Meet the New Graduate Student Cohort!

This year our department welcomed six graduate students to the 2020/2021 cohort. Below, we learn a little bit about each of them! WSU Sociology wouldn’t be what it is without our excited, curious, and inspiring new graduate students.

Ed. Note: Interviews were edited for clarity and brevity.


A front facing photo of Christian Maynard, from the shoulders up. They are looking into the camera and smiling.
Christian Maynard

Christian Maynard

Hometown: Danville, Illinois (about 2.5 hours south of Chicago)

Education: AA, Danville Area Community College, BS sociology, Illinois State University

Research Interests: substance use, vaping, delinquency

Sadie: If you could choose to do anything for one day, what would you spend your day doing?

Christian: Just being with my inner group and people having dinner, you know—I miss a home-cooked meal from my mother right now.

Sadie: What would be the meal?

Christian: I have been jonesing for her spaghetti for a while. I made spaghetti last tonight—it’s not like hers, no comparison. The selfish part of me would say it would be cool to hang out with Joe Rogan or someone that prominent.

Sadie: What would the topic of conversation be?

Christian: He’s very knowledgeable on psychedelic stuff and wise on substance use and whatnot. He’s a big advocate of that kind of research and I have also been intrigued by the healing properties of those types of substances. It’s been powerful for smoking. They used to use it to help people quit smoking cigarettes and had very good success. It’s hard to get access to it, only a few universities have allowances, so it’s very minute who gets to do research on that.

Sadie: So your ideal day would be Joe Rogan and mom’s spaghetti? (laughs)

Christian: Yeah that’d be good.

Sadie: What about the best job you’ve ever had?

Christian: My best job was definitely my previous job at Illinois State University. I worked in the parking office, and I got a lot of hatred towards that because we’re the people who give you tickets. But they were super good coworkers—it was a place that really cared about you. They were very dedicated to investing in me, which made me want to invest in them. Plus I got to make some crazy videos for them. For one video we did a clown car— we took my little Miata and made it look like we had 30 or 40 people get out of the car. I did edits each time a new person came out. It turned out great.

Sadie: It sounds funny! Favorite music era and favorite song from that era?

Christian: The ’05 emo rock stuff. I’ve got two tattoos inspired by Three Days Grace, Saint Asonia stuff. Probably my favorite song from that era is “Never Too Late”, that was an influential song for me. And I always dabbled with Green Day, that’s always been my number two. I really want to go to Seattle to explore, you know Kurt Cobain and that type of influence in that area.

A front facing photo of Georgia Plotkin, from the knees up. She is sitting on cement stairs outside, and is looking into the camera and smiling.
Georgia Plotkin

Georgia Plotkin

Hometown: New Orleans (five minutes from downtown)

Education: BA sociology, minors in art history and creative writing, Colorado University Boulder

Research Interests: food studies, anthropogenic climate change

Sadie: Tell me a little bit about where you grew up.

Georgia: I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. I went to a private high school, middle school, and elementary school, and I graduated from high school with 70 students in the class. Everyone knew each other. There were a lot of similarities, culturally, that I didn’t share with other people. There are a lot of interesting cultural venues in New Orleans, such as Mardi Gras groups or marching groups and all that, and that’s historically left to non-Jews, or just white people in general and certain religious groups. I either, systematically or not, was left out of those as a Jew not partaking in those cultures, so I didn’t really get that access. So I had a weird social life. It was kind of the first interaction I had being on the outside, in terms of a cultural social space even from a really young age I was aware that I was on the outside and I was a minority.

Sadie: New Orleans to Pullman must be a culture shift, but what we lack in marching bands we make up for with natural beauty! What natural phenomenon or active nature would you want to see if it was guaranteed to be safe with no limits?

Georgia: I could name like six. I would love to see the Yellowstone Caldera erupt and see what would happen in terms of fissures and the earth breaking, overall exhuming of gases, and temperature and climate feedback changes. I would love to see what would happen. And that’s something that’s also just been stressing me out, so….

Sadie: That’s a great one. Okay, if you opened a restaurant, what would the house specialty be?

Georgia: I love cooking, I’m not good at cooking, but I love it. My specialty would be a white bolognese instead of a normal bolognese, so it’s a cream base versus a red base. I would use Italian style turkey sausage, carrots, onions, garlic sautéed up nice and good with some chicken stock and let it reduce. Definitely homemade rigatoni of course, teach myself how to do that, and fly in the semolina flour from wherever. Maybe one day Guy Fieri will come and tell me if I did a good job!

