Sociology Awards

Each spring we hold an award ceremony to acknowledge the special accomplishments of our students and alumni. This event is a tribute to the success and hard work of NIU sociology students.

The David P. Street Memorial Fund Award

The award provides modest financial assistance towards education expenses of an undergraduate major in sociology who has obtained junior standing with a current GPA of at least 3.0 and completed at least 12 credits in sociology. Depending on the funding, this can go to more than one undergraduate student.

  • 2023: Jamaiya Dean; Lily Johnson
  • 2022: Rubi Chavez
  • 2021: Cyla Dunican
  • 2020: Rayna Ryan
  • 2019: Alexa Rogalla

The Waldo W. Burchard Award for Graduate Scholarship

This is awarded to the graduate student with the highest grade point average who has also met the following criteria: a GPA of 3.5 (or higher) based on completion of at least 24 hours of credit at the end of the fall semester. The student must also have completed a master’s degree in the Department of Sociology in the fall or be expected to receive the degree at the end of the spring or summer semester.

  • 2023: Alexis Herod; Luke Schissel
  • 2022: Madison Long
  • 2021: Emily Wagner; Adam Reedy
  • 2020: Carly Besler
  • 2019: Julia Metz

The Frances Rowe Katz Award for Thesis Research

This award can go to multiple recipients and provides some modest funds to support academic scholarship, research and/or writing of a master’s thesis. Funds for research expenses are generally given much greater priority than funds for summer salary.

  • 2023: Kass Gonzalez; Lena Mutchler; Ruby Rivera
  • 2022: Alexa Rogalla; Carly Stumphy
  • 2021: Marilyn Valadez; Kara Chase
  • 2020: Adam Reedy
  • 2019: Arissa Harrison; Anthony Cusumano; Carly Besler

The Massey Award for Social Justice

This is awarded to a graduate student or undergraduate senior in good standing who has majored or minored in sociology and who is actively involved in social justice and community activism. Eligible students must have actively participated in organizations, institutions or communities in order to enhance the climate of social justice and equality on campus or beyond.

  • 2023: Kass Gonzalez
  • 2022: Emma McMahon
  • 2021: Brittany Brown
  • 2020: Not awarded
  • 2019: Laura Kruczinski; Teanna Brisco

Deans’ Award

In 1970-71, the College office established an annual Deans' Award to give recognition to seniors who made outstanding contributions to their major departments. The criteria established for these awards are: (1) successful completion of at least 90 semester hours, (2) attainment of at least a 3.0 grade point average, and (3) nomination by departmental faculty based on service to the department or college.

  • 2023: Stormy Kara
  • 2022: Dwayne Matthiesen
  • 2021: Emma McMahon
  • 2020: Alexa Rogalla
  • 2019: Cassandra Pilcher 

Alumni Awards

Our alumni make important contributions to their fields, improve their communities and much more. The exceptional graduates selected to receive these awards not only reflect positively on NIU, but also serve as inspiration for current students.

In 2018, we established two awards to recognize the achievements of sociology alumni.

The Esteemed Alumni Award has been presented to the following graduates, who have made significant contributions to the community and/or academia:

  • 2023: Colleen Ross
  • 2022: Kamesha Spates
  • 2021: Joyce Ester
  • 2020: Not awarded
  • 2019: William Feithen
  • 2019: Rheon Gibson

The following recent graduates have received the Emerging Alumni Award for displaying potential to have a major impact on the community and/or academia:

  • 2023: Cory Barnes
  • 2022: Maria Colompos-Tohtsonie
  • 2021: Ulysses Diaz
  • 2020: Not awarded
  • 2019: Heather Klain
  • 2018: Nelisha Gray

College Alumni Awards

As alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Science, sociology graduates are also eligible to receive CLAS Distinguished Awards. These awards honor alumni, faculty and staff for professional success, civic or charitable service, or other contributions to the college.

Many sociology alumni have been selected for these awards over the years:

  • 2019: Joyce C. Ester
  • 2018: Kristie Crane
  • 2017: Howard McCullum
  • 2016: Andrew L. Traver
  • 2009: David S. Holmes
  • 2009: Richard Terance Hart
  • 2009: Jennifer (Stanley) Suprenant

Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year, the NIU Alumni Association presents its prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award to an NIU graduate for outstanding success or recognition in their field. In 2018, the Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Andrew Traver, who received his bachelor's degree in sociology in 1985.

After college, Traver joined the U.S. Navy and graduated third in his class from officer candidate school. For 26 years, he worked as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He has served as director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) since 2014.

Andrew Traver