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Student Spotlight November 2010

“Tom is a star in our program. He's presented several papers at conferences, is an outstanding teacher, serves as managing editor of the journal sponsored by Anthropologists and Sociologists of Kentucky (ASK), and is just an all-round nice guy. We feel privileged to have him in our program.”- Dr. Patricia Gagne, Department of Sociology


Thomas MowenNovember’s student spotlight—Mr. Thomas Mowen—is a Master’s student in Sociology. Thomas started his undergraduate studies at Montana State University but after a year of classes and still not knowing what he wanted to do when he "grew up,” he became a semi-truck driver.  After a year of driving trucks, Thomas transferred to the University of Louisville to completed his undergraduate degree in sociology. He then decided to continue in the graduate program at U of L for his M.A. and plans to pursue a doctorate degree.

Thomas’ major area of interest is criminology because he has found there to be so many different facets one can study in this broad area.  Thomas says, “When I tell people I'm a budding criminologist, they tend to think of CSI or serial-killer profiling, but it couldn't be farther from the truth.  I’ve conducted research on victims’ family members’ experiences within the capital punishment system and have another ongoing project investigating the stigma and secondary deviance.  My thesis deals with parenting style and the effect on juvenile delinquency.  Each area is a bit different, but they are really intriguing, and none of them have anything to do with serial-killers.”

Thomas would really like to see a more concentrated effort toward change and believes there is a lot more the discipline of sociology can do to create that change. Thomas states, “Many Americans are unaware, for instance, of the great class and racial disparities within the justice system. Many Americans still think race is a biological category, gun ownership protects people, and illegal immigrants take our jobs….And people wonder why inequalities continue to exist in the United States.  This has to change, and sociology can provide the avenue for those changes.”

Thomas asserts that the best way he can contribute to this shift is through empirical research which aims at uncovering inequalities in society.  He feels that changing the status-quo is a long-term goal that can be accomplished through this advanced degree, and through the completion of a Ph.D.  He intends to make it his individual goal to promote societal-level change and to prove that one person can actually make a difference, even if only in the life of one person.  That is still a marked accomplishment.

Thomas’ accomplishments include his forthcoming publication with the Western Criminology Review, entitled " Not in My Name: An Investigation of Victims' Family Clemency Movements and Court Appointed Closure," which is coauthored with his advisor, Ryan Schroeder.  Other accomplishments include the award for First Place for Excellence in Undergraduate Research at the 2010 Southeastern Undergraduate Sociology Symposium at Emory for the above publication, his induction into the University of Louisville Woodcock Society, and his being awarded with the  2010 James E. DeBurger Award for Outstanding Research in Sociology.


 Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted:
I’ve always wanted to be able to dance.  I have absolutely no rhythm whatsoever.
Favorite book: All-time favorite: Ian Fleming, Casino Royale.
Favorite quote: “Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.” —Kurt Vonnegut
Role Model: Although not a real person, the character of Jamal Wallace in the movie Finding Forrester is my role model.  Played by Rob Brown, Jamal is an inner-city black male who receives a basketball scholarship at a prestigious elite high school.  He works to overcome the stereotypes and barriers erected against him by his teachers, peers, and even his friends.  I wish we were all a little more like Jamal Wallace.
Pet Peeve: Poking.  I hate when people poke me.  I’m not a big fan of loud music either.
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Working for The Man, at Wal-Mart.


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