Current Graduate Student Bios

William Ash-Houchen

William Ash-Houchen is a doctoral student with areas of specialization in social stratification, criminology, victimization, and substance use/misuse. His research interests include: quantitative criminology; criminological theory; structural determinants of victimization; deviant behavior; and identity development and maintenance. Courses taught at TWU include: Sexualities and Identities, Correctional Systems and Practice, Introduction to Criminal Justice, and Juvenile Delinquency. William holds memberships in: The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key International Honour Society, and Alpha Kappa Delta - The international Honor Society in Sociology. William is currently serving as President of the TWU's Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta.

Valarie J. Bell

Valarie J. Bell is a doctoral student in sociology. Major: Stratification, Minor: Computer Science. Master's in Social Psychology (University of Nevada-Reno: 2014). Area of specialization: Computational sociology including social simulation, specifically, agent-based modeling (ABM), complex adaptive systems (CAS), systems dynamics, microsimulation, social network analysis (SNA), text mining and analysis, advanced statistical methods, including multilevel modeling. Research interests: complexity, emergence, and chaos in social sciences; crises in democratic societies as manifested through various phenomena: (a) obstacles to intergenerational social mobility and the prevalence of inequality; (b) weakening of the middle and working classes vis-à-vis diminished worker representation/collective bargaining; (c) citizen apathy and poor electoral participation; (d) social movements (e.g., Occupy Wall Street, the Labor movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Environmental movement). Valarie is a volunteer statistician with the American Statistical Association’s apolitical organization Statistics Without Borders (SWB), which provides pro bono statistical consulting services for non-profit organizations and governments seeking to improve the health and welfare of developing nations. Valarie is also the editor of In Critical Solidarity, the newsletter of the American Sociological Association's Section on Labor and Labor Movements. Valarie is working towards a career in computational sociology that will enable her to conduct research to inform public policy. Learn more about her interests and experience at: https://www.linkedin.com/

Jamie Covey

Hi, I am Jamie Covey. I am a sociology PhD student with a focus in social stratification, and gender. Specifically, I want to study how the culture of the military impacts a women who serves. As a female combat veteran myself, I am passionate about extending the conversation about equality in the military. As a civilian, I am a high school American Sign Language teacher. In the military, I am a Chief in the United States Navy Reserves. In my free time, I love camping and other outdoor activities with my family and friends. I am honored to be attending TWU again, this will be my third degree from this amazing institution!

J.P. DeMeritt

J. P. (John Paul) DeMeritt, a fifth year PhD student concentrating in globalization, is also interested in sociology of time, knowledge and religion. With an MS in Studies of the Future, he is also interested in how society shapes decisions we make regarding the future. Other interests include military sociology. He has assisted with courses in Introductory Sociology, Women and Crime, and Population Dynamics.

Erin Ellis Guffey

Erin Ellis Guffey is a doctoral student with areas of specialization in medical sociology, criminology, motherhood, sociological theory, and qualitative research methods. Her research interests are in medical sociology, social justice issues and human rights, motherhood and the family, deviant behavior and social control, and domestic violence. Courses taught at TWU include: Introduction to Sociological Theory, Deviant Behavior and Social Control, Correctional Systems and Practices, and Juvenile Delinquency. 

Heather Gerling

Heather Gerling is a doctoral student with areas of specialization in global conflict, religion and culture. Her research interests include cross-national relationships between religiosity, gender inequality, and levels of economic development. She has collaborated on research linking income and gender inequality to crime victimization, and is currently co-authoring a book on methods of community health research. Courses taught at TWU include Race and Ethnicity and Social Inequality. Heather holds memberships in the Alpha Kappa Delta International Society in Sociology, where she serves on the executive board, as well as the Graduate Student Council, where she serves as a senator.

Stacy Kelk

Stacy Kelk is a doctoral student with research interests in culture on the Internet, and computer-mediated communication. She recently co-authored on Doctor of Nursing Practice perceptions of activity trackers. She is a Graduate Research Assistant for a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, awarded to the Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing in Dallas. Stacy is currently working on both qualitative and quantitative data collection to support the aims of the grant.

Mia Kirby

Mia M. Kirby is a doctoral student in sociology, majoring in social stratification/inequality and gender. Her research interests are in race, ethnicity, gender, higher education, and discrimination. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with an MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Courses taught at another institution include Introduction to Social Work, Family Therapy, Direct Practice with Children and Families, Direct Practice in Healthcare, and Group Dynamics.

Erica Leone

Erica Leone is a master’s student with research interests in cultural sociology, demography, and religion’s effects on society, social psychology, and working mom’s effects on family structure. She is currently working on a co-authored study: “The Not-So-Golden Years: Analysis of Elder Happiness.” Erica was president of Alpha Sigma Lambda (2014-2016) and is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. In addition to college experience she brings 15 years of professional experience in teaching, training and management.

