Meet Our Peer Advisors for 2022-2023

Our peer advisors are Sociology students who can answer your questions and share their experiences regarding the Sociology major, sociology courses and sociological interests.

Ellie Dunn

Pronouns: She/Her

Email: ellied [at] stanford.edu 

About Ellie:

Your favorite class/professor (and why): I loved Soc 298: The Social Psychology of Contemporary American Politics with Professor Robb Willer. It was such an interesting blend of sociology, psychology, and political science. Higher-level classes like this one tend to be more discussion-based and have a mix of grad students and undergrads. Some of the readings on the syllabus were even authored by other students taking the class - such a cool discussion opportunity! Professor Willer is not just a giant in the field, but an engaging and enthusiastic professor. I would arrive to class excited to talk about the readings and would leave feeling like I had learned so much from the discussion. 

Favorite book (and why): I can't decide between the three books of the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemison. I have always really enjoyed sci-fi/fantasy books, but Jemison takes it to another level with a magic system and world-building that highlights a lot of sociological themes like power and exploitation; family and motherhood; and environmental devastation and responsibility. But don't just take it from me! She is the only author to have won three consecutive Hugo awards - one for each book in the trilogy. Also, as an honorable mention: Her book of short stories How Long 'til Black Future Month is outstanding. 

Your career goals and future plans: There are a few different paths I am considering right now. First, I am working on sharpening my data science skills because there is so much data out there (from the prison industrial complex, from schools, from government programs at every level) that could be useful in guiding policy makers and non-profits in their efforts to improve various social services and reduce inequality. I would love to find an organization doing work I believe in and do data analysis for them to help them maximize their positive impact. I also am really interested in improving higher educational access, so I am considering working in college admissions or college counseling with the specific goal of improving access in populations and areas that tend to be overlooked. To this end, I am currently doing research about rural and low-income students at Stanford! We'll see where I end up! 

Claudia Nmai

Pronouns: She/Her

Email: canmai [at] stanford.edu

About Claudia:

Your favorite class/professor (and why): It’s so hard to choose a favorite because I’ve loved every Sociology class I’ve taken, but I truly enjoyed SOC 176, The Social Life of Neighborhoods, with Professor Forrest Stuart. It’s changed how I think about cities and neighborhoods, and I still reference so many of the things I learned in that class! I also loved that we spent the quarter researching and observing a neighborhood of our choice, tracking the racial history, social changes, and development in that area. If the class is offered again, I highly recommend it!

Favorite book (and why)Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (a Stanford alum too!) is my all-time favorite book! It tells the story of eight generations of descendants of two half-sisters separated by the transatlantic slave trade. The book explores the dynamics of diasporic identity, heritage, home, and family. I read Homegoing for the first time three years ago, and I still come back to it every summer because of how beautifully written every triumph and tragedy is. It’s a powerful and heartbreaking read, but I truly think it’s worth it!

Your career goals and future plans: Though I will be taking a gap year or two, I plan on pursuing my PhD in Sociology and becoming a professor so that I can continue to further research in the areas of social inequality, culture, and social change, especially as it relates to the criminal-legal system. I also hope to extend beyond the academy and use my work to engage in the community of those that seek to deconstruct the oppressive systems and reimagine new, life-affirming institutions.

Office hours are by appointment in-person or over Zoom to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Please book a time that works for you through my Calendly. If none of the listed times work, feel free to email me a few options that fit your schedule. Looking forward to chatting with you!

Photo of Vanessa Veak

Vanessa Veak

Pronouns: She/They

Email: vveak [at] stanford.edu

Peer Advisor for Winter and Spring of 2022-2023

About Vanessa:

Your favorite class/professor (and why): I also was very fond of SOC 2: Self and Society: Introduction to Social Psychology with Professors Alia Crum and Robb Willer. It was such a refreshing class to be in where the content felt so practical and continues to reveal itself in everyday situations. Discussions were always relevant to date and the interesting perspective of the social forces and implications behind our actions kept me engaged to the point where I decided to TA the course one quarter. Another course I enjoyed was SOC 145: Race and Ethnic Relations in the USA with Professor Matthew Snipp which allowed me to dive deeper into the nuances of race and ethnicity. This course allowed me to expand my knowledge on race and ethnic relations while also giving me academic and historical structure beyond my own experiences and reflections.

Favorite book (and why)The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender will always be my all-time favorite shows. The plot and art feels like an escape from reality while also magnificently integrating culture, elements, balance, history, spiritualism, and politics into a beautiful story. I will literally never get bored rewatching both shows.

Your career goals and future plans: While I am not entirely certain on my future trajectory, I am particularly interested in social work or continuing research for communities that I care for deeply, whether its Southeast Asians, first-gen and/or low-income, queer POC communities, or the intersections amongst them. I am passionate about racial and ethnic justice, education equity, and mental health advocacy, and Sociology has definitely allowed me to freely explore these fields and understand the systemic reasoning behind the effects, further deepening my desire to support this type of work. 

Office hours are by appointment in-person or over Zoom to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Please book a time that works for you through my Calendly. If none of the listed times work, feel free to email me a few options that fit your schedule. Looking forward to chatting with you!