The Beth Hess Award was established in 2005 to support first generation college students who began their academic careers in a community college, have faced significant obstacles, are committed to teaching and mentoring other first-generation students, and exemplify Beth’s commitment to professional service and social justice work. Beth Hess was a President of SWS and one of our mentoring award winners; she also was the President of SSSP and Secretary Treasurer of ASA, and these other organizations join SWS in supporting the Beth Hess Scholar each year.
The 2019 Honorable Mention goes to Rashon Lane. Rashon started her academic career at Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, California, going on to complete a Bachelors of Arts at Tuskegee University and a Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology at the Claremont Graduate School. She is currently a doctoral candidate in medical sociology at the University of California-San Francisco. Across these institutions and experiences, Rashon has dedicated herself “to ensuring that individuals like myself, a woman of color from a low-income community, have opportunities to excel in higher education.” Toward this end, she has a broad and impressive record of teaching and peer mentoring, including the establishment of an annual Young Professionals Conference.
Rashon’s extensive and varied research experience, ranging from work on food insecurity among women of color living with HIV/AIDS on San Francisco to health promotion in response to the 2015 Ebola outbreak in Serra Leone, is bound together by a commitment to social justice and to the application of social science methods to real-world challenges. With each new experience, Rashon has applied sociological methods and theories to public health practice and focused her interests on the social constructions of health, community trauma, and disease. Her dissertation research will take her back to Sierra Leone to conduct qualitative research on the social construction of survivorship and survivor health using the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak as a case study.
Rashon hopes to sustain these commitments to teaching and mentoring and applied research by returning to community college as a faculty member after earning her PhD.