Marie Luise Neumann: 2011 Class Speaker
On June 8, 2011 in a packed Meany Hall, more than half of this year's approximately 350 graduates made their way in cap and gown across the stage in front of 19 attending faculty to accept their diplomas. Sending them off was student speaker and 2011 Woolston-award winner, Marie Neumann.
Marie Luise Neumann is originally from Germany. In the fall of 2009 she transferred to the University of Washington, where she double-majored in sociology and public health. As an undergraduate, she became especially interested in the connection between these two fields, and the social determinants of health were her main academic focus during her time at the UW. As a senior, she spent two quarters working with Professor Julie Brines on a research project exploring the impact of the current economic climate on divorce filings, and wrote her thesis under the guidance of Dr. Stephen Bezruchka in the UW's School of Public Health on the impact of mass incarceration in the United States on health and health inequalities. In addition to her work on these projects, Marie studied abroad in Tanzania and Mexico, and these experiences deepened her understanding of global health issues and the complexities of international aid work. She looks forward to pursuing her interests in the connection between sociology and health in graduate school in the future.
Highlight from speech: "Many of us have characteristics, whether they are related to race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, that are penalized by society, and this reality is disturbing. But I would argue that knowing about these realities, that being conscious and critical of what we often take for granted is better than not knowing about them and accepting them as truth. We as graduates of this department are uniquely poised to affect change because we have learned that the ways in which these characteristics are seen are socially constructed, and thereby dynamic and changeable."
Howard B. Woolston was the Chair of the Department of Sociology from 1919-29, and was an Outstanding Teacher at the University. The Woolston Award has been given annually since 1956, when it was founded.
To be eligible for the award students must be seniors and have at least a 3.7 grade point average in sociology, and a GPA of at least 3.5 overall. Additional criteria considered by the Undergraduate Program Committee in the selection process include papers the students have submitted from their courses, and recommendations from their instructors.
The three nominees this year from the 2011 graduating class were Marie Neumann, Julia Robison and Sam Withers.