Areas of Expertise

Children and youth; social class; volunteer work and civic engagement; qualitative methods


Dr. Nenga conducts research in the sociology of children and youth, the lived experience of social class, and social aspects of education. She is currently working on a paper with Kathryn Gold Hadley of Hanover College about positive youth development programs for Southeast Asian youth. In addition, Dr. Nenga is studying a college readiness program for first-generation, primarily Latina/o high school students with Mayra Garcia (’11), Whitney Rodriguez Rominger (’11), Susi Contreras (’14) and Isaac Bernal (’13). She also worked with students Lauren Cox (’08) and Tristine Baccam (’09) on an ethnographic investigation of a middle school summer camp.


PhD, Indiana University 2004
MA, San Francisco State University 1997
BA, Simon’s Rock College 1992

Previous Courses

Social Problems, Research Methods & Lab, Deviance/Conformity/Identity, Childhood and Youth, Social Class in the US, Latin@s & Education, Senior Research Seminar


Hurst, Allison L. and Sandi Kawecka Nenga, eds. 2016. Working in Class: Recognizing How Social Class Shapes Our Academic Work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka, Guillermo A. Alvarado (’15) and Claire S. Blyth (’16). 2015. “‘I Kind of Found My People’: Latino/a College Students’ Search for Social Integration on Campus.” Pp. 29-45 in College Students’ Experiences of Power and Marginality: Sharing Spaces and Negotiating Differences, edited by E.M. Lee and C. LaDousa. New York: Routledge.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka and Jessica K. Taft, eds. 2013. Sociological Studies of Children and Youth: Youth Engagement: The Civic-Political Lives of Children and Youth, Vol. 16. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka. 2012. “Not The Community, But A Community: Transforming Youth Into Citizens Through Volunteer Work.” Journal of Youth Studies 15(8): 1063-1077.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka and Lauren A. Apgar. 2011. “The Age of Love: Dating and the Developmental Discourse in a Middle School Summer Camp.” Pp. 109-131 in Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, vol. 14, edited by L.E. Bass and D.A. Kinney. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka. 2011. “Volunteering to Give Up Privilege? How Affluent Youth Volunteers Respond to Class Privilege.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 40(3):263-289.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka and Tristine P. Baccam. 2010. “Stealing Peanuts and Coercing Energy Drinks: The Underground Economy of a Middle School Summer Camp.” Qualitative Sociology Review 6(2):105-125.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka. 2010. “The Value of Volunteering: Comparing Youths’ Experiences to Popular Claims.” Pp. 295-318 in Sociological Studies of Children and Youth: Children and Youth Speak for Themselves, vol. 13, edited by H.B. Johnson. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Hadley, Kathryn Gold and Sandi Kawecka Nenga. 2004. “From Snow White to Digimon: Using Popular Media to Confront Confucian Values in Taiwanese Peer Cultures.” Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research 11(4): 515-536.

Nenga, Sandi Kawecka. 2003. “Social Class and Structures of Feeling in Women’s Childhood Memories of Clothing, Food and Leisure.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 32(2): 167-199.

Eder, Donna and Sandi Kawecka Nenga. 2003. “Socialization in Adolescence.” Pp. 157-182 in J. DeLamater, (Ed.), Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Kluwer-Plenum.

Honors and Awards

2011 Teaching Award (for untenured faculty)

2007 Excellence in Academic Advising Award