Sarah was older than the average graduate student when she applied to U-M. With an M.S.W. already in hand, she had been working as a program evaluator for a homeless program in Louisville that housed individuals with severe mental illness or substance abuse issues. Her journey to grad school began with an interest in enhancing her skills and ability to be a program evaluator, and having found the joint program in Social Work and Sociology at U-M, she was taken with the interdisciplinary potential to bring a theoretical lens to her work by deepening her background in both fields.

As a new Michigan student, Sarah immersed herself in her new environment and found a special interest in the city of Detroit. “In particular, I was interested in the people who stayed in Detroit. You hear narratives of people leaving Detroit and how depopulation is a significant issue, but I’m interested in the narratives of people who stayed in Detroit and how they made sense of staying. The story portrayed often by the media is that the ‘stayers’ simply stay because they are stuck due to their economic circumstances. While a lot of Detroit is lower income, something with ‘being stuck’ or ‘left behind’ didn’t sit well with me, and I wondered how much this is really the case and how much might be something else going on.”

Go to Rackham's Website to read the rest of Sarah's story, her dissertation work, and experience in graduate school.