Sociology Honors Program

Honors Requirements

To earn honors in sociology, a student majoring in sociology must earn a grade-point average of 3.5 or above in sociology, 3.3 or above overall and have completed four courses towards the sociology major. In the fall, the student must enroll in the senior Honors Seminar (SOC 471), and in the spring in SOC 499 (to write the honors research paper). In order for the student to receive honors, that paper must be judged to be of honors quality. SOC 499 constitutes an "11th course"; that is, a course in addition to the 10-course requirement to fulfill the sociology major.

Image: Isabel Pierangelo
Isabel Pierangelo
Our Honors are Leaving a Mark at Binghamton University

By Prof. Gladys M. Jiménez-Muñoz

This is one of a series of interviews with undergraduate students who distinguished themselves in the Honors Program in the Sociology Department.

I first met Isabel as a student in my undergraduate course, SOC 305 Research Methods, during the Spring of 2019. Isabel Pierangelo graduated Suma-Cum Laude (Spring 2020) with a double major in Sociology and Psychology and a minor in Africana. She is also a Phi Beta Kappa and a Phi Eta Sigma. She is a superb undergraduate student with a great work ethic and exceptional intellectual talent, as well as being an active member of our campus community.

Isabel, give us a brief profile of your accomplishments. 
“In my second semester freshman year, I became a tour guide for Undergraduate Admissions. Sharing my Binghamton story with prospective students and their families was extremely rewarding for me. After working as a tour guide, I was promoted to Program Coordinator of the Undergraduate Tour Guide Program in my second semester junior year. I supervised six other supervisors and 100 tour guides and this leadership experience taught me an incredible amount about myuself and gave me the opportunity to being able to give back to a program that afforded me many meaningful experiences. Leadership positions are very available at Binghamton University, almost everyone takes on some form of leadership, whether it's being the treasurer of a club or the president of one of our living communities. During my sophomore year, I participated in research in the Sociology department under Dr. Michael West that ultimately helped him write his book on the first president of independent Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. Alongside Dr. West, I analyzed microfilm reels of the newspaper Muhammad Speaks, the most widely read newspaper of the Nation of Islam. In the summer going into my senior year, I was sponsored by Harpur College Law Council to work as an intern in the Education Unit of Bronx Legal Services. This experience solidified my passion for advocating alongside marginalized communities for the equitable justice they deserve. I graduated summa cum laude with honors in Sociology in May 2020 and I plan to work as a paralegal before heading off to law school in the Fall of 2021.”

Describe to us your experience with the Honors Program
“Inspired by the work I completed while working as an intern at Bronx Legal Services, my honors thesis discussed the sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline experienced predominantly by Black and Brown girls in underfunded American public schools. This pipeline occurs when Black and Brown girls are suspended for the behaviors that they exhibit at school after being victims of sexual violence, such as running out of a classroom or being aggressive. Once a student is suspended many times and they recognize that the adults in their school are not protecting them from more abuse, they are discouraged from attending school and are more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system. There is no theoretical research that exists discussing this pipeline in American schools: there are accounts of its occurrence but I wanted to analyze this gender and race specific form of control within a sociological and relational framework and situate it within a historical context. This consisted of reading many books and articles and analyzing how the arguments of various authors can be applied to the pipeline faced by Black and Brown school girls.”

Why was this topic important for you?
“As I learned in every one of my sociology classes, historically, sociological research has benefited the oppressor. I wanted to dedicate a year of my undergraduate career to completing research in honor of those whose voices are suppressed by "mainstream", white-centered research. I also chose this topic to continue to educate myself as a white woman who holds many privileges.”

How did your mentor help you with your thesis?
“Because my topic was one that has very little pre-existing research attached to it, I was very overwhelmed at first. My mentor, Prof. Kelvin Santiago-Valles, guided me towards a realistic plan for my thesis with his extensive knowledge on topics related to social control. Every time I visited his office, he would recommend new books and articles that he believed I could tie into my research. Above all, my mentor did an incredible job at challenging me, and I believe that this is what research is all about. He pushed me and believed in me when I doubted myself.”

How are your future plans connected with your major and/or your thesis?
“Coming into Binghamton as a freshman, all I really knew for sure about my future was that I wanted to work with people. After taking Introduction to Sociology and meeting many of the Sociology professors, I knew that it had to be one of my majors. The most significant takeaway I have from being a sociology major is learning how to critically think within a global, sociohistorical context. Turns out, this is a critical skill needed for someone who wants to work in public interest law (and almost any other career involving people). Sociology also guides you through the process of understanding the experiences of groups of people to which you may not belong. My goal to become a lawyer that works with low-income, marginalized individuals involves me interacting with people who have completely opposite social experiences from my own. Sociology equipped me with the skills needed to consciously advocate for these populations and to recognize my own privilege along the way. My thesis was the most challenging exercise I've had in argument building and this is the base of everything that lawyers do.”