programs and protocols that engage in creating a safe and healthy sexual culture and an informed process for holding offenders accountable that upholds justice and centers the experiences of survivors so they may more adequately heal.

Taylor Czasnojc explored gender disparities in the tech industry with her thesis “Gender Diversity in Technology Organizations.” Using a primarily qualitative, content analysis approach, her project looked at female representation in company published diversity data indexes and the alignment of quality initiatives in technology organizations. This research also observed if there were even greater representation gender disparities within male archetype job roles and how this was correlated with the level of diversity programming.

Jessica Hwang examines how young people use social media in her paper “Using Tik Tok as a Positive Influence: Providing Middle Schoolers Access to Mindfulness Curriculum and Practices.” The focus of this report was to assess how social media, specifically Tik Tok, can be used to impact middle schoolers’ access to mindfulness curriculum and practices. I collected data from Tik Tok by selecting videos that were under unique hashtags relevant to the topics of mindfulness and mental health. The central finding in the videos revealed an emphasis on mindfulness practices that are beneficial to youth. The vast majority of the videos selected for analysis were informative and age appropriate for middle school students, which demonstrates the applicability of this study in future classroom settings.

Vanessa Vanegas researches how patterns of residential segregation impact health disparities in her work “Socioeconomic and Racial Segregation in the City: COVID-19 Impacts in Chicago by ZIP codes.” Vanessa’s capstone project analyzed COVID-19 and its effects on Chicago ZIP codes from March 1, 2020 to October 24, 2021. Chicago is one of the largest populated cities in the U.S., with such a diverse population. However, historical and institutional policies have maintained racial segregation and poverty. This research discusses different racial majority ZIP codes and their trends in COVID-19 testing and death rates as well as the number of test sites in the area.

Diego Andres Ardila Romero explored the experiences of first generation students and professionals in his paper “Difference Between First-generation and Continuing-generation Professionals: An analysis of the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, follow up number three.” The purpose of this study was to identify how colleges can better support first-generation college students and first-generation professionals. In order to gauge areas of improvement, this study focused on finding differences between first-generation and continuing-generation professionals who had graduated from college through a secondary data analysis of the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, follow up number three.

Lindsey Moore explored how SCU can improve student voter engagement in her paper “The Student Perspective on the Effectiveness of Santa Clara University’s Strategies to Support Students With Voter Engagement.” This study uses quantitative data from a 2021 Survey designed by the researcher and compares it to data from the National Study of Learning and Voter Engagement. It also gets the students perspective on how SCU can supports its students from the qualitative data in the 2021 Survey.

Madison Hoffman wrote about the public health needs of one of the South Bay’s immigrant communities in her paper “Immigration Status as a Social Determinant of Health: An Analysis of East San José-Based Nonprofit Veggielution.” The purpose of this research project is to help Veggielution, a public health nonprofit located in East San José, better understand its clients and how to best serve and meet their needs. The goal is to identify the health-related consequences of immigration status and assess the success of current social policies, programs, and local organizations in being able to adequately meet the needs of impoverished immigrant communities. This project used data to examine various factors important for achieving good health including looking at health insurance coverage, reported frequency, quality, and location of health service utilization, prevalence of chronic conditions as well as investigated the relationship between fear and confusion in acting as a deterrent to receiving consistent, quality care.

Juan O'Neill examined the disparities between public and private schooling in Puerto Rico in his capstone “Disparities Within the Public School System in Puerto Rico: Public vs Private.” Juan’s capstone project also looks at the graduation rates of both sectors and how they equip their students for academic success in higher education.

Brooke Rose investigates how Jesuit campuses have responded to the growing climate crisis in her paper “Sustainability at Jesuit Institutions: How are We Teaching the Next Generation to Care for Our Common Home?” With an impending climate crisis, it is imperative that all institutions take steps towards sustainability. Jesuit values dictate a commitment to 'care for our common home,' but how are Jesuit colleges and universities actually responding to that call? Through a mixed methods analysis of the STARS reports of Jesuit institutions, we can see how well these schools are meeting sustainability standards in academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration.

Joshua Huizar also researches the practices of Jesuit campuses in his work “Comparative Study of Disabilities Resource Offices at Jesuit Institutions.” This capstone project focused on comparing the websites of disability resource offices at six Jesuit institutions to Santa Clara University's Office of Accessible Education to provide recommendations for ways to improve the office and its ability to serve students. In addition to recommendations made based on the findings, two best practices from universities not looked at in the study and one potential grant were identified and recommended. Finally, Joseph Hart researches the homeless populations in Santa Clara and Sacramento Counties in his paper “Homelessness in Northern California.” I

In this year’s SOC 121 course, Dr. Laura Robinson led our graduating seniors through their capstone research projects, many of which focused on SCU’s Miller Center. Project titles included “Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship: Impact of Fellowship on Vocational Discernment,” “Bringing the classroom to life: experiential learning and a path towards vocational discernment,” “The Benefits of The Miller Center Fellowship: A Qualitative Interpretation.” In these projects, students examined the vocational trajectories of scholarship recipients, and the benefits reported by students engaged with the center. See highlights below:

