Alumni Profiles

Tracy Geist

Social Worker/Adventure Facilitator

Tracy worked as a School Social Worker at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit. She completed a Masters Degree in Community Counseling at Towson University and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work Education at Widener University.

She works at the Top Hill Academy, a school that educates students who are not able to be educated in their home districts because of behavioral or emotional problems. She collaborated with Susquahanna Service Dogs to start a therapy dog program at the school. The dogs greet the students every morning and stay with them during the day.

Attending Messiah College was one of the best decisions in my life. The faculty taught me the skills and professionalism I would need to accomplish these educational and vocational achievements. The spiritual guidance I received still impacts me profoundly. My Messiah degree in Sociology was an excellent foundation. Sociology taught me to examine life through both a macro and micro lens which is crucial in truly helping others.


Nathan Wright

Assistant Professor of Sociology: Bryn Mawr

1996 graduate, summa cum laude 

Nathan went on to receive his Ph.D. in Sociology, in 2006, from Northwestern University. His research interests include culture, religion, public opinion, theory and research methods.

His peer-reviewed journal publications include:

“Reading and the Reading Class in the Twenty-first Century.”  Wendy Griswold, Terry McDonnell, and Nathan Wright.  Annual Review of Sociology, 31:  127-141.  2005.

“Wired and Well Read.”  Wendy Griswold and Nathan Wright.  Chapter 13 in Society Online:  The Internet in Context.  Edited by Philip N. Howard and Steve Jones.  Sage Publications.  2003.

“Religion and Political Behavior.” Jeff Manza and Nathan Wright.  Chapter 21 in Handbook of the Sociology of Religion.  Edited by Michelle Dillon.  Cambridge University Press.  2003.


Patrick Cicero

Co-Director at Pennsylvania Utility Law Project

1999 graduate.

Patrick Cicero received his J.D. from Temple University, in 2002. He worked as a law clerk to Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo, a federal judge in Harrisburg.

Between 2005 and 2009, he worked as a legal aid lawyer for MidPenn Legal Services, a non-profit law office which serves low income individuals and families, the disabled, elderly, children, and survivors of domestic violence. He focused on consumer and housing cases, helping defend clients against predatory lending and debt collection practices. Currently, Patrick is co-director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, helping low-income Pennsylvanians, by promoting policies, advocacy, and assisting local legal aid programs, non-profits, and community-based organizations.

At Messiah he was particularly interested in theory and the helping professions. He spent a semester in both Ecuador and Philly. In Ecuador, his host father was a lawyer who did civil rights work. In Philadelphia, he met a few legal aid attorneys who showed him that low income people can move mountains with a good lawyer.

My sociology degree has been foundational in each of the jobs I have held.  It was the beginning of my training to think critically.  From providing an understanding of the structural problems plaguing the poor to comprehending that law is a system unto itself, the theories of Durkheim, Marx, Weber, and Berger have stayed with me. I am forever grateful that I chose to be a sociology major at Messiah College.


Rebecca Knight Davis

Owner Becca Davis Photography

2002 graduate.

Becca Knight Davis received a MA in Non-profit Management from Eastern University, in 2008.  She worked as Director of Home Repair Ministries with the Appalachia Service Project. She works with church and student groups to repair houses in Appalachia for persons who otherwise could not keep up repair and maintenance on their homes.

She currently owns her own photography business, where she also teaches workshops and provides product recommendations. 


Alan and Beth Classen-Thrush

2003 graduates.

Beth received a MA in Special Education from Marymont. Alan received a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Beth worked in special education in inner city Los Angeles.  Both were involved in many extra curricular activities at Messiah groups concerned with peace and justice and the Middle East. Beth received the alumni award for the outstanding graduate in 2003.

They currently serve in Nicaragua with the Mennonite Central Committee. Alan serves as an Instructor of Peace Theology & Conflict Transformation at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Managua, while Beth serves as Connecting Peoples Coordinator, coordinating intercultural service and learning opportunities for students.


Melody Boyd

Assistant Professor of Sociology: SUNY Brockport

2004 graduate 

In 2010, Melody completed her Ph.D. degree from Temple University, where she later worked as an adjunct. She also worked as a Post-doctoral researcher at University of Pennsylvania.  Her research focused on urban poverty, with an emphasis on race and ethnicity, and on housing mobility. She worked on the Moving to Opportunity Study, which researched policy, public health, and neighborhood poverty. 

While at Messiah she served as a teaching assistant. She views studying and teaching Sociology as a way to carry out the call in Micah 6:8 to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

My experience in Messiah's Sociology department was great preparation for graduate school. Not only did I feel prepared academically, but several of my professors served as mentors in helping me think about graduate school and assisting me with the application and decision process. My time at Messiah allowed me to cultivate a very grounded sense of who I am and what my goals for my vocation are.  Who I am is somehow connected to every Messiah classroom discussion about sociology and faith, every chapel service about social justice and Christianity, every late night talk with roommates about living out our faith.


Sarah Van Cott

Wycliffe Bible Translator

2007 graduate 

Sarah used her study of Sociology and Anthropology to prepare for service in Wycliffe Bible Translators.  She spent the last several years in intensive study learning the nuances of culture and how to translate the Bible so that it "lives" for people who otherwise would not have the Bible in their own language.


Jessica Lee Yutzy

Veterans Service Representative

2008 graduate

Jessica worked as a Child Welfare Caseworker before accepting a job as a Veterans Service Representative for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2010, she began study toward a MA in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University.

My sociology classes taught me how to examine situations from various perspectives, think analytically, understand government better through sociological theory and learn different concepts on my own.  As a sociology student I learned to write clearly, problem solve, and utilize various computer applications -- all skills that have proven invaluable to my work.


Hannah Edmunds

Mennonite Voluntary Service

2008 graduate

Hannah served in Mennonite Voluntary Service, in Seattle, Wa., after graduation.

I had a great experience with the Sociology Department at Messiah, and I really miss the stimulation of classes and interactions with fellow students and professors.


Jessica Villanueva

Deputy US Marshal trainee

2009 graduate 

What really made my learning experience at Messiah College remarkable were the professors. Not only were they always willing to offer advice or assistance even outside the classroom, but they all incorporated prior (or current) field experience into their lectures and often times their associates were brought in as guest speakers. Since a degree in criminal justice provides a broad range of career options, it was helpful to hear firsthand from people working in various aspects within the justice system. Furthermore, I was able to complete my field experience in London, England, working with a Metropolitan Police Superintendent as well as interning with a non-profit organization striving to prevent youth violence. I graduated in December 2009 and am currently in the process of becoming a Deputy U.S. Marshal.


Josiah Rider

Administrative Assistant: Delhaize America

2011 graduate 

After graduation in May 2011, I got married. I am currently working in an administrative position for Delhaize America, while preparing and saving for law school next fall (2012). My plan is to stay on the East coast, and maybe even come back to Pennsylvania for law school. Then my goal is to move to a mid-size town/city and begin practicing law either for the Public Defender or the District Attorney.