Michaela Simmons - TGI's Fabulous Volunteer Print E-mail
derrick and michaela
Michaela with Scholar, Derrick Foster


TGI is pleased to welcome its newest volunteer, Michaela Simmons.  Michaela learned about TGI through its website. She liked what she saw and asked if she could help.  As a graduate student in Sociology at UC Berkeley, we were thrilled and fortunate that she found us!  We put Michaela to work writing articles for e-news letter (see her stories about TGI’s featured scholar and its first semester). This was a tremendous help because TGI has been a little quiet on the Internet front and we have so much great news to share!

Michaela is a local girl, raised in San Jose.  She attended US San Diego as an undergrad where a professor encouraged her join the sociology department.  Always interested in issues of poverty and committed to helping marginalized people, Michaela felt that women’s voices were absent from the discourse around incarceration and the criminalization of poor people.  She got involved with the organization, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS), and started a chapter in San Diego.  FACTS was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 36 – Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012.  (To learn more: click on FACTS and Prop 36.)    

While at FACTS, Michaela interviewed mothers of incarcerated sons for her undergraduate thesis.  She found that many mothers experienced a “second motherhood” in caring for their adult sons during their prison term. She also described the “emotional labor”, that is the emotional stress, anxiety and worry, mothers experienced as a result of their sons’ imprisonment.  You can read more of Michaela’s thought-provoking research in her article, “Voices on the Outside: Mass Incarceration and the Women Left Behind”, published in The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in 2012.  And, YES, you should be impressed!

What appeals to Michaela in working with TGI is its use of a community-based participatory research approach to all its work.  “It seems like an egalitarian model for research and I want to learn more about it.”  Michaela is also excited to be in the MS to PhD program in Sociology at UC Berkeley.  When asked if she enjoys being back in the Bay Area after living in San Diego, Michaela smiled and said, “I like it but I really miss the beach.”  Welcome to TGI Michaela! We are excited to have you!