Recent Graduate Pursues High-Impact Career in Sociology

Dean Kaukinen and Alaina Hoofnagle
Dean Catherine "Katie" Kaukinen and Alaina Hoofnagle

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 25, 2022) — The third time was the charm when choosing a major for Sociology graduate, Alaina Hoofnagle. After entering KSU as an undecided major, Alaina first explored English Education and Business Management before finding a major that she knew was perfect for her. Alaina claims that even as a child, she has always been interested in “making a difference” but it was her sociological training that solidified her decision to create positive social change.

“I’ve always been social justice-oriented, very interested in marginalized groups and changing things and making a positive change. And so, I was like, “Yep, this is up my alley,” explained Hoofnagle.

During her time as a student at KSU, Hoofnagle held many titles, from an Honors College student to a teaching assistant to a research assistant. Her latest title comes with her most recent recognition as the 2022 Outstanding Scholar for Sociology at the All-College Awards.

Making the most of her time at KSU, Hoofnagle worked with Dr. Evelina Sterling as a research assistant. The findings from Alaina’s research suggested the addition of a COVID-19-centered curriculum to the self-management program, called “Healthy Together.” This NIH-funded research project allowed Alaina to explore her interests in medical sociology and create a difference in the African American community. She went on to present the findings of this research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Symposium of Student Scholars at KSU.

After graduating in Spring 2022, Dr. Sterling offered Alaina a part-time position to continue her research at Kennesaw State.

When asked about her plans after completing her research, Alaina emphasized her desire for a new career path that will allow her to continue to facilitate social change. “I didn't discover medical sociology until very recently. I was seeking a high-impact career path that would enable me to create positive social change and then I discovered medical sociology.”

Alaina also recognized the misconception about getting a social sciences degree and highlighted the practical implications of switching her major.

“When people ask me what I major in, a lot of people think of psychology, and they asked me if I want to be a counselor. I think people just have that misunderstanding of what sociology is. However, when I started taking sociology classes, my perspective on the world changed. I've always been kind of socially conscious. But the sociological training that I got at KSU helps me to see the world through the sociological imagination, and I see almost everything with the sociological reason behind.”

Alaina says that she now has a very analytical approach to current events that she sees on the news daily. Overall, she believes that her undergraduate education and experience at KSU has made her a well-rounded person and citizen.

“Regardless of what you study, it shows that you were able to show up, have grit, complete what you're doing.”