By definition, “sociology” is the study of the development, structure and functioning of human society.
This month, sociology professor Dr. Andrea Hunt will be rejoining Hillcat society when she returns to Claremore to accept the “Distinguished Hillcat Award” at Rogers State University’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Dinner.
“I’m so excited to be coming back to campus,” Dr. Hunt said. “My sister lives in Claremore, and I’ve come back over the years to see her, always noting the growth and changes to the town and to the campus every time I’ve been here, but this will be the first time I’ve been back for anything like this. It’s quite an honor.”
Hunt’s story began in Coffeyville, Kansas, where she graduated from Field Kindley High School in 1996. A first-generation college student, she earned her Associate of Arts from Coffeyville Community College then came to Claremore, where she enrolled in RSU.
“At that time, Rogers State University had recently transitioned into a four-year university, and things aligned perfectly for me because one of the first options available was a social/behavioral sciences degree,” she said. “RSU gave me options and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had at other colleges.”
It was at RSU that Hunt changed her educational pursuits from psychology to sociology.
“I took a sociology class on juvenile delinquency that provided me with a lens of understanding the world in a whole new, unique way,” she said, “Along with a cultural ecology class – both of these gave me the tools to understand people and our world in a way I hadn’t done before. I also had the opportunity, through service learning as an undergraduate research assistant, to dig into the sociology side of education a little more. That ignited my interest in sociology and it was an interest that carried throughout my further education and into my professional career.”
After her time at RSU, Hunt continued her education, earning a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and her Ph.D. in sociology with a minor in women’s and gender studies from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Currently, she is on track to graduate from the University of North Alabama in Florence with a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling.
With her special interest in sociology and higher education, Hunt has served in numerous administrative and teaching roles, most recently as an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Sociology at the University of North Alabama.
She is the recipient of numerous research grants, including serving as a research assistant in the Department of Social and Behavior Sciences while she was at RSU, as well as an education specialist for the USA Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, research and laboratory specialist in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University, and research consultant for the Center for Curriculum Redesign and Gates Foundation.
Dr. Hunt has written several peer-reviewed book chapters, as well as numerous essays, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, technical reports, manuals and policy briefs. She is frequently an invited speaker at panel discussions and forums on sociological, relational, gender and other topics.
She learned about being named the “Distinguished Hillcat Award” recipient minutes before she was slated to speak before a crowd at a conference in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
“I found out about the award when I was at a conference at the University of Arkansas,” she recalled. “I was the keynote speaker and sitting in the audience during their staff awards when I happened to check my email before they introduced me and saw that I’d been named the ‘Distinguished Hillcat.’ I was blown away, and I incorporated winning the award into my address.”
Although Hunt mentioned RSU that night, she regularly shares high praise for the university that helped shape her as a person and professional.
“My whole philosophy towards teaching stems from my experience I had at Rogers State University, so those opportunities to really pay it forward to other students is very important to me,” she said. “I had opportunities for mentorship, for professional development, not only from the faculty there but from the student support services staff and from other folks there at the university. So much of who I am today is because of those experiences, and I’m carrying that with me really in all my interactions with my own students today.”
Dr. Hunt and her fellow award recipients will be recognized April 29 at the 2023 Distinguished Awards Alumni Dinner. Other honorees include Rhett Ables and Bill Spears, who have been named winners of the Alumni Rising Star Award and the RSU Hill Legacy Award, respectively.
The award recipients were selected based on their personal achievements and service; statewide, regional, and/or national distinction; and bringing honor to themselves and Rogers State University.
Tickets for the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner may be purchased at www.rsu.edu/alumni-awards/#tickets. Individual tickets for the dinner are $50, while various sponsorship levels are also available.