After Lewis & Clark

SOAN majors continue on to graduate studies and professional work in a wildly diverse set of fields. Our students enter master’s and doctoral programs in our disciplines and in areas that range from medicine to urban planning, law to secondary education, public policy to cultural studies. Professional paths are just as varied.

Here a just a few examples:

  • PhD programs in sociology and anthropology at Harvard, Northwestern, Portland State
  • Master’s programs: human rights at Columbia; international affairs at Tufts
  • Position with ethnographic research firm in Minneapolis
  • Manager/owner of Hallowed Halls recording studio

Alumni Profiles

2000,  has joined OPAL as the new Organizing Director. After serving as OPAL’s Board Chair for the last three years, and maintaining a deep connection to OPAL through her work at APANO – the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon – Khanh brings years of experience and a deep commitment to Environmental and Climate Justice, plus decades organizing and overseeing campaigns, to our movement space.

Khanh is Vietnamese-American, and that identity shapes a lot of how she sees the world. “It has shaped how I understand US imperialism, and also driven me to want to understand the systemic causes of inequality, both globally and locally. I have beloved family and friends in Vietnam, and so when folks talk about the Global South being the most impacted by climate change, they’re not just an abstraction to me, but people who I love and am willing to fight for.”  For more information, see:

One of Kelly Aldinger’s favorite experiences at Lewis & Clark was writing her SOAN senior thesis with Professor Mechlinski.  She received a SAAB grant to travel and conduct research in Senegal and felt that the process of writing a thesis helped her think deeper than ever before. SOAN taught Kelly to understand that society does not simply exist, but is affected by powerful systems that shape the world we live in. She learned how to question, analyze, theorize, and communicate effectively.  In addition, she learned about the complexities of power and privilege and this has continued to inform her thinking since graduating. After graduating, Kelly pursued a Master of Social Work  (and was able to waive two graduate courses because of her SOAN background).  She is now pursuing a Doctorate in Nurse Practice as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at OHSU.  In both of her careers, understanding social forces and systems has been incredibly useful.  Kelly believes SOAN skills are applicable to a number of fields, including nonprofit and social justice oriented sectors.  To find a job, Kelly recommends maintaining strong connections with previous supervisors, mentors, and colleagues, and keeping LinkedIn profiles up to date (she once obtained a great job opportunity from a LinkedIn recruiter)!

Upon graduating from Lewis & Clark, Laresa Beck worked as a program coordinator for a nonprofit in Colorado called The Women’s Center.  In this job, the two main SOAN skills she used were being able to effectively function in a new environment while also learning about it and being able to look at how people and institutions function together with a critical mindset.  After this job, Laresa went to graduate school to get a Master’s in Education.  She now works for Portland Public Schools as a School Climate Coach where she continues to put her SOAN skills to use regularly.  As a climate coach it is important for Laresa to understand how people exist together in society and as a community, a skill that she learned in the SOAN department.  Additionally she feels like SOAN taught her to approach all situations with both a critical eye and with empathy.  Laresa often feels that there is a strong connection between her undergraduate degree and current job and owes much of her insight to individuals in the SOAN department, family members, and coworkers.

While he was a student at Lewis & Clark, Craig Beebe did not know what career he wanted to pursue but he did know that he enjoyed studying what shapes society and culture from a number of different angles.  He loved discussion and reading heavy classes where he could explore deeper understanding of the subject matter with his classmates.  He loved being able to question the notion that there is a a single “correct” interpretation of facts, and being able to explore his own position and biases.  Craig wrote his SOAN thesis on the history and future of Portland’s freeway system, viewed in part through an urban social theory lens.  The information he learned while writing his thesis continued to serve him as he has pursued policy and regional planning.  Craig got his Master’s in Geography from UC Davis and now works in government and public affairs at Metro, the greater Portland area’s regional planning agency.  Before this job, Craig was worked at 1000 Friends of Oregon, a land use planning advocacy nonprofit.  1000 Friends of Oregon offers a variety of internships every year for undergraduate students and recent graduates.

