Skip to main content

Westminster College Sociology and Criminal Justice Majors Accepted into American Sociological Association Honors Program

Posted on Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Westminster College sociology/criminal justice and biology major Joseph Ritchie and criminal justice major Annalisa Ryding have been accepted into the Undergraduate Honors Program of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The ASA Honors Program provides undergraduate sociology students an intensive introduction to the professional life of the discipline.  The students will attend the ASA Annual Meeting in New York City this August and participate in several events, including presentation of their research in a Roundtable Paper Session, meetings with representatives of national graduate programs and exclusive "conversations" with prominent sociologists.

Ritchie and Ryding's acceptances into the program were based on a personal essay, resumé and submission of an excerpt of their capstone research papers.  The students were also sponsored and recommended by departmental faculty Dr. Kristin Park, professor of sociology and chair of the department, and Dr. Kristenne Robison, assistant professor of sociology.

"We are extremely proud of Annalisa and Joe.  They carried out research projects that are not only fascinating and relevant, but also theoretically informed and methodologically sophisticated," Park said.

"This award is a testament to the quality work that Annalisa and Joe produced for their senior capstone research," Robison said.

Ritchie's project is titled "Anarchy: A Study of Socialization and Retention of Motorcycle Club Members."  This investigation sought to identify the models of socialization that motorcycle clubs utilize not only to recruit, but also to maintain members within their organization. The goal of this study was to illuminate an elusive and enigmatic component of American society to aid in the development of a process model of socialization that may enable both sociologists and criminologists to further understand these groups.  

Ritchie is a son of Carmen and Elizabeth Ritchie of New Castle and a graduate of Kennedy Catholic High School.

Ryding's paper is titled "‘It's Just Not Something People Want to Hear:' The Socialization Process of Becoming an Atheist."  Although the population of people who identify as secular, agnostic, or atheist has doubled in the past few decades, they are still one of the most highly stigmatized groups in today's society. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with self-proclaimed atheists to investigate their journey from theism to a non-religious identity.

Ryding is a daughter of William and Merriam Ryding and a graduate of Kane Area High School.

Contact Park at (724) 946-7251 ( or Robison at (724) 946-6033 ( for additional information. 

Joseph Ritchie
Annalisa Ryding