Andrea Johnson

Curriculum Vita


Degree & Year in the Program

PhD Candidate


Regina Werum and Kristen Olson

Areas of Specialization

Inequalities within the field of education; specifically race, gender and geographic inequalities; Inequalities within primary, secondary and higher educational institutions

About me

After completing my Masters in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2019, I am looking forward to obtaining my PhD here as well. I earned a BA in Business at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska and took a circuitous route to the field of sociology. After working for multiple educational nonprofits across the country, including City Year New Hampshire and Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta, I developed a passion for identifying and remedying educational inequalities. I chose the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an innovative institution in which to blend my interests in social justice and the social sciences.

My area of specialization is inequalities within the field of education. In my dissertation I analyze how Nebraska public schools are responding to students’ mental health needs. Rates of mental illness among students are being diagnosed at higher levels than in years past, which places a high burden on schools and their resources (Busfield, 2012; Burns, 1995.) To understand how schools are supporting both the academic and emotional needs of their students, I conducted a qualitative analysis using 55 educator interviews from 27 Nebraska Public Schools. I initially conducted these interviews in the summer of 2019 as an intern for the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE). During my internship, I conducted a qualitative study exploring the cultures and needs of public schools across the state. In my dissertation, I reframe this data and explore the interviews for how schools facilitate formal mental health processes (a federal, state, or district program or mandate) and informal mental health responses (school-specific responses).

I feel passionately about empowering the next generation of future sociologists, both within and outside of the classroom. For instance, I have attended the 2017, 2018, and 2019 NUSS (Nebraska Undergraduate Sociology Symposium) conference as a graduate representative to help encourage budding sociologists. I recently served as the NASGS (Nebraska Association of Sociology Graduate Students) President.

Nebraska is my home state, and I have enjoyed returning home to continue my studies. The university's sociology program is outstanding, both inside and outside of the classroom. I believe the key to Nebraska's excellence is the high expectations it has of its students coupled with the ingrained support networks of faculty and fellow graduate students. I have also appreciated the holistic educational approach the university provides: we are encouraged to collaborate within and outside our department, are given weekly opportunities to meet with sociologists across the United States, and we are given tools in which to succeed in both academic and non-academic contexts. And the school spirit is contagious! Go Huskers!

In my free time I enjoy volunteering with Launch Leadership (an educational nonprofit that works with middle school and high school students), reading for my book club, and finding new adventures– the most recent being hiking Machu Picchu!

Courses Taught

SOCI 226: Families and Society, Online Asynchronous

SOCI 391: Special Topics: Sex & Gender & Romantic Comedies, Online Synchronous

SOCI 101: Introduction to Sociology, In-Person & Online Asynchronous


Hill, P.W., Werum, R., Jochman, J., Johnson, A., & Spiegel, A.N. Moving the Needle: How Institutional Characteristics Shape Women’s Graduation Rates in Engineering and Computer Science. Under Review at the International Journal of Stem Education.