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Hannah Mangum

PhD Student in the Department of Sociology

Hannah Mangum

I think it is really important to prioritize building relationships with peers and colleagues that will motivate you and push your work forward when you get stuck. ”

Hannah Mangum is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Her work centers around foster youth and how changes in the social networks of children, such as relationships with family and peers, influence trajectory and involvement with juvenile justice later in life. Hannah was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) granta prestigious award for outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines.  

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work? 

With my work, I aim to demonstrate the deleterious consequences of home removal and family separation for children in foster care. I believe network disruption and its impacts play a large role in the foster-care-to-prison pipeline, which is a primary focus of my work. In addition, the implications of this research extend beyond policy changes to foster care placement strategies. An estimated 1.6 to 2.8 million young people are homeless in the U.S., and a disproportionate number of these youth are LGBTQ and racial minorities. They experience similar processes of network disruption due to discrimination and ostracization by family members and friends, and their involvement in the juvenile justice system is similar to that of foster youth. Network disruption may also play an important role in the wellbeing of children with incarcerated parents or in transnational immigrant families who are living apart from parents. 

Why Northwestern? 

Northwestern Sociology is a powerhouse—but more importantly, when choosing between graduate programs, it was very important for me to be in a department that supports and actively recruits first-generation and underrepresented students. 

What inspires you? 

I am constantly inspired by my friends here at Northwestern. As a first-generation student, I feel very lucky to have come to NU Sociology in a year with an unprecedented amount of first-generation and underrepresented students—brilliant scholars whose work and community activism inspire me to do better and be better every day. 

How would your closest friends describe you? 

This one was hard for me, so I asked my PhD in Sociology cohort mate, Carrie Stallings. This is what she said:  

“Hannah is an incredibly sweet person who goes the extra mile for her loved ones. She proceeds through life with an unparalleled sensitivity and gentleness—a practice she is always working to better. I consider her to be one of my most reliable and dependable friends.”  

What did you originally want to be when you grew up? 

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Egyptologist! Before COVID-19, the Egyptology wing at the Field Museum was one of my favorite places to be. 

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path? 

Everybody is different, though I know for me personally, the most important factor in my success here at Northwestern was finding community. Graduate school can be incredibly isolating, and there is always more work to be done, but I think it is really important to prioritize building relationships with peers and colleagues that will motivate you and push your work forward when you get stuck. I certainly would not have gotten through fellowship application season last year if it were not for my cohort mates! 

Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you. 

I was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) grant—this three-year fellowship will grant me access to a network of scholars across the country, while also allowing me more time to focus on my research.   

I am currently working on a project that looks at instances of unsubstantiated reports to Child Protective Services made by school officials across the United States. I suspect that looking at instances of reports made by school officials that were found to be unsubstantiated (baseless) might help uncover which reports are occurring because of “poverty policing” rather than a legitimate suspicion of child abuse. Looking at unsubstantiated reports, where they occur, by whom, and against whom, may illuminate the role that poverty policing plays in early education institutions. 

Published: June 29, 2021 


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