Let's get to know Samuel...
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major/Minor: Double major in Sociology and Women's Gender and Studies; CASC minor
What inspired you to major in Sociology?
When I first came to Michigan, I was passionate about the STEM field and aspired to become a surgeon. While taking Soc 218 during my sophomore year, I was able to reflect on my identities and develop a deeper understanding of how they have shaped my lived experience. As a low-income, first-generation queer Chicano who’s the son of an undocumented immigrant, I firmly believe that advocacy and activism play an extremely crucial role in not only the creation of social change and liberation of all but also in the daily lives of our society’s most vulnerable and most oppressed. Sociology has provided me with the tools to understand a diverse range of experiences, not to take things at face value, and to question everything. I don't quite remember who I heard this from, but fish don't know what water is or that they're in it. Culture is our water and because we are so immersed in it, it's impossible for us to see. Sociology has become an integral part of my life, and in the way I approach things. Being able to share this knowledge with others and giving them a newfound awareness is both an honor and a privilege.
What classes have you most enjoyed?
I enjoyed Soc 305, Into to Sociological Theory, with Professor Kim Hess the most. I loved learning about and reading W.E.B. Du Bois work, especially his theory of the veil and double consciousness. This is probably my favorite theory/theorist thus far because not only is he visually conceptualizing so many things about the color line, but also because we can apply this theory to more than just race. It can be used to any marginalized identity, whether it be gender identity, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, etc. Individuals who are marginalized in one way or another can speak to the injustices and inequalities we experience that those with privilege aren't even aware of. I also loved learning about marginalized theorists who weren’t, until quite recently, recognized for their contributions to sociology.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed taking Soc 335, Urban Inequality, taught by Professor Sarah Zelner. We dove into the history of racial segregation and racial inequalities within metropolitan cities to analyze and contextualize why they looked a certain way at different points in time, how they developed over time and they contributed to the production of inequality for many communities, especially Black neighborhoods.
What do you hope to do after graduating from Michigan?
When I declared, I had planned on obtaining my MSW from U of M. However, after careful deliberation, I have decided to enter the workforce after graduating. A degree in sociology gives me the flexibility and opportunity to choose from a wide range of jobs. I’d love to work with and helps low-income trans people of color obtain the resources they need and deserve. I would also see myself working with undocumented immigrants and queer people of color. Hopefully, I can find an employer that will pay for my MSW while I work for them. Eventually, I want to get my Ph. D. in sociology because I am incredibly interested in researching and learning more about the lived experiences of trans people of color.
Do you have advice for prospective Soc majors in this moment?
Take classes outside your comfort zone, ask questions, and go to your instructors’ office hours. Also, it’s okay not to know something or have a hard time understanding concepts/material. Some, if not most, of the texts in sociology are long and dense, making it hard to read and comprehend, thereby making it inaccessible to those who don’t have a solid academic background. It’s not always easy speaking up in front of your classmates; trust me, I get it, but don’t let that stop you from learning and developing your sociological lens. Voice your confusion or unique perspective, whether it’s in lecture, discussion section, breakout rooms, or office hours. One last thing, office hours are not solely for asking questions or talking through the course material. Get creative!!