Student Spotlight: Erika Rasmussen
Erika Rasmussen, a senior sociology and English major with minors in Creative Writing and Spanish, originally from Denver, Colorado.
"I’m so grateful to the sociology department, which has supported me throughout my time at Santa Clara, including when I applied for -- and received -- the O’Hare Fellowship. I want to give a big shout-out to Dr. Cara Chiaraluce for her encouragement in our sociology internship course and help in securing an internship with the alt-weekly newspaper Metro Silicon Valley. These experiences allowed me to apply the sociological imagination and a social scientific approach to my reporting in a way that made me more aware of the complex interplay of individuals and social-structures. Dr. Chiaraluce really cheered me on in my work, which meant so much.
In the O’Hare Fellowship, I’ll be working in print, digital, audio and film projects with America Media in New York City. I’m very excited to keep using a sociological perspective in my work as a reporter. I want to tell people’s stories, and I feel that sociology offers an understanding of people and our world that is vital to actually telling those stories well. I need to understand the intersections of race, socioeconomics, gender, and other identities in America before writing about them, and am thankful to sociology for allowing that deepened perspective.
The sociological imagination allows for a sensitivity to the reality of the human experience that I think is so important. No longer at SCU, but Dr. Tracy DeHaan was my first professor in sociology—who I began learning with my very first quarter here, who actually converted me into a major—and I remember how deeply it impacted me when she opened up this world of sociology that just made the world… make more sense. Learning about sociology opened up a new way to love people, and to understand and resist injustice. That’s how I see my advisor and capstone instructor Dr. Laura Nichols’ work, I really see how she uses sociology to love and create a better world. That inspires me. Sociology gives me hope that we do have the ability to create a more beautiful world."
Erika is also a recipient of the Sociology Department’s Academic Excellence Award.