30 Grads in 30 Days: Marina Sarran

Marina Sarran (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Name: Marina Sarran

Degree: Ph.D.

Field of study: Sociology

Faculty Adviser: Sociology professor Dane Archer

Undergraduate education: B.A., UC Santa Cruz, intercultural communication

Most memorable experience at UCSC?

I felt very honored to receive the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2007, and the prestigious Chancellor's Dissertation-Year Fellowship the following year, 2008. It is rather uncommon for a doctoral student to get both. It is great to get such recognition in both teaching and research!

Favorite spot on campus and why?

The Re-entry Student Center at the ARC, right above the music center. It is a splendid location with a gorgeous view of the ocean, and it houses the wonderful STARS staff--they are fabulously supportive and have provided a great place for me to feel at home on campus whenever I needed it.

How has your UCSC graduate education shaped you professionally?

I was born and raised in Southern Italy and come from a nontraditional background. UCSC offers a rather casual, small-town environment, with an appreciation for the value of what is original, different, creative, and nontraditional. This can be helpful in getting to know faculty quite well, working inter-departmentally and inter-disciplinarily, and forging good collegial connections. It was really great for me to be able to be involved at campus level in university service, spending much time on academic committees. I learned how academia really functions as a system, and how power and politics play a part in the life of the institution. That, together with a lot of teaching and research, gave me a reality-based, fairly clear professional vision of who I want to be as a scholar.

What are your plans after graduation?

Looking for a publisher for my book (I believe my thesis can be published as a book for a fairly wide audience), co-authoring a couple of projects, writing and chilling out for some time, waiting to see what happens with the economy and what opportunities open up.


My entire journey in this country has been a huge accomplishment. In the United States population, less than 1 percent of women complete doctoral degrees; doing that in a second language, as a single parent, and an immigrant, pushes even further in outlier territory.

I have deeply enjoyed working on my thesis project, titled Love in America. It is an ethnographic study of emotions, and particularly love, in cross-cultural perspective. My research explores cultural differences in the perception and construction of attraction, affect, love, and sexuality. Unique courtship repertoires (defined as "dating") separate American culture from most other societies; I seek to provide some light on matters of the human heart, and the powerful yet subtle way in which culture produces specific scripts and expectations on how romantic passages occur within a given society.