After college Mayana Bonapart was recruited to be a canvas director for Environment Oregon/ Fund for the Public Interest.  She lasted three days in this job before realizing that her heart was not showing up in the praxis of the work, though she believed in the mission of the organization.  After she quit, Mayana set out to find a job that better suited her passions, values and prior experiences.  She created an excel spreadsheet with over 30 jobs she was pursuing before landing a job with Impact NW.  While working at Impact NW, Maya realized that social services programs were being defunded because of the political context at the time.  With additional  credentials and experience Mayana felt that she would be better equipped to enhance social service organizations by incorporating social justice into their visions.  Mayana is now pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at Columbia University.  While many of Mayana’s peers at Columbia studied psychology, Mayana feels that her SOAN background has given her a unique insight in the classroom and in the way she approaches social work

Gaby Canjura Hermann had an overwhelmingly positive experience with the SOAN major at Lewis & Clark.  Some of her favorite readings that continue to influence her daily life and the work she does as a behavioral health professional include: On Violence by Hannah Arendt, Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault, Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod, and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.  After graduating from Lewis & Clark, Gaby served for a year with AmeriCorps as a health educator in school based health clinics.  Gaby loved her experience and recommends AmeriCorps to anyone interested in public service work.  She now works for at the Edgewood Center for Children and Families working with young adults on building their independent living skills.  The main skill she learned from the SOAN major that she carries with her today is cultural humility.  SOAN gave Gaby a framework that encourages her to think about agency and structure.  Since she works with individuals who have undergone trauma, understanding the complexities of violence has been especially useful for her.  Gaby has found that social services agencies value individuals with degrees in Sociology and Anthropology. 

One of Cate Capsalis’ favorite classes at Lewis & Clark was Social Theory with Bob Goldman.  In Social Theory she remembers making connections that she hadn’t thought of before.  Cate thinks you cannot finish a SOAN degree without shifting and expanding your worldview.  Since graduating from Lewis & Clark, Cate pursued a degree in nursing and now works as an Emergency Department RN at an inner city public trauma hospital.  With an understanding of cultural relativity, Cate is able to relate to people from all walks of life, which she uses on a daily basis in the hospital where she works.  Her experience in the SOAN department taught Cate to meet people where they are instead of imposing her ideas and biases onto them.  At Lewis & Clark, Cate was able to sharpen her listening and interviewing skills while writing her thesis; these skills have helped her ask pertinent questions to patients she works with in emergency situations.  In addition, she is able to process and rapidly asses subtle changes in patients with the skills she learned at Lewis & Clark.  Cate feels that the ability to communicate effectively is of utmost importance in medicine and that is a skill that was shaped significantly during her time at Lewis & Clark.

At Lewis & Clark, Sierra Clear’s favorite class was called “Reading Ethnography” (now Theory Through Ethnography) which consisted of reading an ethnography a week and discussing the research methods and conclusions formed by the researcher/ author.  This class taught Sierra to love the research that sociologists/ anthropologists do and see herself as somebody who can contribute to conversations about sociology/ anthropology.  The book she read at Lewis & Clark that sticks with her today is The Pastoral Clinic by Angela Garcia because it is about culturally/ socially relevant research but is also presented in a way that is easily digested by the general public.  Sierra now works at Planned Parenthood in a clinical setting.  Sierra feels the SOAN major challenges students to explore relevant research, think critically about this research and develop their own opinions based on the research.  Sierra uses these skills in her job when interacting with patients in a non-judgmental way; she approaches patients with an empathy formed by her experiences with research in the SOAN department.  Sierra found her job at Planned Parenthood on using search words like “community,” “programming,” “assistant,” and “development.”  Aside from working at Planned Parenthood, Sierra is now applying for graduate school in “Human Ecology” programs that build on sociology/ social work backgrounds and public health and research.  In her experience, SOAN has been a wonderful major that balances practical information, theoretical research, and personal investment.

Ever since she was a teenager, Rhiannon Troutman has loved working in retail and always dreamed of opening her own shop.  At Lewis & Clark, Rhiannon’s favorite classes allowed her to work with people and do participant observation.  She loved being able to turn her observations into valuable data.  The most valuable skill Rhiannon learned as a SOAN major is the ability to approach a problem from multiple angles, without judgement.  Since she is able to understand the complexity of people and situations she was a valuable candidate for retail positions.  She quickly moved up in retail from sales clerk to managerial positions which gave her the foundation to open her own shop.  Rhiannon’s SOAN background helped lay the foundation she needed to become a successful small business owner and manage a team of employees.  Rhiannon feels that studying SOAN is beneficial to almost all careers since most jobs require you to interact with other people, whether it be coworkers, a team you manage, clients, or in her case, customers and employees.