Emma Kemper’s research in “Bringing the classroom to life: experiential learning and a path towards vocational discernment” examines the positive impacts of the Miller Center Fellowship at Santa Clara University, an understudied program that fosters a powerful vocational discernment process for students. The analysis reveals how confidence, a search for meaning, and the ability to overcome adversity are catalysts for vocational discernment post-graduation. These three facets that enhance vocational discernment are learned from the intensive “real life” experiences that fellows gain in the field during the fellowship. This study seeks to understand the positive impacts of experiential learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. Findings from this study implore educators at Santa Clara University to expand opportunities for experiential learning to the broader student population to capitalize on the benefits of such a program.

Emma explains “I am a student at Santa Clara University, with a major in sociology and minors in entrepreneurship and political science. I have a passion for learning, and in my time at Santa Clara University I have had the opportunity to engage with sociology both professionally and academically. I am a research assistant for Professor Di in the sociology department which has allowed me to learn first-hand the methodology involved in conducting a study from start to finish. In addition, I worked as an Editorial Assistant for the Silicon Valley Sociological Review. In this role, I had the opportunity to read and edit student research articles, while collaborating with Professors Di and King to define best practices. These experiences allowed me to think more deeply about sociological topics and theories, how to conduct research, and how to summarize findings. This research article builds on this knowledge and passion for engaging with sociological topics.”

In “The Benefits of The Miller Center Fellowship: A Qualitative Interpretation,” Sarah Glasser examines the relationship between the Miller Center Fellowship and the positive outcomes that derive from the experiences that the Fellows endured. The Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara is a place for students to combat social injustices through entrepreneurial innovations. Those who apply and are accepted into the fellowship are given the opportunity to work with social entrepreneurs and spend time with mentors to improve personal skills as well. With data from the Miller Center, I was able to code the alum’s responses and identify common themes of vocational discernment, a greater passion for social entrepreneurship, the value in an international experience, and the ability to handle ambiguity. Our methods of research stem from two main sources of data: survey responses and interviews. The survey was given to all Miller Center Fellows who completed the program. In the survey, a variety of questions were presented, asking Fellows about their understanding of the Fellowship and their future goals. Additionally, a portion of our class time was dedicated to interviewing alum to hear more about their specific successes, challenges, and overall takeaways. From the surveys and Miller Center data set, I was able to recognize a clear connection between the Fellowship and a developed sense of vocational discernment, among other things. This suggests that extra-curricular activities actually support students’ ability to introspect and perceive their future with more clarity, an incredibly positive outcome of the Fellowship. In my research paper, I explore the Fellows’ responses and learn how their experiences in social entrepreneurship align with vocational discernment.

Sarah Glasser is a senior at Santa Clara University, studying sociology, with a passion for creative design, ethnic studies, and the intersection between sports and non-profits. A Bay Area native, she has aspirations to work for a local professional sports team, managing the community relations side of the business. She is involved in a variety of extracurricular activities including, but not limited to, her position as the Vice President of Marketing for SCU Sports Business Club and her role as a Mentor for the University Honors Program. As the year wraps up, she plans to complete her thesis, Multiracial Identity Development in College, and will start working at DraftKings in early July. When she’s not dissecting sociological theories, you can find her at a coffee shop, watching collegiate football, or traveling the world with her 35mm camera. To contact her regarding her research or personal endeavors, please email

Finally, Maryam Khatoon’s work “Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship: Impact of Fellowship on Vocational Discernment” presents a qualitative analysis of Santa Clara University Miller Center Fellows and their vocational trajectories. The data was provided through a survey and focus groups. What we wanted to learn was whether or not their fellowship had any impact on their current work or path post graduation. We analyzed the impact of hands-on entrepreneurship experiences during such formative years while in undergraduate studies. This program is an entire year long program that prepares students to network, communicate, live within the community and tackle local challenges. As part of the program, fellows team up, write reflections, and have faculty mentors to guide them through the journey. More often than not, it seems as though fellows continue to stay in contact with a mentor and peer from the program long after graduation. Maryam Khatoon is a senior Sociology major at Santa Clara University. She transferred to SCU mild pandemic in the Fall of 2020 from West Valley College. She was born and raised in Santa Clara. She is still figuring out her life, but alas, that will eternally be a work in progress. She is passionate about Social Justice. Through her course work at SCU, she came to realize that Sociology research might be the way to hopefully gather the necessary data to influence policies. In particular, she is interested in learning more about immigration and education research. In her free time, Maryam enjoys people-watching, which explains how she became interested in Sociology, spending time with family and friends, watching anime and reading mangas, working out, and learning new skills. Maryam is planning to graduate Spring of 2022 and will see where life takes her from there.

We congratulate all of our capstone students for their fine work!