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Conversations with Sociology Graduates

Conversations with Sociology Graduates

Each year we highlight a couple of our alumni on our webpage. If you would like to share something about yourself, please let us know. Send us an email at sociology@oregonstate.edu.

Blakeley Family(pictured: Anne, Eric, Swan and Marcel)

Every so often one of our graduates ends up living in the Corvallis area, giving us the chance to keep in touch. Such is the case with Eric Blakeley (1999). We got together for coffee recently at New Morning Bakery. Eric brought some recent pictures of his beautiful baby (Marcel) and we talked about his relatively new (two years in July) position in inpatient mental health at Good Samaritan Hospital. While he enjoys his work, family, and the Corvallis community, I was a bit sorry to hear that he is thinking of moving to the Midwest. Since he and Anne had Marcel, they've been thinking about living closer to both of their extended families in Michigan and Minnesota. Eric grew up in the suburbs between Detroit and Ann Arbor and moved out west to find a smaller community to study and work in. After a visit to Oregon and northern California, he chose to come to OSU, arriving in the summer of 1997. Transferring several years of credits from Western Michigan University, Eric started his year here as an advanced student. While completing his sociology core, he also completed the Gerontology Certificate program. Eric has always had an affinity with older adults. He recalls working at a pharmacy while in high school where he would deliver medications to people who couldn't get out of their homes. The relationships he developed with them (and his older family members) made him want to learn more about aging and the systems of care established in communities to address needs of the elderly. What followed was a succession of interesting opportunities for Eric. While at OSU he did an internship with Corvallis Hospice, and after graduating worked in a variety of jobs providing one-on-one care for older adults. Wanting to learn even more, so that he could be a better service provider, Eric pursued the Master's of Social Work at Portland State University (graduating 2002). A couple of internships in both geriatric and adult mental health reinforced his commitment to work with a variety of vulnerable populations. I asked Eric how he thought his education in sociology helped him in his career development. He said that he sees the sociological perspective as "creating and fostering empathy, as well as opening people up to understanding each person's story." In the future he sees continuing his education, maybe working on a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. For the time being, helping to raise Marcel, and working full-time is a great place to be.

Sarah I caught up with Sarah right before she was leaving for Spain. She has been doing an increasing amount of travel with her current job, taking her further from Oregon than she thought possible. Sarah Chait graduated from OSU in 2001. She is a dedicated Beaver fan and laughed about almost becoming a Duck. While in high school in Salem, Sarah decided she wanted to try journalism as a major-something OSU lost back in 1990. However, as luck would have it, she participated in an Upward Bound program at OSU and from then on decided that she would find her place in Corvallis. She began as a Psychology major but after taking a sociology class, found a more structural view to her liking. She was very successful here, participating in the McNair Scholar Program, working with Professor Plaza as a teaching assistant, becoming a member of the Golden Key Honor Society, and doing an internship at the Parent Enhancement Program (PEP) in Benton Country. She credits these experiences, especially her internship, in helping her secure her first job. One month after receiving her B.S. degree, she moved to northern California and began work as a residential case manager at a safe house for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, along with their children. While this job was challenging, northern California was not quite her ideal place to live. So she began searching for jobs in Utah, near the home of her partner (also an OSU grad). She found a job as an Assistant House Coach at The Oakley School which is a therapeutic boarding school for high school aged youth. This past fall she was promoted to a Senior Assistant House Coach which brings with it some exciting opportunities and challenges. She coordinates activities for the students to work with local service agencies (such as Boys and Girls Clubs, pet shelters and homeless shelters), and chaperones the students on educational/recreational trips. Last fall a group from the school went to Cuernavaca, Mexico to set up a sister school. This spring they head to Spain to establish another educational partnership in the city of Huesca. She expects this trip to be an especially powerful learning experience for the students given the recent bombings in Madrid. Sarah plans to go to graduate school in the near future, pursuing a degree in Higher Education Administration. Her long term career goal is to be a Dean-and we believe she'll make it. In the meantime, she has some bags to pack for her next trip.