John Robinson’s memories of life as a graduate student at Northwestern University were just months old when he joined Washington University’s fledgling sociology department in fall 2016. Since his arrival, he’s grown close to the students here, and looking back, he sees a big difference in how they relate to the sociology program.
“One of the biggest changes over my time here is how the students have come to think of the sociology department as a home, as their own special place at the university,” Robinson says. “They’re much more comfortable and relaxed when they’re around our office suite, and they’re here a lot. You can tell they really like being here. There’s a sense that this a place where they belong.”
Robinson, now an assistant professor in the department, credits much of that enthusiasm to the work of Candace Hall, who, as the department’s staff administrator, has quickly become an indispensable resource for both faculty and students. The department calendar is chock full of informal student events, pizza parties, movie nights and all-night study halls during exam week, all faithfully organized and attended by Hall.
With Hall’s help, several students in the department have spearheaded the rebirth of a Washington University chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, an international honor society for sociology students.
Leading that effort has been Kate Thorne, who graduated in May with Latin honors, and Brian Tung, a rising junior who plans to graduate next year with a degree in sociology. Both Thorne and Tung have served as teaching assistants for sociology courses and have been active in organizing student events.