Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship Winner(s)

The Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a new or continuing graduate student who began her or his study in a community college or technical school.

      Winner: Sarah Bruch, University of Wisconsin, Madison

      1st Honorable Mention: Emir Estrada-Loy, University of Southern California

      2nd Honorable Mention: Miho Iwata, University of Connecticut


The Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship is given annually to a graduate student in sociology who began her or his college career at a two-year community or technical college. This year’s committee had an especially difficult time selecting from the many excellent candidates. Each possessed qualities that Beth embodied, including: excellent scholarship and overall academic potential, especially in the areas of gender, aging, and social inequality; and a commitment to teaching, mentoring and social activism, especially in a community college setting. As a result, in addition to our scholarship winner, we also selected two honorable mentions.

Our honorable mention winners receive complimentary membership in Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and registration and banquet tickets for the SWS, the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), and the American Sociological Association (ASA) summer meetings in Atlanta, GA.

The first honorable mention winner is Emir Estrada-Loy. Emir is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California. After immigrating to the US from Mexico after completing high school, Emir worked alongside her mother cleaning houses. She enrolled in an English as a Second Language course at Long Beach City College where she also took her first sociology course. Seeing parallels between her life and those of other domestics discussed in works like Domestica by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo motivated Emir to pursue sociology as a career. After receiving her Associate’s degree, Emir transferred to UCLA where she graduated cum laude with majors in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies. As a graduate student at USC, she now works closely with her mentor Hondagneu-Sotelo studying the children of immigrant street vendors and domestics who also work alongside their parents in these two informal occupations.

The second honorable mention is awarded to Miho Iwata. While living in Japan Miho earned her first A.A. degree in English. She worked fulltime for five years to pay off her student debt and save money to immigrate to the US to continue her education. She attended Chaffey Community College in CA where, after enrolling in her first sociology course, she switched her major from psychology to sociology. She completed her B.A. in sociology at CSU San Bernardino, and with strong support and encouragements from her advisors, decided to pursue graduate training to contribute to the alleviation of social inequalities. Miho is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, where she completed a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies in 2009. Like much of Beth’s own work, Miho’s research examines the intersections of multiple social inequalities. For her master’s thesis, she examined the process of ethno-racialization and gendering among Brazilian migrants in Japan. Her dissertation explores Japanese conceptualizations of race and contemporary racism experienced by foreign populations living in Japan. She is also engaged in a collaborative book project with Dr. Bandanya Purkayastha and others exploring the unique aging experiences of Asian-Americans.

The 2010 Scholarship carries a stipend of $3500 from SWS, to be used to support the pursuit of graduate studies, as well as one-year student memberships in SWS, SSSP, and ASA. Additionally, the winner receives travel support and complimentary registration and banquet/reception tickets for the summer meetings of each sponsoring organization.

We are delighted to award the 2010 Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship to Sarah Bruch. Sarah was motivated to study sociology based largely on the experience of being a single teen parent on welfare during the early 1990s, an experience that continues to inform her research interests. She wrote in her application essay that after graduating from high school as a junior, she essentially gave up on her dream of attending college. However, one day she found herself on a bus driving past North Seattle Community College when she decided to get off the bus to check it out. She enrolled in her first course when her daughter was four months old. At NSCC she found supportive instructors willing to bend the rules to allow her to bring her daughter to class. Unfortunately, government support was not nearly as forthcoming and Sarah was kicked off welfare for enrolling in classes that were not part of an approved work training program. Sarah persevered, however, taking multiple part-time jobs to support herself and her daughter as she earned her Associate’s degree. She transferred to the University of Washington where she received her BA in political science and later her Master’s in public administration. She began graduate studies in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. Her master’s thesis explored how social policies affect levels of civic and political engagement among the poor, with a special focus on the disempowering paternalism of welfare. Her current dissertation work explores how school contexts affect various mechanisms of difference and exclusion. While pursuing her Ph.D. Sarah has begun teaching at Madison Area Technical College, in part, because she views this as an opportunity to “pass on the encouragement I got.” For her outstanding research and mentoring in these and other pursuits, we are pleased to recognize Sarah Bruch as the 2010 Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Past Winners of the Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship