Tag: sociology

Sociology instructor connects material with the lives of students

by Autumn Bippert

When Sherley Bedore decided she wanted to be a doctor, she set the goal of achieving that dream before the age of 32.

While her path changed from her original goal, she still accomplished becoming a doctor before the age of 32.

Dr. Bedore grew up in El Paso and moved to Lubbock as a teenager because her father was in the military. She attended Estacado High School in Lubbock and graduated two years early.

After graduating, she attended Texas Tech University.

“I got a scholarship for finishing early, but also got a scholarship for being top 10 percent of my class,” said Dr. Bedore, an instructor in Sociology at South Plains College. “And so it just seemed to make sense to just go to a public school that’s near me.”

Dr. Bedore received a multidisciplinary studies bachelor’s degree in mathematics and science in 2011.

“So I had set this goal when I was a teenager to be a (medical) doctor by 32,”Dr. Bedore explained. “When I was an undergrad, I was a first-generation college student. I didn’t know what that entailed, being a college student. I didn’t know how to study for college. I found it to be like just a whole new world of trying to get used to people and having the guts to even talk to my professor.”

Dr. Bedore explained that she almost failed school because of not knowing how to communicate with her professors.

“Actually, I almost dropped out because of that,” Dr. Bedore added. “Because I didn’t feel comfortable being where I was, and I didn’t feel a connection to my college.”

She said that she met a professor who had told her she should go to graduate school. She explained that at the time she wasn’t even sure she was going to finish her bachelor’s degree.

“And that was the first time that I thought that, in some way, I could pursue something beyond a bachelor’s,” Dr. Bedore said. “Like I really thought, ‘OK, get your bachelor’s and then just get a job and live your life. And it was the first time where I think someone else saw the potential in me to move and really develop past my own barriers.”

While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she met another professor who taught human sciences who helped guide her. She said that her professor had taught her how to research and piqued her interest in an area of study she would later explore in more depth.

“I knew that I liked people,” said Dr. Bedore, “and I knew that I liked language, identity and self. But I didn’t know how I wanted to tie them together. She saw how those all could go together, for me, as maybe a future scientist.”

Dr. Bedore said that even though she didn’t think she would be admitted into graduate school at Texas Tech, she applied anyway.

“I kind of live my life to where, I open as many doors as I can and the ones that stay open, those are the ones I walk through,” Dr. Bedore explained. “At least that’s my perspective on things, because sometimes we can be scared to even open doors and see what’s on the other side, and even just to walk through them. I decided I’ll apply and see what happens. If I don’t get in, I’ll get a job. That’ll be another door. And I got in, and I didn’t get a job, which is funny and I couldn’t believe that I, one was the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s, but also being the first person to pursue a graduate degree.”

She graduated with her master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Tech in 2014. She was given a fellowship to continue her education and earned a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies in 2018.0Q6A9247

“I was going to join the Marines and become an officer,” Dr. Bedore said. “And I applied for scholarships and for fellowships and I didn’t think I would get them, because I rarely ever got these kinds of opportunities. And I got a fellowship to pay for all of my PhD.”

While at Tech, she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant of Theories in Human Development and Family Studies and an instructor of Theories in Human Development and Family Studies courses and a Contemporary Families course.

Dr. Bedore began teaching at SPC in the Behavioral Sciences Department in January of 2019. She said she wanted to apply at SPC because of the reputation for teaching that she had at Tech.

“Apparently, at Tech I got quite a reputation for being a really involved and really good lecturer,” Dr. Bedore explained. “I credit that to the professors that I had, including the one professor that I had that one summer (who had encouraged her to apply to  graduate school) who I don’t think did anything particularly special in the way that he lectured, but the way that he connected the material to whoever was in the class.”

She said that she had a lot of good examples to go by for her teaching style.

“Being the behavioral scientist that I am,” Dr. Bedore said, “I was able to observe other people and then take the attributes that I wanted in their teaching methodology and their teaching style, and incorporated them into my teaching style, which is why I teach the way I teach.”

She explained her teaching style is catered to her students and nurturing their learning experience. She said that she doesn’t want her students to be stressed about learning the material and is as transparent as possible with what she expects from them.

“But I also play on the strengths of the students,” Dr. Bedore added, “like whether or not they are going to be good test takers or good writers, or if you’re going to be able to accomplish all of the things that I am expecting. But I also make sure that the students know that you can always ask questions in class.”

She said that is why she does the style of teaching that she does, always talking about what students are doing in their lives.

“So if I can relate to you in some aspects, I think it’s going to be more understandable, and more relatable when you’re reading about this material and trying to learn it,” Dr. Bedore said. “It’s easier for me to give you ‘you’ as an example. So that’s why I came here, because the student-centered atmosphere here is unlike any other place I’ve ever been.”

She said that she has wonderful support from other faculty members, and even from the department, for being able to do and create what she wants in getting her students to understand the material.

“The environment here is just more supportive for me as a creative,” Dr. Bedore said, “because this is somewhat of an art, to be able to create this learning interaction in the class.”

Dr. Bedore has also done her own research and participated in other sociological research, along with teaching. She said that after getting her degrees, she was very involved in the scientific community, attending conferences and consulting on the research by others.

One of her personal research projects was “An Exploratory Study of Self-Concept: The Self as a Developmental Process Across Cultures.”

“When I was an undergrad, I had done some research with a professor, and I knew that I was interested in identity and self,” Dr. Bedore said. “More specifically, I found out that I was more interested in self concept. I was always interested in the kind of environment that creates these ideas of who we think we are and what makes me so unique from everyone else if we have the same experiences.”

