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College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Fostering a Sense of Home


Number of clients served by Lantern House


Number of WSU interns employed by Lantern House each year

Growing up in Roy as part of a two-parent household, Lauren Navidomskis BS ’15, the new executive director of Ogden’s Lantern House homeless shelter, said she was “blind to what real life was like.”

While she attended WSU on a full-ride track and field scholarship, her eyes opened to the many hardships others face, and she gained a passion for social work and community agencies that help people.

She first visited Lantern House after being assigned a 20-hour volunteer service project in a Weber State course. In a child and family studies course, she visited about 10 local agencies. Through these experiences, she recalls thinking, “I could see myself working here. I can see the need.”

Thanks to a senior-year internship with the Your Community Connection (YCC) Family Crisis Center, she landed a job as a caseworker with the organization after graduating. Now, at 26, she’s a leader at a local agency.

“I know I’m young, but I am trained and equipped to handle this,” Navidomskis said about her new duties. “I love my colleagues; I love our clients. This is their home. People pass away here. They grow here. They fall off the wagon here. We are giving guidance and hope. We are a beacon of light for those in need.”

Navidomskis plans to pay forward what she gained at Weber State by interacting with the social work students professor Steven Vigil brings to the center three times a year, and expanding internship opportunities.

“Weber State does a phenomenal job of capturing our community,” Navidomskis said. “I was so proud to wear that name on my chest when I competed in high jump. I want to continue to support its activities and continue to bleed purple.”

A History Degree, A Bright Future 

When Austin Nelsen BA ’19 delivered the student speech at Weber State’s 2019 spring commencement, his son Hamilton was less than a week old. As Hamilton grows up, Nelsen plans to tell his son about WSU, and the degree that changed his world.

As part of his senior thesis, Nelsen received a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to visit Lisbon, Portugal, and its archive of a fugitive slave community established in the 1600s. 

“Every minute in the archive was simply thrilling, and with every 400-year-old letter or manuscript the archivists handed me, I felt like I was opening presents on Christmas morning,” Nelsen said.

The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences honored Nelsen as its Most Outstanding Student Researcher and author of the Best History Thesis of 2019.

Nelsen wants to continue his exploration of how power, race and class played out in Europe between the 15th and late 18th centuries. Eventually, he hopes to earn his Ph.D. and become a college professor to help others achieve their dreams.

Top Honors for New History Faculty Member 

The Society of American Historians selected the work of Weber State’s newest history faculty member for the 59th annual Allan Nevins Prize.

Jonathan Lande was honored for his dissertation, Disciplining Freedom: U.S. Army Slave Rebels and Emancipation in the Civil War. He reviewed more than 30,000 transcripts of Civil War military courts martial in the National Archives. What Lande found was that a military organization committed to the destruction of slavery unwittingly subjected black soldiers to the violent discipline and coerced labor that many formerly enslaved Americans sought to escape.

The award came with $2,000 and the guaranteed publication of his work into a book.

Lande earned his Ph.D. at Brown University and completed a postdoctoral fellow at the New-York Historical Society and the Lang College Department of History at The New School.

He began teaching at Weber State in fall 2019; one of his courses is a new history class on African-American leaders.

From Poverty to Professor 

On Monday, August 26, 2019, Eladio Bobadilla started his dream job. The bespectacled, Mexican-American scholar, with a perceptive gaze and Ph.D. from Duke, entered a University of Kentucky classroom and introduced himself to students as an assistant professor of U.S. history. It was a day Bobadilla would likely describe as surreal, given that, as a teenager, he had all but resigned himself to a life of back-breaking labor alongside his immigrant parents in the grape fields of Delano, California.

With insensitive high school teachers belittling his low math scores, guidance counselors urging him to seek only vocational training, and a lackluster 2.2 GPA, Bobadilla had pretty much abandoned all hope of attending college.

Looking to fast-track his U.S. citizenship, Bobadilla enlisted in the U.S. Navy. To while away long stretches of down time during an eight-month deployment to Kuwait, Bobadilla read books about U.S. history and politics, particularly those authored by writers like Howard Zinn, who “complicated” the past by peppering traditional accounts of great men with lesser known stories about slaves, common laborers, dissident soldiers and scrappy radicals.

Bobadilla was honorably discharged in 2009. Soon after, he enrolled at Weber State, whose open admissions policy he learned about from Timaree Smith, a Navy yeoman from Monroe, Utah, who he met during his military service, and later married. Both Eladio and Timaree graduated from WSU in 2013.

With help and encouragement from faculty mentors, Bobadilla parlayed his academic achievements at WSU and Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree in history, English and international politics, into the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship and other prestigious fellowships and grants at Duke University. As his study of American history progressed, his personal connection to and passion for the topics of class, race and immigrants’ rights deepened.

Bobadilla says he hopes his inspiring journey honors his parents, neither of whom had schooling beyond the elementary grade level, and the sacrifices of millions of immigrants like them. He urges young people from marginalized populations who find themselves on the brink of giving up on higher education, to fight for hope.