People sitting around a desk
Benny Cooper (’08) led ten students on a alternative spring break service trip to Stephens, Ark. to volunteer in the local high school.

Preparing students for life after high school

For the last five or six years in alternating odd years, Professors of Sociology Earl Smith and Angela Hattery have taught “Social Stratification in the Deep South.” The class includes taking around 20 students for a 14-day academic journey through the deep south to look at issues of social stratification. After the 2007 iteration of that class, which Hattery says was by far the most successful, the Lilly Foundation approached the professors about doing a follow up to the course — a more service oriented experience.

Benny Cooper
Benny Cooper (’08)

“We thought very seriously about how the connections might be made between a course that’s oriented primarily around academics taught on the road with some service component and how that might connect to an experience that’s virtually entirely about service with very little academic component,” said Hattery. “When we thought about how to link these two we felt it was very important to have at least one student who had taken the social stratification class lead and design the service.

That student would be Benny Cooper (’08), who at the time was a senior sociology major. “When I received the e-mail from professors Hattery and Smith I thought ‘how am I going to work this in?’” But I took the challenge because I’m very interested in issues of educational equity My co-leader Trayonna Floyd and I worked together to develop the materials we would take into the school and to arrange other details of the trip.”

At Stephens High School, the ten participants spent the week interacting with the young people from this rural town. They listened to their stories, taught classes, spoke about the importance of education to a group of student in suspension and helped those who hoped to go to college complete their applications, explore financial aid options, and arrange to take the required standardized tests.

Web content by Kim McGrath
Photos by Ken Bennett

Students on the service trip to Stephens High School in Stephens, Ark., blogged about their experience.
Read the blog.

Profiles of graduates who traveled to Stephens, Ark.
Meet Benny Cooper (’08)

Meet Keon McGuire (’08)

Susan Smith, head of IT at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, traveled with students through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee, as an embedded librarian. She helped create the 2007 Social Stratification in the Deep South trip Web site.

Professor Angela Hattery studies African-American families and teaches the Social Stratification in the Deep South course.

Meet Professor Earl Smith an expert in the sociology of sport who teaches courses in family, social stratification, and American ethnic studies.

Visit the Department of Sociology.

AUDIO: Cooper and Hattery talk about how student/faculty relationships at Wake Forest make for a unique service-learning experience:

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