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Juniata Sociology Professor to Talk on Sabbatical to Africa and its Impact

(Posted September 7, 2010)

Cynthia Merriwether-DeVries, associate professor of sociology

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Juniata College sociologist who spent a year teaching and collaborating with educators in The Gambia, a West African nation, will talk about her experiences working and researching in that country as well as personal reflections on how the trip affected her professionally and personally at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

Cynthia Merriwether-DeVries, associate professor of sociology, will speak on "Lessons on Saving the World: Exploring Social Justice and the Ethic of Self-care." She spent the 2008-2009 academic year teaching at the University of The Gambia as a Rotary Fellow, where she collaborated with SOS Kinderdorf, founder of SOS Children's Villages, which provide homes for children who have been orphaned, abandoned or have families that are unable to care for them.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Lecture series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.


Merriwether-DeVries also taught classes at the university and helped the university fine-tune its Social Work Program. As a research project, she began to track the status of American children who have been forced to relocate to The Gambia.

Her talk will feature photography and video taken in The Gambia. She also will tell how her experience in Africa affected her professional and personal life during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Merriwether-deVries came to Juniata in 2001 after earning a doctorate in human development and family studies in 2000 from Penn State University. She earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree, both from Penn State in human development and family studies, in 1990 and 1994, respectively.

She was promoted to associate professor in 2006.

At Juniata, she has taught such courses as Introduction to Sociology, Minorities, The American Family and Social Welfare Policy and Services. Before coming to Juniata she was a lecturer in the sociology department at Penn State from 1994 to 2000.
Her doctoral research focused on how African-American adolescent mothers adjust to the role of motherhood. Her research has been published in such journals as Generations and Marriage and Family Review.

Before returning to college to complete her education, Merriwether-deVries worked as children's program coordinator at the Centre County Women's Resource Center from 1985 to 1988. From 1983 to 1985, she was assistant director of the First Steps and Kinderhouse Group Day Care Homes operated by the Child Development Council of Centre County.

Merriwether-deVries received the Penn State University Commission for Women Student Leader Award in 1997 and was awarded the Certificate of Citizen Service from the Pennsylvania Governor's Office of Citizen Service in 1991.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.