Sarah Jirek


Associate Professor of Sociology
Phone: (805) 565-6278
Office Location: Deane Hall 209

Office Hours
Only by appointment

Human Services, Sociological Practice, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Violence, Trauma Recover

Sarah L. Jirek

Professor Jirek, a former Westmont valedictorian, returned to her alma mater as a faculty member in 2014. Her current research project explores the sociological factors—related to social context, intersectional identities, structural systems of privilege and oppression, and cumulative adversity—that impact trauma recovery and the development of posttraumatic growth. Dr. Jirek’s other teaching and research interests include gender, social inequalities, identity, violence, deviance, prison re-entry, meaning-making, narrative, and resilience. When not teaching, researching, or training for her next marathon, she enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, and spending time with her husband and friends.

Professor Jirek teaches:

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Human Services and Social Policy
  • Field Placement
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Interpersonal Violence


  • Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work, University of Michigan
  • M.S.W. in Social Work, University of Michigan
  • B.A. in Sociology (Human Services Track), Westmont College

Research Interests

  • Gendered violence
  • Trauma recovery and posttraumatic growth
  • How organizations, institutions, and helping professionals can play a more effective role in facilitating positive life change


  • Jirek, Sarah L. (2015). “Soul Pain: The Hidden Toll of Working with Survivors of Physical and Sexual Violence.” SAGE Open, 5(3), 1-13. doi: 10.1177/2158244015597905
  • Sumerau, J., & Jirek, Sarah L. (October 2015). “Post-Apocalyptic Inequalities: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexualities in Firefly.” In B. Gurr (Ed.), Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Post-Apocalyptic TV and Film (Ch. 5, pp. 71-84). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jirek, Sarah L. (under review). “Narrative Reconstruction and Posttraumatic Growth Among Trauma Survivors: The Importance of Narrative in Social Work Research and Practice.”

Selected Conference Presentations

  • Jirek, Sarah L. (2013). “‘I Really Want To Help People’: Survivor Helpers, Survivor Missions, and Survivors’ Empowerment.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology.
  • Jirek, Sarah L. (2012). “Cumulative Adversity and Other Correlates and Predictors of Posttraumatic Growth.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
  • Jirek, Sarah L. (2009). “Organizational Responses to Vicarious Trauma Among Advocates Working with Domestic Violence Survivors.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education.