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American Sociological Association Selects Five PhD Students for its Minority Fellowship Program

WASHINGTON, DC, July 12, 2011 — The American Sociological Association (ASA) has announced the five sociologists who will comprise the 38th cohort of the ASA Minority Fellowship Program (MFP). Selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 70 applicants, the new MFP fellows are Sean Arayasirikul, University of California-San Francisco; Christy Erving, Indiana University-Bloomington; Selina Gallo-Cruz, Emory University; Mytoan H. Nguyen, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Heather M. Washington, Ohio State University. All PhD candidates, they will officially begin their MFP participation on August 1, 2011.

“We are very excited to have this talented new cohort of MFP fellows,” said Sally Hillsman, ASA Executive Officer. “These five students were the best of an extremely well-qualified group of applicants. Our new fellows have fascinating and diverse sociological interests, and the MFP will help prepare them to make important contributions to the discipline and to society as a whole.”

Established in 1974, the MFP is a predoctoral fellowship program designed to increase the pipeline of underrepresented minority sociologists. The MFP fellowship is awarded for 12 months, and the annual stipend for each fellow is $18,000, with additional financial support provided for professional development activities.

There have been nearly 500 fellows in the program’s history, and MFP alumni are among the most accomplished faculty scholars, teachers, administrators, and non-academic professionals in the discipline. In 2009, Patricia Hill Collins, Distinguished University Professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, became the first former MFP fellow to serve as ASA President.

MFP applicants can be undergraduates or graduate students in master’s degree only programs who have been accepted into sociology PhD programs, or students at any stage of a doctoral program. The ASA MFP Advisory Panel (whose members are appointed by the ASA Executive Officer and approved by the ASA Council), reviews and evaluates all applications before choosing fellows.

Selection is based on evidence of necessary skills and ability to successfully complete a doctoral program, relevant research, a supportive university environment, and the availability and commitment of an appropriate faculty mentor.

The MFP is now generously supported in full by Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), Alpha Kappa Delta (AKD), the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS), the Association of Black Sociologists (ABS), the Southwestern Sociological Association (SSA), and the ASA Council, as well as through the significant contributions made by individual ASA members and organizations, both through the recent MFP Leadership Campaign and on an annual basis.

Cohort 38 of the ASA MFP:

Sean Arayasirikul
Undergraduate Institution: University of California-Los Angeles
Graduate Institution: University of California-San Francisco

Sean Arayasirikul’s research roots lie in social justice; LGBT activism; and HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and research. His personal experiences with homelessness, discrimination, and violence have shaped the lens through which he analyzes health and illness. His diverse professional experiences range from providing HIV/STI testing services on the streets of Los Angeles to providing mobile case management services to newly-diagnosed HIV-positive youth of color. Arayasirikul recently completed a Health Policy Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, where he authored and championed national Healthy People 2020 objectives, emphasizing the integral role of social support in making healthy decisions. As a doctoral student, he is investigating the role and impact of social structures on health and illness. He is interested in the emotional and social consequences of illness and in how social networks engender resilience, social capital, and social contagion. His work focuses particularly on racial and sexual minority adolescents. Eventually, Arayasirikul hopes to use his research to develop community-owned, structural interventions and disruptive technologies to eliminate inequalities in health and illness.

Christy Erving
Undergraduate Institution: Rice University
Graduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington

It was during Christy Erving’s undergraduate study abroad experience in the Dominican Republic—where she saw firsthand the health needs of socially disadvantaged people—that she became interested in issues of race, immigration, and health inequalities. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree in sociology and Hispanic studies in 2007, she enrolled in the sociology doctoral program at Indiana University, where she is focusing on medical sociology. Erving’s master’s thesis, a winner of the North Central Sociological Association’s outstanding graduate student paper award, examined the relative impacts of socioeconomic status, social role occupation, and psychological resources in understanding gender differences in physical health among African Americans and Caribbean blacks. Her broader research interests include understanding the social epidemiology of physical and mental health, with a specific focus on racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant populations in the United States. Erving’s current research projects include a study of the social support and physical/mental health relationship among black Americans. She has previously received funding from the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program, the Ford Foundation, and Indiana University’s Graduate Scholars Fellowship.

Selina Gallo-Cruz
Undergraduate Institution: Wellesley College
Graduate Institution: Emory University

Selina Gallo-Cruz conducts research on the global dimensions of political change. Her dissertation examines the role of a growing population of international nonviolent protest NGOs in supporting the development of democratic movements throughout the world. She identifies historical factors shaping the emergence and work of this population and analyzes the challenges and dynamics of their interaction with local protest movements. Gallo-Cruz has also conducted soon-to-be-published research on alternative healthcare movements in the United States, transnational efforts to protest U.S. militarization in Latin America, and global cultural theory. She currently assists in the collection and analysis of data for an NSF-funded study of mobilization strategies among Latinos in the Nuevo South, and she provides research assistance to Nonviolence International. Prior to her tenure as a Davis Scholar at Wellesley College, Gallo-Cruz spent several years working with national and international social justice organizations. Her experiences with those organizations inspired her academic research on globalization and social change.

Mytoan H. Nguyen
Undergraduate Institution: University of California-Berkeley
Graduate Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mytoan Nguyen’s research interests include diaspora and refugees, economic change and development, urban ethnography, and the sociology of ethnic and racial studies. She is currently writing her dissertation on the experiences of ethnic return migration from developed to developing countries, focusing on refugees’ children returning to Vietnam. Her dissertation explores gender relations, social class, and global diaspora identity-making within global cities, with insights based on the experiences of Vietnamese Americans from the post-1975 wave of U.S. refugees, focusing especially on a small subset now finding high-skilled work opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Nguyen grew up in Northern California and earned a master’s in Australian Studies at the University of Melbourne. She devotes considerable time to service-learning projects connecting the UW-Madison community with underrepresented high school youths. A Kauffman Community Entrepreneurship Grant has enabled her to work with other educators to teach interviewing skills and oral history writing workshops in the Madison area.

Heather M. Washington
Undergraduate Institution: West Virginia University
Graduate Institution: Ohio State University

Heather M. Washington’s research explores how mass incarceration impacts families and children. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminology and investigations at West Virginia University (WVU). While at WVU, Washington participated in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, and she, along with her mentor Rachael Woldoff, conducted research on the effects of paternal incarceration on fathers’ engagement with their children, an experience that whet her appetite for sociological research. As a graduate student, she has retained her interests in crime, incarceration, and family and has explored them in a variety of ways. Her master’s thesis examined the effects of fathers’ participation in illicit work on mother-father relationship stability and quality. Washington’s dissertation research, supported by the Criminal Justice Research Center at OSU and the Department of Sociology, examines the relationship between parental imprisonment and problem behaviors in early childhood. Specifically, it investigates the mechanisms by which parental incarceration negatively affects child wellbeing and the extent to which those effects vary across gender, race/ethnicity, and immigrant status. Additionally, Washington is exploring the simultaneous and interactive effects of parenting behavior and neighborhood characteristics on child outcomes.


About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

This news release was written by Mary Griffin, ASA Office of Public Affairs and Public Information.