Professors, Five Seniors to Present at Denver Sociological Conference

July 31, 2012

by Lauren Daley '05

Last summer, Hailey Chalhoub '13 worked with Sociology Professor Christopher Wetzel, left in a Directed Study on Environmental Sociology. Chalhoub's research on the women of the Maasai tribe in Kenya was so intriguing that Wetzel urged her to submit her paper to the American Sociological Association's Honors Program.

It was accepted, as was a paper on gender equity in Kenya by her classmate Domenique Ciavattone '13.

Chalhoub and Ciavattone are among a group of Stonehill students and professors bound for Denver, to present their work at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting from Aug. 17 to 20.

Sociology Professors Ken Branco, Corey Dolgon and Wetzel will take five seniors - Chalhoub, Ciavattone, Sean Moran, Bryan Tavares and Julia Crane - to participate, present research, and interact with other scholars at the conference.

"The conference is our discipline's largest and most important professional gathering, so it's fantastic to have these talented students participate," said Wetzel.

National Platform
Founded in 1905, The American Sociological Association (ASA) is the national organization for sociologists with over 14,000 members.

The theme the ASA's annual conference this year is "Real Utopias: Emancipatory Projects, Institutional Designs, Possible Futures." That means the gathered sociologists will study real utopian-like societies that already exist, Wetzel said. "Utopias" are not hypothetical futures, but real-life presents; in Denver, the sociologists will study cases of these, from businesses, to small communities to governments.

Chalhoub, right, and Ciavattone were selected to participate in the ASA's honors program, which is a conference within the larger conference. Wetzel said this is the first time ever that Stonehill students will partake in the honors program. Honor students are selected for the program from a competitive application process, which includes an essay about their future plans, a research paper, and a letter of recommendation from a faculty sponsor.

First Time Presenting
"This will be my first time presenting at an academic conference and I am excited to present my research to other undergraduate students who share similar interests as me," said Chalhoub, 21, of Plymouth, Mass. "Also, I hope to use this opportunity to network with other students who plan to pursue a similar path within International Affairs."

Ciavattone, 21, right, of Bellingham, Mass., said she's eager to "get feedback from scholars on my paper and discuss other papers, as well. I am excited to hear about the work people are doing all over the country, and be able to learn from all of those who are presenting."

Meanwhile, Julia Crane and Prof. Branco will present research on optimism among nursing home residents and will co-present their paper, "Religion, Coping, and Optimism among Nursing Home Residents."

"Many nursing home residents are unable to complete activities of daily living on their own; for our study, we measured the extent to which a resident's coping mechanisms and level of religiousness affected his/her ability to remain optimistic about regaining some capacity to complete activities of daily living," said Crane, 21, an English and Sociology double major from Pelham, NH.

Crane said her participation in the Denver conference will boost her chances of getting into grad school next fall.

"Presenting an article at a national conference is an experience that could set my resume apart from those of other applicants in the fall," she said.

Mindful Living
Moran and Tavares will present research on the "Mindful Living" community, special interest housing in the Rehoboth and Plymouth houses in Stonehill's Commonwealth Courts. It aims to be a utopian-like community, intent on sustainable living and social action.

Wetzel, who has been attending ASA conferences for 10 years, will present his own paper on why the Massachusetts legislature and voters rejected a proposal to establish a state lottery in the 1950s. He said the benefits to Stonehill students participating in this program are threefold:

Participation Benefits
"First, they recognize that they're doing excellent, innovative research that scholars will find interesting. Second, they meet students and faculty from around the world and exchange ideas. Third, they see the diverse range of experiences and knowledge across the discipline and think about what they can bring back to enrich campus."


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