The Department of Sociology has selected Mason Bartholomei as the Outstanding Senior of 2023. During his time at WSU, Mason has become known by many as a promising undergraduate student not only because of his academic performance but also because of his professionalism, determination, and commitment to social justice. Faculty noted his strong intellectual curiosity, passion, and dedication to being an engaged sociologist. Mason has been an incredible student, and we are honored to have him as a soon-to-be alum. Learn a bit about Mason, his interests, and his future plans below.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Mason: I am a Sociology major with a double minor in Communications and Health & Society. I lived in the Bay Area of northern California most of my life and finished my K-12 in Lewiston, Idaho. I live in Lewiston, working part-time as a production assistant and reporter at KLEW News broadcast station. At KLEW, I direct live shows, edit, run audio, and during the summer I help shoot stories, live shots, and produce some of my own stories.
We heard you have an internship with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Can you tell us a bit about the work you’ve been doing and your experience?
Mason: I started the internship at the start of fall semester 2022. When I first joined, I was tasked with collecting a literature review for two different research projects. One was for child maltreatment as classified under different ICD-10 codes; and the other was for positive outcomes from Extended Foster Care. From the literature, I was tasked with summarizing the data as well as extrapolating ways the researchers measured positive outcomes of Extended Foster Care and defined child abuse in the state of Washington with ICD-10 codes. Currently, I have been coding different values for different ICD-10 identifiers that align with Washington’s definition of child abuse. Furthermore, I am comparing what is considered child abuse between different western states with Washington’s.
Why did you decide to major in sociology? What does being a sociologist mean to you?
Mason: I was originally a journalism major with a minor in sociology, however, after taking a few sociology courses, something clicked, and I wanted to pursue the field. Being a sociologist means being the person to ask why. The job of the sociologist, even if they are not in sociology in an academic way, is to always critically ask why something is and why, if at all, it should change. I feel disconnected from non-sociology courses because they tend to look at what things are and how to continue what is already established, while sociology both looks at how things are and deconstructs why things are the way they are. Sociology is flexible in other fields as its purpose is to find some utilitarian conclusion to achieve the highest spread of well-being among the citizens of a society. I joined sociology because it seeks to really help people.
What is your favorite sociology class you’ve taken at WSU and why?
Mason: My favorite sociology class is between Climate Change in Your Lifetime with Prof. Dylan Bugden and Social Inequality with Sadie Ridgeway. Both classes got into the practical elements that attracted me to sociology by applying theory to understand the gaps in society. The climate change class was engaging in that it tackles current issues and looks at solutions in different sectors to combat environmental problems. The field of environmental sociology in relation to climate change pulls in younger students as there is a shared existential dread among them. Those courses pushed me into a policy-based track for my future academic career. Social Inequality had group-based projects that resembled developing practical policy methods to solve certain issues in society. In addition, the Climate Change class shaped my belief that one’s environment is a root cause for various other gaps they may face and by changing their surroundings, one can begin to fix inequalities between groups.
We hear you have some exciting graduate school plans. Can you tell us about them?
Mason: I have been accepted into the University of Oregon’s Public Administration master’s degree program. I also applied to other public policy programs and am waiting to hear back from them, but I will most likely attend the University of Oregon. While attending, I will be pursuing an emphasis on housing policy due to the inspirations mentioned in the previous undergraduate classes.