She said that her research was trying to understand if despite one’s environment and despite one’s culture, if the self is something that everyone creates in their mind. Bedore wanted to study who we are based on all these values, thoughts, and perceptions that we all have. As well as to see if there are common themes that go into the creation of who you are in your mind.

She also did research on kids in middle school who were at high risk for not graduating from high school, to see if inverations of mindful meditation and yoga could improve their behavior.

Dr. Bedore said she wanted to continue to look at ideas of self and what happens when those ideas go bad. She studied 20 students from a middle school in Lubbock and gave them a questionnaire before and after to track the change.

“They did six sessions over the course of a month and a half,” explained Dr. Bedore. “It was once a week. So already you think we’re not going to change anything in these kids because they’re (the sessions) too far apart from each other. On top of that, they’re only 35 minutes long. What are you going to change in someone in 35 minutes?”

She said despite everything that she was open to the challenge. She analyzed data on the questionnaires she gave the students to see if their symptoms of depression, anxiety, satisfaction with life and other factors had changed.

“If you want to see if you truly change that person, then I need to be able to capture what you are and how you are beforehand, give you this intervention and then capture it again.,” Dr. Bedore explained. “And if those two moments in time of self are the same, then whatever I did to you didn’t do anything. If they are different, then whatever I did in your environment changed you in some way.”

She said that after she looked at those two moments in time, she saw a significant change for the better.

“When you have developed this idea of self to be deviant, it takes a long time to get that,” Dr. Bedore said. “But what I was able to show was that it doesn’t take very long for someone to learn how to change, and how to change these ideas of who they are and to feel better about themselves.”

Dr. Bedore has also conducted several other studies, including: “Emotional Wellbeing in

Foster Youth: An Exploratory Study,” “Human Capital Development among Immigrant Youth,” and “ An Exploratory Study of the Impacts on the Self-Concept During Major Life Transitions, Police Practice and Research.”

Dr. Bedore has worked in many different fields, such as criminology, human development, cognitive science, PSTD, autism intelligence and risky behaviors in sex and adolescents. She has also published research in Spanish as well.

Professor applies unique method of helping students toward independence

It’s hard to miss an instructor wearing a kilt on the first day of class.

Brant Farrar, associate professor of Sociology at South Plains College, attended Wellman High School, before coming to Levelland to attend SPC. He later dropped out, but “came back with a vengeance,” according to Farrar.

After his time at SPC, he graduated grudgingly and went went on to attend Angelo State University, where he attained the opportunity to study abroad. He found his heritage in Scotland, along with a kilt, clan, and a part of himself.

Farrar, pronounced “Fair-Ra”, is proud of his many traveling experiences in and out of the country with his wife and son. However, that is not the only thing that defines him. Many interests and hobbies he enjoys include reading graphic novels, spending time with family, and tattoos.IMG_8645

Farrar takes pride in his ability to be himself and be proud of who he is, along with keeping an open mind to others and himself. His tattoos are his way of treating himself, but also something to tell his story and visualize his identity as much as his experiences. In the classroom, Farrar wants to help students just as his instructors helped him during his time at SPC.

For many years, Farrar was undecided about a career, even thinking he wanted to be a social worker at one point. But he soon found out that wasn’t his calling either. He realized he couldn’t handle the tragedy and heartache that came with the job.

“Dealing with the abuse in such a real way was too much for me,” he explained.

Farrar says, “When students die, I take that to heart. . . . How I deal with tragedy, I lean on my friends and my co-workers, and I talk to them about these things, . . . That family kicks in here at South Plains College.”

Along the way, Farrar dabbled in many things, including photography and art. But his love for teaching won out during his time spent as a teaching assistant in math at Texas Tech University. Some time later, he took a Calculus II class, which he dropped, and picked up a sociology class.

Farrar says that he takes pride in his curiosity, because it’s who he is. He asks the hard, uncomfortable, and “dirty” questions. His curiosity is what makes all his classes interesting, because not only does he want to question, but he also wants to be questioned. He encourages curiosity in class and makes the classroom uncomfortable.

“Comfortable is not good,” Farrar said. “Comfortable is just that it’s easy. Comfortable doesn’t move you forward. Comfortable doesn’t cause you growth.”

By making the classroom uncomfortable, it also allows the students to be free to be themselves, according to Farrar. This teaching method allows students to be independent individuals with their own stories, past, and future.

“I’m trying to teach you to make your own choices, because I can’t make them for you,” Farrar says.

While teaching, Farrar still makes time for his passions, including his part in SpeCtra, also known as the LGBTQIA+ community. Being a part of this group is life-changing, he says.

“A lot of people come from really small schools and have never ever experienced affirmation,” explained Farrar. “They have never had anybody say, ‘You’re OK, you’re good, we want you to be a part of this.”

This group is a very important part of Farrar’s life and takes up a lot of time. However, it gives him a chance to work with students, and, as Farrar puts it, “Help them do their thing.”

IMG_8675Because of his past and the way he has been defined by how he looks or has seen others be defined by how they look, Farrar understands and is relatable to his students.

Farrar uses a poem, “Famous,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, to express what he wants in life, which is to stay exactly where he is now.

“I have no desire to work anywhere else, to work any other position,” Farrar says. “I don’t want to do anything else other than this. Essentially, this is my philosophy, . . . I believe I am doing what I am supposed to do. I want to stay here until I die or retire, and hopefully I retire.”

Most people have that one thing that gets them out of bed.

“I have the ability to change lives every day,” explains Farrar. “Something I say could have meaning and change their life, or it could save their life.”

“I am a Christian, and doing love, loving people, is what being Christian is, and if I missed that opportunity to be able to help somebody have a better life, then I have done a disservice to myself and to those individuals,” he added.