Student Research & Special Projects

Sociology Major Jeremy James presents his research "African American Mentorship in Western NC: My Black is Beautiful and It’s Intellectual "

"African American Mentorship in Western NC: My Black is Beautiful and It’s Intellectual"

Student Presenter: Jeremy James
2018 Fall Symposium

African Americans who attend predominantly white institutions may struggle with finding mentorship on campus. This often leads to many Blacks losing interest in classes, completing requirements and obtaining their degree. PWI’s have done a minimal job of assisting students of color adjust to college after getting accepted. Often, they leave black students to find their own peer groups and create their own safe havens on campus. They have done a worse job at ensuring that students of color are able to succeed in their academic career, while obtaining a degree or after.

In this research I want to explore if black students on college campuses across Western North Carolina are experiencing the lack of mentorship. Mentorship in any form, from African American’s or towards African Americans throughout college, can help lead to better job opportunities, a better appreciation for their major, a greater chance in continuing higher education, and a since of belonging on campus. Mentorship provides students with the opportunity to establish lasting connections in the academic world, as well as define what their careers and further education might be like. These academic opportunities help provide a sense of assurance when working towards one’s career. These are just a few of the issues African American’s at PWI’s are facing every semester when they do not receive proper mentorship.

Looking at the numbers for Western North Carolina, the U.S. department of Commerce reported in 2010 that Western North Carolina’s people of color combined for nearly 12 percent of the region. While their counterparts (white’s) account makes up 35 percent of the region. Examining closer, The State of Black Asheville reported that its city is 79 percent white and 13 percent black. While the city’s local college, UNC Asheville reports only 3 percent of the students identified as black, while 87 percent identified as white. I will look to interview African American students across five PWI’s in Western North Carolina to gather their thoughts on, if they view lack of mentorship as an issue on their campus, and if they had proper mentorship throughout or during their college experience do they believe they would be in a better position than they are now. The main topic I look to explore is that African American students need mentorship but are not getting it.


Student Harley Cranock presents research "The Medical Cis-tem is Broken: A Social Media Analysis of the #TransHealthFail Hashtag"

"The Medical Cis-tem is Broken: A Social Media Analysis of the #TransHealthFail Hashtag"

2018 Fall Symposium 

Discrimination against transgender individuals is more than a social issue; it is a health issue, and a global epidemic at that. The fear, hatred, and general ignorance with which the current cisnormative society approaches transgender individuals creates significant barriers to accessing quality healthcare. While interacting with healthcare providers transgender individuals face a myriad of discriminations ranging from microaggressions to outright assault. These interactions, which at best deter transgender individuals from seeking medical attention and at best put their lives in danger, have been termed by the transgender community online as “Trans Health Fails.” In 2015, the organization MyTransHealth posted on Twitter asking for transgender individuals to share their #TransHealthFails. The ensuing 3,000+ tweets in this hashtag provide a valuable look into the health inequity transgender individuals face. This research takes the form of a retrospective longitudinal analysis, examining tweets in the hashtag from July 30th 2015 to July 30th 2018. Grounded coding was chosen as the analytical approach so as to allow the experiences of the individuals to speak for themselves, rather than imposing the researcher’s own ideas.


Student Lila Sheon presents research "There's a Haint Up in Here Somewhere--Paranormal Belief Construction, Experience, and Meaning-Making in the American South"

"There's a Haint Up in Here Somewhere--Paranormal Belief Construction, Experience, and Meaning-Making in the American South"

2018 Fall Symposium

Belief in some form of paranormal--ranging from traditional Christian ideas of resurrection and Virgin Birth to aliens and clairvoyance--is the norm, with 90% of Southern Focus Poll (SPF) respondents believing in one or more forms (Rice, 2003). The notion of ghosts and the paranormal “violate a number of binaries” that dominate Western culture: life or death, past or present, body or soul. (Baker and Bader, 2014). Rather than “or,” the paranormal exists within the and, where life and death are deeply intertwined. The paranormal subsist somewhere between conventional time and space, and belief in such leads to a “culturally powerful position” wherein participants can “shatter” the binary constraints of reality (Baker and Bader, 2014). Believers in the paranormal, ranging from use of astrology to communicating with the spirits of the deceased, create meaning from these encounters. This is an exploration of how believers in the paranormal from the south construct, experience, and make meaning from paranormal belief across varying social locations.


