Tiffany Chenault of Cincinnati, Ohio (1442 Lemmontree Drive, 45240), a fourth-year doctoral student in sociology at Virginia Tech, has received a $24,460 Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Chenault's dissertation title is "Residentially Effective?: An Ethnographic case study of a Resident Council In A Public Housing Community."

"The purpose of my research is to describe and explain the disjuncture between HUD's expectations for the resident council to be an active agent for community building and the actual practices of the resident council," Chenault explained. Her research relates to HUD's strategic Goal Four: Improve community quality of life and economic vitality.

"This project is an excellent example of 'action-oriented research,' research that strives to make a real difference in the lives of our constituents," said John Ryan, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology

"Resident Councils are supposed to build community, develop, and enhance sufficiency, and make residents a key stakeholder in their public housing community," says Chenault. "There are resident councils that are not doing that. I'm trying to understand 'why?' Since HUD stresses community building in public housing and they invest money and policies around it, then why aren't some resident councils fulfilling the expectations of HUD?"

Chenault did her undergraduate work at Ohio University and earned her master's degree at Virgina Tech. She has also been a newspaper reporter for the Cincinnati Herald and a counselor advocate at a domestic violence shelter, as well as a reading tutor for children.

"For me, sociology provides the tools for understanding how social inequality is created, maintained, and can be eradicated. It can lead to social justice. Everything I've done and studied has evolved around inequality and social justice, and my dissertation is one example of that."

A certified mediator for the state of Virginia, Chenault has also served as president of the sociology graduate student association.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.

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