Community Engagement

Community Engagement Award

Inaugurated in 2013, the Wake Forest University Department of Sociology Community Engagement Award recognizes a graduating senior sociology major who embodies Wake Forest University’s Pro Humanitate motto and who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to community service and leadership. The recipient of this award is recognized for their outstanding community engagement work at the campus-wide May awards ceremony that takes place during Commencement weekend.  The student’s name is placed on the department plaque which is displayed prominently in the Sociology Department.

The following are some of the factors the department considers in selecting the awardee:

  • participation in campus service activities and campus life
  • community participation and leadership (domestic and international)
  • volunteer, internship, and work experience
  • participation in service learning courses and programs


Class of 2015 Co-Winners:  Kristen McCain and Katherine Ririe

McCainKristen McCain is a double major in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in French Studies.  Throughout her time at Wake Forest, she has been an active member of Volunteer Service Corps and served as a co-chair of the organization during her senior year.  Through VSC and the Pro Humanitate Institute, she has enjoyed numerous opportunities to engage with Winston-Salem and the world beyond.  Some of those opportunities include:  tutoring with El Buen Pastor, traveling to Moscow, Russia on a summer international service trip, and participating in the Wake Alternative Break Civil Rights Tour to various cities in the South.  On campus, she has been active in trying to effect meaningful change at Wake Forest by co-organizing the Spring 2014 Town Hall regarding policing issues and serving as a moderator for programs like the Deliberative Dialogues.  Her passion for diversity work has also been realized through her involvement as a student coordinator with the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Protege Mentoring Program and as a Resident Adviser to first-year students.


RirieKatherine Ririe is a Sociology major with a concentration in Crime and Criminal Justice and a minor in Religion. During her undergraduate career, Katherine dedicated her time to serving community members through work as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor and as a Domestic Violence Victim Court Advocate through Family Services, Inc. She interned for two summers at the District’s Attorney’s Office of Forsyth County and obtained a position as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem where she was able to advocate for children referred to Department of Social Services custody due to neglect or abuse by their parents/legal guardians. Katherine will attend Wake Forest University School of Law in the fall of 2015 and plans to continue her community service and victim work as a law student.


Class of 2014 Co-Winners:  Chelsea Hopson and Erin Hellman

Chelsea Hopson is a double major in Biology and Sociology with a concentration in Crime and Criminal Justice.  During her time at Wake, she received a Richter Scholarship to conduct  independent research at the School of Medicine at Imperial College based at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. There she interned at the Partnership for Child Development and conducted research  directed towards aiding Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria. On campus, she has served  as a student coordinator for the Protégé Mentor Program which helps incoming minority  freshmen transition into college life. Off campus she volunteers at Alexander Correctional  Institute where she helped to establish a pilot Literary Club with 15-20 inmates. The club provides academic support but also encourages and uplifts inmates through casual conversations and educational discussions.


 Erin Hellmann is a Sociology major with minors in Women and Gender Studies and Political Science. During her undergraduate career, Erin committed herself to giving back to the Winston-Salem community through service. She has served with Campus Kitchen, tutored through El Buen Pastor, and founded a tutoring program called “Saturday Academy” at Ashley Elementary. Erin’s service work has been complimented nicely by her sociology courses. She has been recognized on the Pro Humanitate Honor Roll for 4 consecutive semesters and was awarded the Junior Excellence in Service Award by the Office of Service and Social Action. Erin will continue to serve next year as a Teach for America Corps Member.


Class of 2013 Winner:  Nicole Little


The first annual Community Engagement Award winner is Nicole Little, a Sociology major with a Crime and Criminal Justice concentration and Women and Gender Studies minor.  Nicole’s service and leadership work is wide-ranging and commendable.  During her time at Wake Forest she has volunteered as a community mentor and tutor, organized criminal justice advocacy for the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom, and Justice, and served as a Guardian ad Litem for victims of child abuse. In January 2014, Nicole will be appointed Director of The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated educating the public about flaws in the criminal justice system and to advocating for those wrongfully incarcerated.  She intends to continue he work with the WFU Law School’s ProBono Project and with the Expunction Clinic at Legal Aid of NC, a project offering legal services to NC residents seeking an expungement or a certificate of relief.  She plans to enter law school in the future and to become a criminal justice attorney.