2018 Fall Symposium Student Presenters in Anthropology


Presentations - Spring 2018

Emily Navarro   “Working Toward a Pedagogy of Activism:  How Whites Approach Issues of Social Justice Interpersonally”
Madeline Christopher   “A City In Red: The Effects of Redlining and Urban Renewal on Black Women in Asheville”
Roan Farb  “It Gets Blurrier: Redefining Queer Success Through the "It Gets Better" Project”
Amanda Hagstrom   “La Operación”
Jeff Lauer    “The Transformative Power of Worker-Owned Cooperatives”
Lila Sheon   “Seeing is Believing: Paranormal Belief Construction in the American South”
Tara Thompson  “Youth Participation in Athletics as a Deterrence from Juvenile Delinquency”
Daniel Zeitlen   “I Can't Breathe: Musical Protests in the Black Lives Matter Movement”
Jacob Bradley  “Weaving the Narrative: Material Culture Analysis of the Elegiac Patchwork of Selections from The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt”
Benjamin Brown   “A Liberal Mystique: Pragmatist Reflections on Contemporary American Life”
Jamie Calabria   “My Business Ethics Brings All The Consumers To The Yard: Analyzing The Existence Of Ethical Corporations Under Capitalism”
Eva Marsh   “Flying Under The Gaydar: How Femme Queer Women Navigate Visibility, Identity, And Partnerships”
Page Nevel   “According To Them: Community-Based Participatory Needs Assessment Of A Local Public Housing Community”
Olivia Patterson   “Diversity In Children's Literature: An Examination Of Books In Asheville Elementary Schools”
Christina Young   “Influence of Religiosity on Parental Discussion of Sexual Violence”
Beryl Fulford   “Exploring Kinesthetic Intimacy In Asheville’s Blues-Fusion Dance Community”
Ethnographic Discovery Through Material Objects
Hadas Baron, Will Frisbee, Kristin Goodwin, Emma Hertel, Kaila Hubbs, Savanna Lloyd, Jordan Lor, Elizabeth Segal, Lydia Senghas, Brandi Sibley, Christian Smith, Sonya Thorbjornsen

Internship Poster Presentations
Jeremy James - Pisgah Legal Services  
Auden Smith – MountainTrue
Brooklyn Baker - Mountain Child Advocacy Center 
Abigail Collins - Pisgah Legal Services
Breanna Mayeski - Pisgah Legal: Domestic Violence
Davi Cheshire - BeLoved Asheville
Tia Foster - Big Brother Big Sister Western NC 
Abigail Thigpen - Beloved Asheville
Timothy Harris - Veterans Restoration Quarters 
Giacomo Riva - OpenDoors Asheville
Daniel Suber  - Word on the Street