Marco Mena

My name is Marco Mena, I am a sociology PhD student at Texas Woman's University. I am aiming to achieve ABD status by the end of this year. I am currently working on my dissertation proposal on "intimate partner violence among men that have sex with men." I have two Master’s degrees from the City University of New York: Sociology (2005) and International Relations (1999). I am currently working for the sociology department as a Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching two classes: Crime in America and Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States. I am currently co-authoring two papers with Dr. Philip Yang for tentative publications: Americans’ attitude on immigration and Pan-Africanism in a theological perspective.

Viktor Palacios

Viktor Solis-Palacios is a doctoral student whose focus is in Social Stratification, with a secondary areas in Environmental Crime. His research interests include Environmental Crime, Social Justice, Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Family, Criminology, and Qualitative Research Methods. Courses that he teaches at TWU include Juvenile Delinquency and Deviant Behavior & Social Control. He has also taught Intro to Sociology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly the University of Texas - Pan American).

Martel Pipkins

Martel Pipkins is a doctoral student with research interests in social inequality (race/class/gender), education, and globalization. He recently co-authored two book chapters on Black and Latino intergroup relations and Hispanic Identity in Race and Ethnic Relations in America and one peer-reviewed article on Academic Repression. Classes taught at TWU include: Introduction to Sociology, Social Inequality, Social Problems, Theories of Crime, and Race and Ethnicity

Allison Ray

Allison Ray is a master's candidate and received her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of North Texas in Rehabilitation, Psychology and Project Management. Allison’s areas of interests include stratification, ethnic and cultural traditions/beliefs, family, environment, spatial inequalities, and health and illness. She believes that access to an adequate amount of healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food is a basic human right. She studies the causes and consequences of hunger and food insecurity in the United States. She wants to help develop specialized community-based interventions to improve food-access to vulnerable groups in Texas. Also, Allison is the criminal justice advisor and advises undergraduate students pursuing their bachelor's education at TWU.

Becky Rodriguez

Becky is a doctoral student with a major in stratification and minor in Educational Administration. Her research interests include race and ethnicity, mentoring, persistence and retention, issues in higher education, education, diversity, stratification, social inequality, first generation student outreach and immigration. Becky has also had the opportunity to lead the university on matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion, supports various programs that educate the campus community regarding the importance and advantages of a culture that values and supports each member of our community.

Amy Romanus

Amy Romanus is a doctoral candidate at TWU. Her areas of specialization are in Business Research, Marketing, Demography, Statistics, Methodology, and Classical and Contemporary Social Theory. She has an MBA with a specialization in marketing and a MS Sociology degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Her research interests are in Population Dynamics, Education, Social Theory, Business Research, Marketing, and Statistics. After graduating from Texas A&M University- Commerce: M.S. Sociology, Magna Cum Laude, in May 2009 and M.B.A. specializing in Marketing, Magna Cum Laude, in August 2009, Amy received the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world could receive in a master’s program accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). She is currently working at BH Management as the senior marketing consultant for the Dallas / Fort Worth area. Amy has presented at several conferences including the 2014 ASA conference in San Francisco. The courses Amy has taught at TWU include Social Theory, Criminology, Deviant Behavior, Race and Ethnicity, Developing Countries, and Theories of Crime. Amy’s CV may be requested through email.

Prauttus Kay Samuel

Prauttus Kay Samuel is a doctoral student with specialization in clinical laboratory science and public health. Current specialty pursuits include social stratification/inequality, medical sociology and qualitative research methods. She has research interests in race/gender relations and health disparities. Courses taught at another institution include Human Development, Dynamic of Healthcare, The Culture of Healthcare, Introduction to Healthcare and Public Health, Professional Customer Service in Healthcare. Course taught at TWU include The Family. Current research pursuits are disabled women and domestic violence/abuse, obesity among African-American women and global trend of obesity.

Christina Thomas

Christina Thomas is a doctoral student with areas of specialization in Social Stratification and Sociology of Education. Her research interests are in Caribbean immigrants, Migration, Race and Ethnicity, Inequality, and Education. Courses taught at TWU include Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States, Women’s Role’s, and Social Research Methods. She is a member of the TWU Leadership Institute, Alpha Kappa Delta, and Omicron Delta Kappa. 

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams is a PhD student with interests in Medical Sociology, Sexuality and Gender. She has a M.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Resolution. She is also certified to teach Speech grades 6-12 in the State of Texas. She hopes to complete her degree by May, 2016 and spend her days in the classroom stretching the minds of tomorrow's leaders. Course(s) taught in TWU include gender roles.

Michaela Wilson

Michaela Wilson is a second year doctoral student. Her major area is Social Stratification with an emphasis in Environmental Sociology with a minor area in Environmental Philosophy. During her first year, Michaela was a graduate fellow and is presenting her paper at the 2016 American Society of Criminology Conference in New Orleans. Courses taught: Culture, Inequality, and Self.