William Watkins earned a Master of Arts in Criminology at the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s in Psychology at the University of Michigan, where he also minored in Criminal Justice. Always having an interest in the social sciences as well as a passion for learning, Watkins decided to continue his education and pursue his PhD. The doctoral program in Sociology at UCF drew his attention due to individual faculty mentorship that is provided as well as the freedom and flexibility granted in both research and teaching that is necessary to help students develop into professionals of their own right.
Currently, Watkins’s research interests lie in the sociology of substance use and abuse. He also teaches courses on substance abuse as well as criminology. On track to graduate in the spring 2012, Watkins plans to remain in academia by taking the education he received at UCF to another institution of higher learning where he can continue his work in the field of research while still serving as an educator to young minds in the classroom.
Xavier L. Guadalupe-Diaz received his BS and MS in Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. During his search for doctoral programs, UCF was among his top picks because of the outstanding, nationally-recognized faculty working in areas such as feminist criminology, domestic violence, and gender. "The best thing about our doctoral program is how open and available faculty are to working with and mentoring graduate student research," says Guadalupe-Diaz. "There are so many opportunities to get involved in research."
Originally a biology pre-med major, Guadalupe-Diaz ultimately switched because of "the thought-provoking and challenging world of sociological inquiry," he shares. "I loved that it moved beyond the basic memorization and lab applications I was doing in math and science; how social contexts shape and influence human behavior seemed much more complex and intriguing," he says.
Guadalupe-Diaz is working on a multitude of research initiatives, such as his study of the wage gap between lesbian and heterosexual women, the prevalence and perceptions of intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ, and perceptions of neighborhood safety among immigrants living in South Florida.
Guadalupe-Diaz received the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award, which recognizes emerging leaders in teaching sociology. He has additionally been awarded the Sociology department’s Graduate Student Teaching award, which recognizes excellence in teaching by a doctoral student. Guadalupe-Diaz plans to graduate Summer 2013 and intends to remain in academia as a professor and researcher.
After studying art, art history, and anthropology, and political science, Rachel Rayburn realized that she could study all of those disciplines as a sociologist. She earned a MA in Applied Sociology at UCF and decided to stay to pursue her PhD in Sociology. Rayburn likes how fulfilling her graduate experience has been so far at UCF. “The Department of Sociology has been helpful in many ways, such as keeping me employed with a position that interests me and facilitating conviviality among my peers,” she shares.
Rayburn has conducted research on how homeless individuals maintain romantic relationships and is beginning to study the topic of women at gun shows. Her first paper, “Homeless Men in Alcoholics Anonymous: Barriers to Achieving and Maintaining Sobriety” has been accepted for publication in the Applied Social Science journal. Rayburn received a Certificate of Recognition for that paper at the annual Graduate Student of Distinction Paper Competition given by the Mid-South Sociological Society in 2007.