When Theresa Mejia was a junior majoring in Global Studies at Lehigh in 2013, she enrolled in "Political Economy of Globalization" taught by Kelly Austin, Assistant Professor of Sociology. The class fired her imagination. "I learned so much about globalization--going beyond the positive impacts of this phenomenon and understanding the complex inequalities that result from political-economic decisions of those in power," she says.
Impressed with Mejia's written work, Professor Austin recruited her to assist with her ongoing investigation of global inequalities pertaining to health, gender and environment. "Working with students is one of my favorite aspects of being a professor," says Austin. "When I was an undergraduate some years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a scholarly paper with one of my professors at the time. The experience was transforming and set me on a path to becoming a professor myself. It is rewarding to now provide these opportunities for my students."
Austin and Mejia have published the results of their collaboration in the latest issue of the International Journal of Comparative Sociology. Their article, co-authored with Mark Noble of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, examines data from 90 developing countries to identify how gender inequality shapes the transmission of malaria. For Mejia, a first-generation college graduate, this article might signal the launch of a scholarly career. "Having my name on a scholarly publication gives me hope that I may go on for further education--an idea I never really entertained until I met some wonderful professors here at Lehigh, especially Dr. Austin who helped me translate my interest into work I can communicate to others," she says. This fall Mejia begins Lehigh's MA program in Sociology.
Supportive mentoring relationships between professors and students are a hallmark of an outstanding college education, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is dedicated to fostering such relationships.