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Learning sociological research skills leads Stanford senior to a career path toward exploring racial injustice

Atlanta Rydzik
Image credit: Andrew Brodhead
Feb 20 2020
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

Rarely does debating politics at the family dinner table end well.

But just such a heated discussion led Stanford sociology major Atlanta Rydzik to the Farm, a senior honors thesis and soon, graduate school.

Rydzik remembers the exchange over Thanksgiving dinner well. It was 2014, the year Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Where and how often Brown was shot was a contentious point for many, including Rydzik’s family.

“It was something that was super controversial,” Rydzik recalled. “I remember my family was like, ‘Well, this article came out and said this thing,’ and then someone else was like, ‘Well, actually another article came out and said it wasn’t true.’”

Rydzik was struck by the conflicting news narratives, and ever since has studied issues related to police violence, criminal justice and the media – both at Stanford and at Foothill College, where Rydzik earned an associate degree in sociology before transferring to the Farm. It was at Foothill College where Rydzik discovered the Social Science Research Assistant (RA) Internship Program offered by Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences.

Atlanta Rydzik's mentor Shea Streeter is a 2017 DARE Fellow and a 2013 EDGE-SBE Fellow.

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