Sociology Helps Student Fire Her Interest in Social Justice and Meet Her Career Goals

Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith, a senior sociology and psychology major at Nebraska, has recently been awarded the Sociology Opportunities Scholarship. The scholarship, which is worth $500, is awarded to first-generation sociology majors who display promise in their academic work. Yet despite her current performance as a student at the university, Kayla’s academic career has often been a difficult one.

Kayla first attended college in 2007 at Olivet-Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. A psychology major at the time, Kayla did not perform well in her classes and suffered from homesickness. After just one semester, Kayla left Olivet-Nazarene to attend Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) in her hometown of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

At WNCC, Kayla majored in nursing for two years starting in 2008. However, despite the fresh start, Kayla still did not feel motivated in her school work and ended up leaving WNCC in spring, 2010.

Afterward, Kayla moved to Lincoln. After marrying and having a child with her current husband, Adam, Kayla decided to attend school once more, this time at Southeast Community College. In the summer and fall of 2012, Kayla surprised herself with how well she did in her classes. As a result, she then decided to transfer to UNL, where she has been studying since spring, 2013.

Upon first arriving at the university, Kayla had aspirations of becoming a therapist and majored in psychology and minored in conflict resolution. However, after taking an introduction to sociology course, Kayla decided to major in both psychology and sociology. During this time, Kayla also became interested in studying issues regarding gender and sexuality. Once she completes her undergraduate degree, Kayla plans on attending graduate school in the hopes of furthering her research and understanding of issues regarding the LGBT community.

With her plans for the future more focused than ever before in her life, Kayla believes studying sociology helped her realize her career goals.

Studying sociology has exposed Kayla to a wide range of topics, many of which have tapped into her interest in social justice. These aspects of sociology have made Kayla more interested in and enthusiastic about her studies than ever before.

“I’m definitely more motivated now than I was before,” Kayla said.

Another reason for this motivation is her three-year-old son, Axel.

“He’s a smart kid and I want more than anything to set a good example for him,” Kayla said. “Since my earlier college years, I’ve realized there are more important things about college than just having a good time.”

Story by Lane Chasek

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