Even though Antonio Ball (’21 sociology, women’s and gender studies) hails from the urban mecca of Chicago, he feels right at home in the smaller confines of Ames and Iowa State University. He knew furthering his education at Iowa State was the right decision from the start.
“I chose Iowa State because I thought that it would be an environment I could truly thrive in,” Ball said. “Being surrounded by individuals with so much passion and talent allows me to continue to grow and prosper and become a better version of myself.”
Ball wants to uncover what makes people tick, so majoring in sociology was a natural fit.
“I have always been fascinated by people’s interactions with each other, and sociology was the perfect field to explore that,” he said.
Ball is also passionate about social justice and assisting individuals from marginalized communities in establishing a firm foundation in this world, which was the impetus for him adding a second major in women’s and gender studies (WGS).
“With a WGS major, I am able to gain new insights on various topics and issues to assist individuals who, like myself, come from marginalized communities,” Ball said.
Research has become a newfound passion as well, thanks in part to his McNair Scholarship. The McNair program offers undergraduate students opportunities to conduct, write and present research at local and national research conferences. Scholars also participate in a yearlong graduate school prep course designed to help them plan, select, apply, transition and excel in graduate school.
Ball is wasting no time practicing his novel research skills. He currently is a research assistant for David Schweingruber, associate professor of sociology. Under Schweingruber’s mentorship, Ball is examining asexual individuals’ perceptions of community and identity, and discussing their perceived and real sense of social alienation in both contemporary society and the LGBTQ+ community.
Ball presented his research findings at the Couch-Stone Symposium, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction in Des Moines last May. He also spoke at The Transforming Gender and Society’s Women’s Studies Conference, held at Iowa State last spring, on the topic of how rape and human trafficking have been historically used during times of war, and how they contribute to various systems of oppression.
“What I have enjoyed most from my research is the ability to help marginalized communities, to give them a platform and provide them with visibility,” Ball said. “I have also enjoyed meeting individuals who exude the same passion I do, not only learning about the content but also providing various strategies to help these individuals, making the world a better place for everyone.”
With future plans to become a sociology professor, Ball intends to positively impact society for years to come.
“I want to provide a space where students can grow and prosper in their journeys, just as I have in mine — utilizing these resources and creating the next generation of scholars and educators who will have an impact on the world.”