Sadie: I would be eating that all day, just by your description it sounds like you’re an amazing cook.

Georgia: Yeah cooking as a form of transformation and creation. The process of watching an onion sauté in a pan to me is like an act of meditation, an act of self-care.

A front facing photo of Shekinah Hoffman, from the shoulders up. She is looking into the camera and smiling.
Shekinah Hoffman

Shekinah Hoffman

Hometown: Palling, New York

Education: BA communications, American University/Colorado State University, MA sociology, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Research Interests: gender and work

Sadie: Can you tell me about your master’s thesis research?

Shekinah: My master’s thesis is what I want to continue working on for my dissertation. I interviewed women from Las Vegas and the Midwest in the casino industry about sexual harassment, work-life balance, and motherhood to understand the gender leadership gap.

Sadie: And what would you say was your big finding?

Shekinah: The casino industry is very male dominated, and when you’re thinking about the gender leadership gap, it’s very similar to other industries. I think what is unique about gaming and the factors that play into why there aren’t as many women in leadership or diversity in leadership in general are two things: It’s a 24/7 business, so that puts strains on quality of work-life, especially working mothers; and it’s a very hypersexualized industry, obviously. So it’s like, how can women be treated seriously as leaders when they’ve never really been treated seriously and always been this sexualized image? Sexual harassment is super rampant, so that was a big thing, too.

Sadie: That’s very interesting work. What would you say is the most impressive thing you know how to do?

Shekinah: My dad is a woodworker and growing up he always had the mentality that I could do anything my brother can do, so I learned how to operate the forklift and heavy machinery and to use power tools. So there’s that—like, “screw your gender norms.” And I was a division one swimmer, and have been an athlete my whole life. So I’m stronger than I look, and I can lift pretty heavy weights. I taught kettlebells.

Sadie: Both super impressive. What about the best job you previously had?

Shekinah: I loved my old job at UNLV. I founded two programs for kids from low-income communities, basically teaching high school kids. I didn’t think I would enjoy teaching and I was kind of nervous about it but it ended up being part of the reason why I decided to continue with my PhD: I actually fell in love with teaching.

Sadie: What were you teaching?

Shekinah: I had two programs. One was called the Young Executive Scholars Hospitality and Tourism program (YES). It’s basically about hospitality and leadership. All the kids grew up in Las Vegas and have perceptions of the gaming industry but might not know that there’s every career you can think of that goes into one of those buildings. So we introduce them to all these careers, create these once in a lifetime moments, and show them leadership roles. The other is called Battle Born Girls Innovate. It introduces eighth-grade girls into STEM and STEAM careers in Nevada.

Jair Johnson

Hometown: Palm Bay, Florida (central)

Education: AA Eastern Florida State College, BA criminal justice, minor sociology; Florida Atlantic University, MA sociology, Florida Atlantic University

Research Interests: social class, family studies, inequality, qualitative methods, the Black family and race, social psychology

Sadie: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Jair: Something that I am very passionate about is my friendships. I don’t know if this is actually a gift, but, for me, my very close friends back home, the relationships that we cultivate, those mean the world to me.

Sadie: Are these people from a certain point in your life?

Jair: Being in Palm Bay and then going to college was kind of a good escape. But essentially at FAU, I met so many different types of people that are now spread all over the United States, and I’m grateful to say a couple of them are really good friends.

Sadie: What do you like to do with your friends?

Jair: I like to just go out and talk, I like to play pool. You know meeting up at places. Something I definitely love doing is going out with friends to eat sushi, going to different food places, any social type of thing catching up. Just being able to spend time together.

Sadie: Love a good sushi roll. If you could own the world’s largest collection of anything, what would you own?

Jair: There’s this thing called a Funko Pop. It’s a collectible action figure kind of thing, but it’s like a mold of anything. I collect those now. I have friends that have over 200. I have, like, 14. I don’t want 200, but if I could, I would collect more, but it’s just not really realistic.

Sadie: What’s your favorite one that you own now?

Jair: I have a Stan Lee. When I first bought it, it was $80—a very expensive hobby. But he’s amazing in terms of the Marvel world. Right now it’s worth $105 because he passed away. I bought it about nine days before he passed away. He’s someone that I like because he did a lot of work and advanced the Marvel characters, especially for Black people. So I have a certain level of respect, and his creative genius with Spiderman, stuff like that. That’s my favorite one.

Sadie: That’s super cool. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Jair: The state of society—about social issues and how things are pretty bad right now in terms of, as a country, we’re so divided. I think the standard for the value of life has really become questioned in these times, so I can just talk about that for 40 minutes easily.

