I am a sociologist currently working at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. I am currently teaching a poverty studies course with a strong service-learning component. Students will engage in service at a day program for adults with severe mental illness as well as a community ministry for individuals experiencing homelessness. I also teach courses in introduction to sociology and race and ethnic relations. In the past, I have developed and taught courses in family sociology and social statistics. I have also developed courses in medical sociology and health disparities which I am prepared to teach.
My research focuses primarily on health and illness, with a specific focus on social stress and mental health. My current research interests include social stress related to severe mental illness, as well as religious institutions as points of access to mental health care.
My dissertation research dealt with the exchange of social support within intimate partner dyads as a predictor of depressive and anxiety symptoms. I found that intimate partner dyads in which both partners perceived more support had a stronger relationship between support and mental health. In other words, the relationship between your level of perceived support and your mental health is stronger if your partner also perceives higher levels of support.
My thesis research dealt with the effects of various aspects of religion on mental health outcomes. Using longitudinal data, I found that spiritual help-seeking (turning to religion for help with daily problems) is associated with worse mental health and that this relationship is mediated by personal mastery. This implies that relying on religion for help with one’s daily problems is associated with a lower sense of personal mastery, which may harm mental health. I also found that religious service attendance is associated with better mental health and that this relationship is mediated by social support. In other words, attending religious services may be a source of social support which improves mental health.
Additionally, I co-authored an article on the relationship between time-clustering of stressful life events on substance use among young adults. We found that adults who experience multiple stressful life events within a short time period are significantly more likely to exhibit substance use behavior.
My long-term agenda includes active engagement in both teaching and research. As a doctoral student at Georgia State University, I served as the Teaching Associate for the Department of Sociology. In this role, I had the opportunity to study pedagogy and best teaching practices in greater depth. I also served as a peer mentor for other graduate student instructors. I am passionate about teaching and continue to seek opportunities to improve as a teacher.