West Texas A&M University

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Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work Success Stories

Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work

Success Stories

Holly Bellah, Melody Loya, Kimberly Phillips, and Elsa Diego-Medrano are collaborating on a research project that examines student learning outcomes from faculy-led study abroad experiences.

Holly Bellah is developing and testing the effectivenes of using MP3 recordings of audio English lessons to aid Karen refugees. This project is being funded by a Kilgore Research Grant.

A book written by West Texas A&M University instructor Claudia Stuart has been selected for the Humanities Texas Summer Readership program. The book is entitled Poetry, Prose and Penguins.

Cara Speer, LCSW has been appointed as Vice President of the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers for 2013-2015.

Jed Falkowski is a recent graduate from the Master of Arts Psychology Program. He is now a PhD student in Clinical Psychology. Read his Student Profile at UT Southwestern.

Sociology Online. Two recent graduates completed their entire sociology degree online. As a result of their new degrees one student has a new job in Florida. The second student moved from a local police department to the federal Border Patrol.

Books Published. Dr. Jenifer Kunz, professor of sociology, had the second edition of her book published in 2013, THINK Marriages and Families, 2/E, Pearson. ISBN: 9780205182619. This book brings forward the latest research in Marriages and Families. It stresses cross-cultural perspectives, diversity, theory, global comparisons, making connections to everyday life, as well as the most current statistics.


Dr. Jenifer Kunz, professor of sociology, and Claudia Stuart, instructor of sociology and criminal justice, published the third edition of their book in 2012, Sociology: Beyond the Millennium, 3/E, Kendall-Hunt. ISBN: 9781465205445.

 Grant Award. West Texas Family and Community Services (WTFCS), a project of the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work, received a $288,545 grant from the Permian Basin Area Foundation’s Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD) Funds. The TRIAD funds serve the needs of American military personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families. WTFCS will serve as the lead agency in the West Texas TRIAD Consortium and will assess eligible clients and connect them with participating area agencies to meet their specific needs. The Amarillo-based agencies working with WTFCS in the TRIAD Consortium include United Way, Family Support Services, ACADA, The Hope and Healing Place and Goodwill Industries of Amarillo.

Council Appointment. Dr. Timothy Atchison, associate professor of psychology, serves as a member of the Traumatic Brain Injury Council. The Council is an advisory group set up by the Texas Legislature to review policy and provide recommendations to the governor, legislature and other government entities to improve the care of those with traumatic brain injury and to reduce injuries. Atchison is serving a two-year term.

Extended Partnership. Training family members to improve functional recovery of loved ones who suffer traumatic brain injuries is the focus of research being conducted by faculty and students in the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work. Functional recovery looks at how well a patient resumes normal activities such as talking with friends, cleaning the house and working. Dr. Tim Atchison, associate professor of psychology, and his students collaborate in the region’s portion of a $4 million grant from the National Institute on Disabilities, Rehabilitation and Research.

We’re Here to Help. Students from each program in the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work participate in projects and activities at the West Texas Family and Community Services offices on 10th Street in Amarillo. The students provide case management and counseling services to the homeless and underserved populations in Amarillo.

Capital Murder Research. Dr. J. Keith Price, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, and Dr. Robert E. Beckley, professor of sociology, recently completed their research of Texas capital murderers.  The information was retrieved through a research agreement with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The study examined criminal acts of violence of capital murder offenders over a thirteen year span of incarceration.  The research findings are published in Volume 3, Issue 1, 2009, of The Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Education and Research.