Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Student Success

Sociology boosts career and alt-pop band

Matthew Barron’s interest in sociology started with his Grade 8 social studies teacher, who himself went on to attain a PhD in the field.

“Over the course of my high school education we had many illuminating discussions pertaining to the social sciences.”

Matthew likes the focus of sociology on how and why societies develop, uncovering the good and bad sides of humanity.

“Ultimately, though, sociology is a very empowering field of study, offering many theories for changing and improving societies.”

The best part of his experience at TRU was the close relationships he developed with professors, often taking advantage of long, one-on-one conversations.

“There was much to be learned through formal lectures, but developing a personal connection with the professors was what took my learning experience to a deeper level.”

Matthew’s career path has taken him to working with at-risk youth and helping an international climate-change NGO.

He currently works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit organization that provides mentoring services, matching volunteers with children and youth in need of guidance.

“It's fulfilling to see my work have a direct impact on those around me, and sociology provided a necessary education for this employment.”

Matthew is also a member of Van Damsel, an alternative-pop band that owes much of its success to his Bachelor of Arts.

“Today more than ever, success in the music industry requires knowledge and skills beyond simply writing and performing music. Independent artists must work all facets of the business, including networking, grant-writing, developing a brand identity, relating to the audience, marketing and promotion, and touring.”

His advice to students: “Do not underestimate the power of personal connections. Don't get so lost in your studies that you forget about the bigger picture. Humans are social creatures, and the connections we build can open a lot of doors. Anyone can get good grades; differentiate yourself by being a great person that others want to know.”

Matthew Barron
It's fulfilling to see my work have a direct impact on those around me, and sociology provided a necessary education for this employment. Matthew Barron

He came for baseball, stayed for sociology

Growing up in Whitehorse, Yukon, James Semaschuk loved baseball. At age 15, he followed his dreams to Penticton, where he played for a AAA bantam team.

He succeeded, moved up a division to Kelowna, and was soon courted by area universities. He picked TRU and joined the WolfPack.

At the same time, James had a fascination with the behaviour of criminals — what makes them tick? Sociology, especially the way it is taught at TRU, provided the answers.

“Not many universities have professors that are willing to take time out of their busy schedules and family lives to provide additional mentorship.

“One of the most influential and special moments was when Camilla Sears brought her exceptional background in criminology to TRU. She challenged her students in a class setting and managed to get them to produce exceptional work.”

Working with young people in Yukon’s criminal justice system, James draws on what he learned about re-integration at TRU.

“While engaging in many criminology based classes at TRU, it was evident that the reintegration process of an offender is hands down the most pertinent.”

His education has allowed James to take up an occupation that emphasizes his interests.

“Pursuing sociology at TRU has had many lasting memories but has also provided the foundation for many current and future successes.”

James Semaschuk
Not many universities have professors that are willing to take time out of their busy schedules and family lives to provide additional mentorship. James Semaschuk

Sociology provides new perspective on the world

Kassie Colonna was intrigued by sociology right from the beginning — the way it gets you to see the world in a different way.

“It makes you think about how society influences people — anywhere from the way girls and boys start to take gender roles to the way society labels things as deviant.”

Kassie appreciates the small classes at TRU.

“You get comfortable with your classmates and professors so it generates really good discussions and opinions — it has a really open environment.”

She has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and plans to add a social work degree.

“It allows me to understand a lot about the social world, which is useful in everyday life and will benefit me when I continue my education.”

Kassie Colonna
It allows me to understand a lot about the social world, which is useful in everyday life and will benefit me when I continue my education. Kassie Colonna