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Analissa Iversen

Analissa Iversen, Sociology

“I like that the research I’m doing is making a contribution to society.”
When she transferred from Eastern University to UMass Lowell, Analissa Iversen knew right away that it was a better place for her. Even better, she discovered the Sociology Department.

“Sociology feels like home,” says Iversen. “I know all the professors and they reach out to me, encourage and care about me. I just feel very, very lucky.”

Her studies in sociology culminated in a major scholarly research project, directed by Prof. Mignon Duffy and funded by the Emerging Scholars internship program. Together, Duffy and Iversen delved into “American Idol,” ranked as the most watched television show in the country. Together, they learned specialized software to analyze the personal stories told by winners on the program. The study’s focus is on modern narratives of American individualism, using “American Idol” as an example, to see how they represent the American Dream and what relationship that may have to society’s lack of policy supports, such as paid parental leave.
“I like that the research I’ve been doing is making a contribution to society and may have an impact on policy,” Iversen says. “It also developed my own sociological imagination — like a nursing student does with clinicals — and the challenge kept me interested and engaged.”

The issues she encountered in readings and in class fueled in Iversen a passion for feminist issues. As a sophomore, she started a campus chapter of No Woman Left Behind, organizing a number of student activities, including a very moving candlelight vigil for survivors of sexual assault, that raised money for Rape Crisis Services of Greater Lowell.

At commencement ceremonies, Iversen was recognized with a Chancellor’s Medal, an award to students who improve the quality of student life through volunteer efforts. Sitting on the dais with trustees, speakers and academic leaders, she was a long way from the shy and uninvolved student of before.

This summer, through the Washington Center’s program, Iversen is attending the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where she is taking classes and doing convention fieldwork with the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Iversen plans to continue her studies with graduate school, doing “research work that matters,” she says.