Thomas-John (TJ) Zamora

What do you do professionally?

TJ serves as a lead administrator for The Polyclinic, a Seattle-based health clinic owned and operated by physicians.  The Polyclinic offers primary care focused on prevention, disease management and is run by specialist physicians and surgeons.  TJ is responsible for patient scheduling, billing, and facilitating patients through the health care system of the clinic and health insurance companies.  He previously worked as a Program Coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County – Mukilteo Unit.  He said the career change was a long and difficult process, but that his skills and knowledge with customer service and children helped him obtain his current position.

How did your Sociology degree help prepare you for your work?

“I find myself always looking at demographic patterns in our clients, and I link so much of this to my time thinking about these issues in the Sociology department.  I see how customers react to billing concerns, appointment scheduling, or some of the other day to day functions of the office.  There are pretty clear patterns as to how individuals react based on income and other demographic factors.  I’m fascinated by these trends.  I also think my Sociology degree has helped in the way I approach customers.  I feel like I’m better at understanding where they come from, and my ability to empathize with different groups of people has certainly been enhanced by my Sociology background."

Did you have a favorite class in the Sociology Department?

“I took two courses from Dr. Tsunokai, one on race and one on social inequality that really stand out for me.  For a person of color, I was pretty oblivious or naïve as to how people treat others based on the way they look.  Growing up in Lynnwood I never really perceived any differences in the way I was treated in comparison to my friends, but after taking those two classes I began to look back on my high school experiences and was able to recognize the numerous ways I had been treated differently than my peers.  I found myself wanting to learn more about why these interactions exist in our society.”   

If you could go back to Sociology at WWU all over again, would you do anything differently?

“I wish I would have started with Sociology from the beginning.  I contemplated Geography, Math, and Communications before settling on Sociology as my major.  My experience in the GURs really opened my eyes because I never really knew what Sociology was as a discipline.  After my experience in the Sociology GUR courses, I was inspired to learn more and more.”

What career advice would you offer for current Sociology majors?

“I would tell students to never give up!  So many times I applied for positions that I thought would fit my skills, only to be rejected, or told that they were choosing someone else.  It can get discouraging, but don’t give up because if you keep going, something will eventually open up.  The right opportunities are there for you, so keep going!” 

What are your favorite ways to spend time when you are not working?

“I play volleyball, a lot of board games, and I enjoy hanging out with my friends. Currently I’ve been focused on staying fit so I go my local gym regularly to stay in shape.  I really embrace living and working in the Seattle area, and sometimes I just walk around to neighborhoods as if I were a tourist.  I love to spend time exploring the city, and there is always time for happy hour at a neighborhood bar.”