Presentations - Fall 2017

Dylan Crowe   "Teaching with the Student in Mind: An Ethnographic Study on the Practice of Empathetic Teaching Methodologies for Middle School Students as a Tutor" 
David Dickerson   "Between Games: An Ethnographic Study of Live Action Role Playing and the Transitions Between Real Life and Fantasy"
James Wolfe   "Authority Maintenance: Understanding the Function of Leadership and Management at Chipotle Through the Interplay Among the Restaurant Hierarchy" 
Hana Rakhshani   "Dancing in Contact: A Culture Beyond the Dance Floor" 
Colin Wiebe  "Relationships and Farming: A Story of Green Toe Ground"
Becca Wilson   "The Fear Culture of Autism: How Negative Rhetoric and Imagery Harms Those on the Autism Spectrum"
Bailey Ethridge   "Beyond DACA: A Portrait of Latinx Immigrant Realities and Advocacy in Asheville, NC"  
James Burnes   "It's Not All Bluegrass: A look at Black Music Venues in Asheville 1945-1980" 
Kendall Schenck   "The Many Faces of Folklore: Differences in Modes of Marketing"
Sean Welch    "The Veins of Platelet Donation" 
Dylan Newcity   "Less Alien Music: Performativity and Intersectional Place at the Barley's Jazz Jam"
Kelsey Gaffigan   "How Conceptions of Gender influence the Construction of a Gender Binary"
Hannah Brown  "Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth: Analysis of LGBTQ+ Youth Social Organizations Across the U.S."
Jeff Lauer  "Understanding the Transformative Power of Worker Owned Cooperatives" 
Eva Marsh  "Flying Under the Gaydar: How Femme Queer Women Navigate Visibility, Identity, and Partnerships"
Pageant Nevel  "According to Them: Community-Based Participatory Needs Assessment of a Local Housing Development"
Sydney Maisano & Beck Martens   "Community, Structure, and Social Change in Malta: Examining Lived Realities within Europe’s Leading Country for LGBTIQ+ Human Rights"
Beck Martens  "Deadly First Responders: Cases of Fatal Police Brutality Against Mentally Ill Civilians"

More information about these presentations

Presentations - Spring 2017

Michael Auberry "'It Gets Better, Doesn’t It?' An Investigation of Transgender Individuals’ Reactions to Transphobic Acts
Samantha Morse   "Teacher Perspectives On Dealing With Educational Disparities"
Anna Kairoff   "Comment Below: Racialized Perceptions of Women’s Music Videos on Youtube"
Angel Pittman   "The Realities of Students with Disabilities on Campus"
Emily Trongo   "In Their Own Words: An Exploration of Transgender Identity"
Sierra Richardson   "'Dude Looks Like A Lady:' Power and Masculinity in 1980’s Glam Metal Music Videos"
Richard Edwards   "Difference in Achievement: An Analysis of North Carolina’s Educational Inequalities"
Kasey Kelly   "Pinning Motherhood: How Pinterest Users Construct Ideal Parenting"
Charlotte Owens   "Service Or Selfies: Impact And Motivation of Youth Group Missions Trips"
Izaac Bacik   "Sign of The Times: Messaging and Cohesion in the Women’s March on Washington"
Caroline Crowley   "State-By-State Analysis of Health Insurance Coverage and Racial Disparities"
Olivia Dobranowski   "The Framing Strategies of Pro-Life Feminist Organizations"
Kyla Rohe   "Lived Experiences and Public Perceptions Of LGBT+ People in Costa Rica and Uruguay"
Onlai Cheang   "The Culture of Filial Piety as Presented and Practiced in Chinese American Narratives"
Mark Flack   "Following the Rain: Analyzing the Changing Nature of Drought Among the Turkana"
Oliver Richards   "Bridging the Gaps: State Level Restrictions and Policy Recommendations on Abortion Access in U.S. Prisons"
Dennis Thomas   "Retrospectives on Past Social Exclusion"
Ada Lee   "Racism in Crime Reporting and the Ethics of Capital Punishment"
Symone Whatley   "Living with HIV/AIDS: An Examination of Survivors Fighting Through the Stigma"

