Student Stories


Curtiss Engstrom and Ningyuan Ma, both part of the Sociology Department’s Concentration in Analysis and Research (CAR), had prestigious and valuable internships during the summer of 2018 that allowed them to apply the knowledge and skills gained from CAR courses in a research setting. Curtis was a fellow at the highly competitive University of Michigan-University of Maryland-Westat Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). Ningyuan was one of seven research interns at NORC in Chicago.

A former Welton Fellow and Honors student, Curtiss Engstrom became the first UW-Madison undergraduate to be awarded the highly competitive Summer Fellow position sponsored by the University of Michigan-University of Maryland-Westat Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). Curtiss, who has a joint major in Political Science, worked as a research assistant for Stephanie Eckman at Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) in Washington, D.C. He participated in a professional development and research seminar series with 15 other Junior Fellows from across the country. Writing of his experience, Curtiss says, “It was one of the most rewarding experiences an undergraduate could have. Not only do you get the opportunity to work with some of the top people in your field of interest, you also get to interact with fellow students who share your research interests. And do all that while being in DC during the summer. Simply put, it was a life changing experience that gave me an opportunity to see what work life would be like after graduation and meet some spectacular people.”

Ningyuan Ma won a position as a research intern at NORC in Chicago, the only undergraduate among 7 participants in NORC’s summer internship program. Ningyuan, who has a joint major in Journalism and Mass Communication, said of her experience, “Everything is as exciting as expected…. For the group project, we did twitter analytics looking at narratives around Hispanic population and immigration during the election, rescission of DACA and the State of the Union address….I got to meet people who specialize in different aspects of survey research…I am deeply inspired in terms of how I may turn the knowledge and skills I have into substantive contributions to this industry.”

Since the 1980s, CAR has been challenging motivated undergraduates to acquire the research skills and experience usually found among graduate students. CAR students take courses in statistics and research methods, practice those skills in internships, and then cap their experience off with a practicum in which they write an original research paper under the mentorship of the CAR Director, Professor Jim Raymo. In the spring semester of 2018, Curtiss and Ningyuan had taken the new undergraduate Sociology course in survey research methods and completed internships at the UW Survey Center. Both students’ summer internships further enhanced their experience in the field of survey research.   More information about CAR is available here.

Photo of a studentIn the spring of 2018, sociology and political science major Jordan Madden was awarded a Truman Scholarship. Out of 756 candidates, only 59 received the national award this year, based on finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. In his freshman year, Madden started a political advocacy organization aimed at making reproductive healthcare more accessible and affordable. Active in student government, he is one of 16 students who allocates millions of student fee dollars, helps draft the University Health Services budget, and advocates alongside state policymakers for policies and positions that help UW students. Madden has worked in research institutions, campaign offices, nonprofits, and several university committees dedicated to making campus more equitable, accessible, and affordable to all students.