Madara Straume

University of Latvia

Fellowship received in 2022
Academic supervisor: Talis Tisenkopfs
Current affiliation: Latvian

Academic achievements, social engagement initiatives: 

Among the fellow's academic achievements could be mentioned being included in the Dean's list from 2015-2017 during her bachelor degree obtainment studies in University of North Carolina Wilmington in America - from 2015 until the fall of 2017 the fellow received only A and B level grades in all courses. In 2018 she received her bachelor's degree in sociology from University of North Carolina Wilmington. From 2019-2021 the fellow studied in University of Latvia to obtain a master's degree. There her average grade was 8.95, and she received a 10 (the highest possible grade) for her master's thesis "The role of social networks in the career development of professional athletes". Madara's social engagement activities include participation in various community service activities, which she values highly. The fellow has organized an event in the past at the Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington. While studying in the United States and being the leader of the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) tennis team, the fellow organized an educational event, which included sport’s activities for 60 children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The fellow together with the rest of the UNCW tennis team taught children how to play tennis, she also organized the obtainment of the tennis equipment and the educational materials, helped with the marketing of the event, advertised the event on social networks, helped to expand the understanding of the youth’s education and facilitated an active lifestyle with her volunteering efforts. While studying in the United States, the fellow also participated in a volunteering event, where she played tennis with adults with disabilities and developed their tennis skills. Beyond volunteering that is connected to sport in the United States the fellow has also participated in beach sweeps several times in Wilmington and has helped to expand the understanding regarding attitude towards the environment. Madara felt also that it is very important to bring back the experience gained in the United States to her home country Latvia, where she became a member of a volunteering organization Palīdzē There she assisted children with a socially and economically disadvantaged background and children with disabilities. During the Christmas time the fellow helped to organize an event and engaged in activities with the children and helped to deliver food and presents for the event. While working with this organization the fellow helped this Latvian volunteering organization to gather donations for children who have experienced social and economic hardship and children with disabilities. Besides the fellow’s volunteering past experiences and the desire to serve the wider community, the fellow also in the present moment by doing her daily work is serving others, while working as a tennis coach. This work gives an opportunity for Madara to assist her clients for them to become better tennis players technically and psychologically. Madara's other work in the social and market research company, where she works as the project manager gives her the opportunity to organize the work of interviewers working for the company. In the future the fellow will continue to serve others and is planning to collaborate more with Palīdzē and to create sporting and educational events for children with disabilities or with disadvantaged backgrounds in Latvia. The fellow also is planning to continue working as a tennis coach to develop young, perspective tennis players and to also assist adults in their skill development in tennis.


Madara Straume is currently 26 years old and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in the University of Latvia in the program "Sociology and social work" and her thesis theme is "The role of social networks in the career development of professional athletes". Madara finished high school in Murjanu Sports Gymnasium. After finishing high school she studied sociology in bachelor's degree level and in master's degree level. Bachelor's degree she obtained in the United States - from 2014-2015 she studied in Louisiana State University, but from 2015-2018 in University of North Carolina Wilmington. During those four years she had a full athletic scholarship in Division I tennis program. Madara represented the universities she studied in by playing in the tennis team. As mentioned previously, from 2015-2017 she was in the Dean's list because she received in all courses A or B level. Besides the good grades in studies Madara had very good results in tennis competition. From 2015-2018 she competed in the nr.1 position on the team and in 2017 she had a very good season, obtaining a 16-3 record (16 wins and 3 losses). In 2017 she was named the Most Outstanding Performer in CAA Championship, where Madara won in all games in singles and in doubles. The fellow was named the best player in the CAA conference, which allowed her to get in the ITA Oracle Masters tournament in which only the best player from each conference in America gets in. Since September of 2018 the fellow works in market and social research center "Latvian Facts" as a project manager. From 2019-2021 she studied in University of Latvia, where she obtained her master's degree and received a 10 (the highest possible grade) for her master's thesis.

The fellow is currently working on the literature review for her dissertation in order to gather information about the importance of various social networks of a professional athlete. Work on this is continuous and is being supplemented. The fellow is also working on building the theoretical framework for the dissertation as well as building the research design and methodology. At the present moment the fellow has established the methodology, and the fellow is working on the preparation of a social network map of a professional athlete. The plan is to complete pilot interviews at first and then to use the gathered data to understand how to reflect data as a social network map, since social network mapping will be used in the fellow's dissertation. The field work itself will consist of in-depth interviews with professional athletes and the qualitative inquiry will be deepened with the social network mapping. Grounded theory approach will also potentially be used to develop a new theory out of data. The fellow is planning to participate in the XX ISA World Congress of Sociology to gain valuable feedback and insight that would aid in the completion of the fellow's writing of the dissertation as well as in writing a publication. Also, the fellow potentially will attend a summer school course next summer - the idea is to attend a social network analysis course, since the fellow is describing the importance of social networks in the development of career of professional athletes in her dissertation and will be using social network analysis in her dissertation. All these academic activities will hopefully lead to an added value in the sport sociology field in Latvia and internationally.

Madara has a profile in LinkedIn and Facebook - she can be found there as Madara Straume. Her Instagram profile is madara.straume.

To contact this fellow, email the Sylff Association at sylff[a] (replace [a] with @).