More information about these presentations

Presentations - Fall 2016

Devin Gibbs "Through the Eyes of a Foster Child: Examining the Experiences of Foster Children Through In-Depth Narratives"
Sara Gerall "Mathematics Education Through Experiential Learning"
Emily Granade  "A Look Inside: Examining the Perspectives of Mental Health Professionals"
Ricardo Hernandez  "How They Hate: An Investigation of Hate Websites From the American South"
Malaney Jackson  "The Power of a Hashtag: Twitter as a Political Tool Against Oppressive Regimes"
Jordan Jurinsky  "Community Perceptions of Academic, Social and Health Behaviors of Rural Adolescents"
Sydney Maisano  "Disability, Identity and Resistance: A Content Analysis of Disability Related Blogs"
Beck Martens  "Murdered for Mental Illness: Examining the Connections of Identity, Law Enforcement Interactions, and Police Assisted Suicide"
Kathryn O'Brien  "The Role of Contemplative Practice in the Study of Social Justice: Practical Applications for Cultivating Compassion and Resiliency"
Savannah Purdy  "Whitewashed America: An Exploration of Identity in American College Students"
Kimberley Samuels  "Customer Treatment in Retail Settings: The Influence of Perceived Race and Class"
Georgiana Souther  "Gendered Messages in US Health Advertisements"
Brooke Strickland  "'Hillbilly' Stereotypes in Appalachian Early and Middle Childhood Literature"
Angel Wall  "Political Rhetoric and Representation: Obama's Advocacy for Women"
Brandon Whiteside  "Taking a Knee: Exploring Colin Kaepernick's Protest"
Kristiana Belsito  "An Examination of Queer Homeless Youth and the Organizations That Serve Them"

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Past Presentations

Lauren Arruza, Amanda Berry, Katie Sue Campbell, Latausha Forney, Ulana Holtz, Marla Sutherland "FACADE: An Interactive DIY-Inspired Art Installation and Workshop"
Jacob Barker, Adam Cable, Lee Doyle, and Caroline Wilson, ""Let's Do the Time Warp Again":  Que[e]rying Time Through Multimedia"
Precious Barksdale  "An Analysis of Black Women in Hip Hop Music Videos"
Amanda Berry  "Burlesque: Identity and Community"
Gaia Boyd  "Women and the Negotiation of Self-Care"
Hannah Burgwyn  "Memory Keepers and Matriarchs: An Ethnographic Look at Female Agency among Italian-Americans"
Melanie Camp  "Social Capital in Lord of the Rings Online"
Kate Cubbler, Elizabeth Doane, Allison Gaines, Arthur Gelly, and Willa Smith  "Integrating Service Learning and Undergraduate Research in Restorative Justice Work" (presented at the UNCA Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium, November 2010)
Tiffani Goss, Holly Newton, and Beth Schuurmans  "The Silenced Queer Body"
Garth Grimball  "Body Language: The Vocabulary and Communication of the Dancer's Body"
Stephen Greenslade  "Evidence of the Instability of Heterosexist Bias in Adolscent Discourse"
Julia Held  "A Cup of Companionship: An Ethnography of Starbucks"
Minori Hinds  "Serious Word Play: Notes on Words Heard on the Asheville Transit System"
Natalie Little de Gorter  "Dreadful Locks: Stigma and the Privilege of Choice"
Sharon Lloyd, Jump in the Fire: A look at Masculinity in Firefighter Identity
Jack Manning  "Place, Community, and Belonging among Immigrants in Emma, North Carolina"
Nicholas Marshall  "One Hand Washing the Other: Asheville's Pushcart Food Vendors at the Crossroads of Community"
Elliot Mauer  "The Sociology of Money"
Anna Oblinger  "Narratives of Resistance: Displacement and Emplacement in the Burton Street Community"
Melody Rood and Natalka Wiszcur  "Mail Seeking Mail:  A Portrayal of LBGT Creativity from the Tranzmission Prison Books Project"
Allison Schad  "The Bicycle Sets Me Free: Transportation Choices of Women in Amsterdam"
Janet Schafer  "Jobs Engendered: How Women Experience Gender in a Male-Dominated Job"
Leah Smith  "How Memory Affects Sense of Self: Stories of Traumatic Brain Injury"
Mollie Stauss  "Feminist Practices of Caseworkers: Creating Agency in an Alternative Sentencing Program Setting"
Charlotte Taylor  "Religiosity and College: A Study of the Possible Effects of Secondary Education on Religiosity"
Julie Williams  "Faith as Self-Ascription: Contemporary Identity as Seen Through a Small Baptist Church"
Natalka Wiszcur  "Integrating Activism and Academia through a Queer Lens"
Ridley Zook  "Women and Sexuality in the Mass Media in 1960 and 2010"