Thanksgiving offers an annual opportunity to stop, take stock of one’s life, and to simply be grateful.  As a sociologist, I can appreciate the many continuums in the social world, and it is a useful exercise to think about where my one wild and precious life fits into the grander scheme.  I’m grateful for parents who loved me (and love me still) and supported me through every aspect of my life.  As someone who studies and teaches about delinquency, I truly understand the importance of parents and families in shaping our understanding of the world, in building and nurturing our emotional bonds, and in guiding us into adulthood.  I was more than fortunate to have kind, caring, compassionate, and hard-working parents.  I was and am lucky to have older sisters who watched out for me when I was younger and are now my beautiful friends as well as my family.  School was another place that largely worked in my favor: I grew up with peers who took school seriously and helped me stay out of trouble, and I had teachers who took notice of my particular skill set and ambitions and encouraged me.

I am fortunate today to have a career that I love and that I believe matters.  I have great colleagues and friends that I get to share ideas with and engage in thought-provoking and fun discussions.  My students – both inside and outside – inspire me on a daily basis.  They make me strive to work harder and do better.  The resilience of the men that I know in our state prisons and their passion for doing good in the world – despite their confinement and limited resources – reminds me of the luxuries in my own life and the many, many opportunities that I have to make a positive difference in my own communities.  I’m grateful to know them and to be able to consider them my teachers as well as my students.

I’m still learning and growing, but I’m grateful for these many blessings and happy to be another year into this journey.