My name is Matthew Morrissey (They, Them, Theirs). I am a senior at Salem State University and will be graduating with my bachelor of science degree in sociology in May 2022. I am a first-generation college student from Fitchburg, Massachusetts. After obtaining my bachelor's from Salem State, I plan to start a master’s program in education, with a concentration in higher education student affairs administration. When I am not studying or working at the front desks of Viking Hall, I am most often found watching documentaries in my dorm room with my one-year-old cat, Cilantro. Through my education at Salem, I gained a passion for advocating for LGBTQ students' rights at the college and university levels.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
During my time at Salem State, I was involved in many organizations, including: the Resident Student Council (as the national communications coordinator), Student Government Association (as a senior senator); The Alliance (as a general representative and vice president); and Residence Life (as a desk coordinator).
My proudest achievement at Salem State would be that during my senior year. I did work with PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts), which centered around educating the administration on queer advocacy. With this [network], I advocated for queer students on campus to be able to access the campus community safely and adequately. I also worked with the Student Government Association, Residence Life, and other campus organizations to restructure some policies on campus, including the Chosen Name Policy and the Gender Inclusive Housing Policy.
Why did you select sociology as your major?
When I was changing my major in my sophomore year, I was stuck between [another discipline] or sociology. I chose sociology because it gave me the opportunity and knowledge to recognize how some institutions affect different groups of people. In the sociology program at Salem State, I was able to learn about many aspects of sociology--from sexuality to race to food and even deviance. The sociology major at Salem State gave me the unique opportunity to analyze groups at the macro and micro levels, which I would not have been able to do in another major. I also enjoyed being able to learn and hone my interests in sociology, while being able to learn about other areas in sociology.
How is sociology relevant in your day-to-day life?
Sociology is practically everywhere in my life, as it is an integral part of life. My education in sociology has made it so I am more aware of some of the factors that may influence a person to think or act a certain way. Having an education in sociology also has allowed me to be more aware of how the institutions in our government and society influence the lives of the people that live within that society. Sociology has allowed me to be able to look at the fundamental issues of society on a deeper level.
What are your long-term career plans, and how will sociology be relevant in your career?
I am attending the University at Buffalo starting next year for a master's degree in higher education (student affairs administration concentration). After obtaining my master's degree, I hope to work in some capacity at a university to help low-income LGBTQ students navigate higher education. I hope to eventually work my way up to administration in some capacity, whether that be as a dean of students or in another role. What is important to me, however, is that wherever I am, I want to have direct interactions with students. I want to be able to listen to how I can make their education experience better and more equitable.
What advice would you give to a student thinking about majoring in sociology?
I would say that if a student is thinking about majoring in sociology to reach out to faculty members in the department and to the department chair. When I was thinking about changing my major, I had a meeting with the department chairperson. In our discussion, we talked about what I was seeking through a major and she helped me understand how sociology would be beneficial to me. I would also tell someone who is thinking about majoring in sociology to look at the current course offerings for sociology students so they may be able to see how many different areas of sociology there are.
What's your favorite thing about the Salem State Sociology Department?
My favorite thing about Salem State’s sociology department is how close-knit and attentive the faculty members are to students. Throughout my four years at Salem State, I have always been able to count on having any of the sociology faculty members respond to any questions I may have about my major and other happenings at the university.