A front facing photo of Ish Green, from the shoulders up. They are looking into the camera and smiling.
Ish Green

Ish Green

Hometown: Redding, California (NorCal, 1 hour south of Oregon)

Education: BA religious studies, UC Davis

Research interests: social justice movements, environmental concerns and environmental justice, sociology of the environment, climate change, societal collapse

Sadie: What were you up to before grad school?

Ish: I worked in a lot of crisis intervention and direct social services kinds of jobs, and then I became interested in studying the sociology of the environment and climate change. I became a climate change activist with Extinction Rebellion and that led me to apply to study the macro-level issues we’re facing.

Sadie: What kind of work did you do with Extinction Rebellion?

Ish: Extinction Rebellion does nonviolent direct action to force governments and corporations to address the climate crisis that we are in. I became part of a Los Angeles chapter. It’s a global movement that started in the UK in 2018, and I participated in a lot of different aspects, but primarily outreach to grow the movement as well as jail support for our members who were participating in civil disobedience and being arrested.

Sadie: That sounds like amazing experience and work. What is a natural phenomenon or act of nature that you would see if you could?

Ish: I would really love to go see the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

Sadie: That would be awesome. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend, no limits?

Ish: If there were no limits, I would spend it traveling abroad. I really love to travel, see new places, experience new cultures.

Sadie: Where would you go, where would be top of the list?

Ish: I think the top of the list would be somewhere that’s going to be underwater soon from climate change, so probably like Venice or maybe Bangladesh.

Sadie: Totally, smart.

Ish: You thought you could ask me a question that wouldn’t be depressing! (laughs)

Sadie: (laughs) We just can’t get away from it! What’s the place you’ve been that you enjoyed the most?

Ish: The most recent travel I’ve done was to Japan, and it was just phenomenal. I would love to go back and travel more. I didn’t get to do as much as I would have liked and it’s a really big country.

Sadie: So you’ve spent a lot of time in different places?

Ish: Yeah, I taught English for three months in Korea, and it’s a great place for me. I studied abroad in Turkey in college for four months and traveled to lots of different places. I really like it.

Sadie: How does Pullman rank, where would it fall?

Ish: Top of the list. Absolutely.

A front facing photo of Kiley Simpson, from the shoulders up. They are looking into the camera and smiling.
Kiley Simpson

Kiley Simpson

Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana (way at the top right on the Texas border)

Education: BA French, English minor; BA philosophy, gender studies minor, Centenary College of Louisiana

Research Interests: consensual non-monogamy, gender, sexualities, family studies

Sadie: If we were doing karaoke night, what would be your go-to song?

Kiley: You know, I never have a good go-to song. But when I was a freshman—my college takes all of the freshmen to Paris every year—we were at our hotel and they had karaoke going on. And I was like, you know, what’s a really good song to sing for karaoke? “Creep” by Radiohead (laughs). So I guess that’s my go-to.

Sadie: A classic and everybody knows the words. Do you speak French well?

Kiley: I actually used to be fluent. I originally was going to get my master’s in teaching the French language so that I could teach in French immersion schools in Louisiana. But I have since then lost a lot of fluency ’cause I haven’t really been able to speak or read a bunch. But I have published a book in French that is in the Library of Congress and in the French National Library.

Sadie: Oh, my gosh, amazing! What was the book?

Kiley: It’s called Charles and Ella, it’s not my original book. It was written by a woman in the 1800s: Sidonie de la Houssaye, she was a native Louisianian. It’s so cool because the stories that she’s written are absolutely insane, not what you would expect from the 1800s. This was one of the milder ones, but she published all of her books in newspapers, so my job was to transcribe it, edit it, and make sure that everything was up to par, that kind of stuff. I had to edit the French language that was in it, and that’s why it’s in the French National Library. I was also editor-in-chief for a while of our French-language newspaper. I got to go meet the French consultant and my newspaper was sent all over France. It’s cool.

Sadie: My next question was going to be what’s the most impressive thing you know how to do, but everything you said is super impressive, and the way it’s been recognized is really cool.

Kiley: Truly both of those things that I mentioned. But most importantly, the newspaper was the reason that Louisiana was accepted into the International Organization of The Francophonie. There’s a 100-page dossier that was put together and a lot of the efforts that my college friends, professors, and I made were in that document, and that’s why we get to be internationally recognized. Thinking about it, it doesn’t feel very real that I got to be part of that.