November 9, 2017

SVSU student paper wins first place at Michigan Sociological Association conference

A Saginaw Valley State University student’s determination in her study resulted in high praise for her academic paper. Kellie Rankey, a creative writing major and sociology minor from Saginaw, won the 2017 Student Paper Award from the Michigan Sociological Association.

Rankey presented her paper, “A Framework for Creating Positive Change: Solution for Slum Improvement through Local Empowerment,” at the association’s annual conference in Grand Rapids Saturday, Oct. 28.

Rankey's paper aimed to examine life in the Mumbai slums in order to identify common elements from successful slum redevelopment through community engagement.

“I looked at non-governmental organizations, I looked at statistics, and a history of how the slums developed and then methods that the government has been using and why those don't work," she said.

Rankey devoted many hours of research to the project, including the review of several different case studies that further examined the problem of wealth disparity and slum population increase.

“I found a few case studies of slum improvement processes that had actually worked,” she said. “They used frameworks that started from the bottom up, meaning that they involved the slum dwellers as partners in development.”

For members of the association, Rankey’s approach to addressing community improvement in Mumbai is what set her apart from other students during the conference. In focusing on the needs of the community and several examples of working solutions, Rankey's paper stood out to fellow scholars in her field.