Our alumni are active individuals pursuing a wide range of interests. If you are a graduate from the Department of Sociology and would like to be featured, please send your entry to Hanadi Salih. We look forward to hearing from you!

Aya Waller-Bey Graduates from the University of Cambridge


On October 22, 2016, Aya Waller-Bey (C'14) graduated from the University of Cambridge in England, where she was attending graduate school.

She graduated with a Masters of Philosophy. Congratulations Aya!



Naa-Shorme Aidoo as Fulbright Scholar

Sociology alum Naa-Shorme Aidoo (C'14) was recently accepted as a Fulbright Student Fellow. She will be studying in South Africa. The Sociology department is very excited for her!

Aya Waller-Bey Accepted to University of Cambridge

Aya Waller-Bey (C' 14) was recently admitted to the Education, Equality and development Doctoral program at the University of Cambridge. The Department of Sociology is very proud of her achievements thus far, and looks forward to her future accomplishments.

Aya Waller-Bey in the Huffington Post


Aya Waller-Bey recently wrote for the Huffington Post, The United Kingdom edition on the Young Voices blog. Waller-Bey writes about the guilt that she feels as she travels the world, studying at the University of Cambridge for her Doctoral program.

Click here to read the story

On September 23, 2015 I nervously sat in a courtroom with my family as the judge sentenced my 19-year-old sister to two years in prison for unarmed robbery and assault with intent to do bodily harm. Before I could give a proper goodbye or tell her how much I love her, she was whisked away in her orange jumpsuit with tears falling from her eyes. Eight hours later, I boarded a flight to London, England.

Like my sister, I was embarking on a new journey. But unlike her, I was headed for one of most prestigious universities in the world. She was beginning a journey that takes her away from her family and three-year-old son and includes timed phone calls, mandatory line-ups and suffocating cells; mine would include academic inquiry, posh dinners and conversations with people from all over the world.

I never really had a moment to digest what happened that morning in the courtroom. Instead, I have spent the last six months avoiding Cambridge faux pas, such as sitting down in hall before the Fellows at the high table. I've learned how to cycle on the left side of the street and tried my hand at punting on the River Cam. While as a vegan I have not been able to indulge in the local cuisine of fish and chips, I have drunk my share of English tea and taken advantage of cheap flights and travelled to various parts of Europe and northern Africa.

Whilst my family background is not emblematic of the norm at Cambridge, it illustrates the value of access to opportunities. Beyond my nationality and my status as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, I cycle through Cambridge as a Black woman who was the first person in her family to attend or graduate from college. I carry not only a backpack, but also the stress and worry of my parent's financial situation, my little brother's well-being and my sister's incarceration. I do not roam the streets of Cambridge as simply a Master's student concerned about exams and essay deadlines, but as a woman carrying the guilt of survival.

Survivor's guilt is not uncommon for first generation college students and I am no exception. Every time I board a flight I think about how, at 47 years old, my mom has never travelled by plane. Each passport stamp represents the freedom I have to travel, reminding me of the limitations and confinement that not only my sister endures in jail, but the financial imprisonment of my parents. I so often wish that my family could share the experiences and luxuries I've been afforded.

Nevertheless, navigating Cambridge as not only a Black woman, but also American poses new challenges as I try to reconcile the privileges and statuses that my nationality affords me and the disadvantages my race and gender identities impose. Consequently, I find myself wanting to connect with my Black peers, but uncertain about where in the puzzle I fit. The collegiate system fragments the already small Black population and, as a African American, I often feel out of place at events hosted by the various Black ethnic societies and organisations, unable to satisfy the question 'no, where are you really from?"

Furthermore, though I attended Georgetown University - an elite, predominately white institution, for undergrad - it pales in comparison to the feeling of privilege and elitism that Cambridge can induce. Given that Cambridge is the wealthiest university in Europe and only 24.4% undergraduates and 36.6% postgraduates identify as Black Minority and Ethnic (BME), assimilation and conformity pose comfortable options for those who do not look like or come from the socio-economic backgrounds of the average Cambridge student. Furthermore, unlike colleges and universities in the United States, universities in England do not report racial and ethnic groups separately and use one label BME - in which the legal definition includes any group other than White British. As a result, the figures tend to mask the lack of Black students and I walk around my college and campus most days not seeing one Black student, administrator or professor.

Finally, as I head into the last few months of my Master's I am reminded that my presence at Cambridge has defied incredible odds. In the US where I worked as an Admissions Officer and coordinator of multicultural recruitment, 11 percent of low-income, students who are the first in their family to attend college will have a college degree within six years of enrolling, according to the Pell Institute. In addition, just 1 percent of first generation college students gain admission and decide to pursue a PhD.

I am unsure if graduation in October or my recent acceptance into the Education, Equality and Development doctoral programme at Cambridge means that I will ever stop experiencing survivor's guilt. Yet, my commitment to advocating and serving traditionally disadvantaged students in higher education remains. Most importantly, for the first time in my life, I am dedicating time to address the inner turmoil and tensions that come with navigating a world so very different from the one of those I love.

Read the story at the Huffington Post


Lauren Reece Returns to Campus to Lead Discussion of Higher Education and Race

On Monday, February 22, Lauren Reese (COL'12) and her father Dr. Benjamin Reese will host a lunch conversation on Higher Education and Race at 12pm in the Healey Family Student Center Social Room. Lauren was actively involved in YLEAD, among other programs, and had a strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity on campus and beyond. Her father, Dr. Reese, is the vice president of the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University and a well-known speaker.

This event is part of the President's Office "Let Freedom Ring!" initiative celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King as well as CSJ's Social Justice Week. It is co-hosted by CSJ, IDEAA, CMEA, and CNDLS's Doyle Engaging Difference Program.



Lauren Reese (C’12) is an alumna of Georgetown University where she studied Sociology, Justice & Peace, and Spanish, and was committed to issues of inclusion on campus. She will graduate in May with a master’s from American University where she focuses on conflict management, dialogue, and migration and serves as a dialogue facilitator and teaching assistant for cross-cultural communications courses.

Benjamin Reese is vice president of the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University and Duke University Health System and a licensed clinical psychologist. For almost 40 years, Reese has worked as a consultant to educational institutions, profit and nonprofit corporations, and health care organizations in the areas of organizational change, conflict resolution, race relations, cross-cultural education, diversity, and inclusion. He serves as President of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.


Aya Waller-Bey (Class of 2014)
Sociology Students Garner Honors (Class of 2012)
Toddchelle Young (Class of 2012)
Ellie Gunderson (Class of 2010)
Donique Reid (Class of 2010) 
Maxwell Hsu (Class of 2010)
Rachel Ellis (Class of 2010)
Stephanie Miller (Class of 2009)
Kathleen Noel Benz (Class of 2007)
Rebecca Medway (Class of 2006)
Laurie Okinaga (Class of 2006)
Bill Healy (Class of 2005)
Anice Schervish (Class of 1998)
Dr. Rosemary Barberet Havican (Class of 1983)