Matthew Sedlar

Matthew Sedlar

Matthew Sedlar

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

My thesis, "Living with Disaster: Risk, Housing Instability and Post-Disaster Displacement," examines the lives of survivors of the 2021 Caldor Fire in El Dorado County, California. I find the boundaries of a disaster extend beyond the affected area and into communities and even states beyond - in this case, exacerbating insurance and housing crises in the state.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

As someone who grew up in California, I wanted to study what is really a complex set of problems affecting the state.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

I have reporters reaching out to me about issues related to my thesis, telling me there are few people in the space talking about these issues. I would not have those opportunities if it weren't for my time at Mason.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

It's hard to top finishing my thesis, but Dr. John Dale's Public Sociology course also inspired me to start a podcast called Sociology Ruins Everything. Over the past year and a half, I have had many Mason students and professors on the podcast. I hope to continue that trend with future episodes!

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

Every class made a difference. Drs. Amy Best, John Dale, Ben Manski, James Witte, Joseph Scimecca, and Jamie Clark are fantastic professors, and I enjoyed taking their courses. Drs. Shannon Davis, Elizangela Storelli, and Blake Silver were also extremely helpful with advice throughout my time at Mason. But I credit Dr. Nancy Hanrahan for pushing me to be a better writer and researcher. I couldn't have done this without her.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

Submit papers to conferences! ASA, Southern Sociological Society, Eastern Sociological Society. Just submit. Many MA students think you can't submit papers or participate in conferences if you're not in the Ph.D. program, but you can. By attending conferences, you will learn much more about the discipline and be inspired by others' work.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I want to work in a space that continues what I started with my thesis, particularly community organizing around climate resilience. My long-term goal is to return for my Ph.D., but it'll be nice to have a little break, and my family will appreciate that.