Anne Smith Hastings
I have come to view my enrolling at UNC-CH for graduate study in the Department of Sociology as one of those unplanned and unanticipated detours in life plans that sometimes go awry. I had started my graduate program in Sociology at Cornell University, having graduated from Georgia Southern. I had worked for a few years before applying to study for the Ph.D. Cornell was offering me a great scholarship, and I accepted the offer, packed up my belongings and “moved” to Ithaca, New York. On the first day there, a current graduate student took me on a tour of Ithaca’s campus. He was probably not Cornell’s best “face” of the department, since he emphasized the number of suicides of Cornell students in general off one of the main bridges over one of the gorges, as we walked the campus. In addition, two of the faculty with whom I had hoped to work had taken new jobs (they were married to each other) at UC-Santa Barbara.
It was at that point, I decided I was NOT enrolling at Cornell. Fast forward to the summer of 1981; I was working in Rocky Mount as a social worker, with plans to go back for my graduate degree in Sociology – at UNC. I was a NC resident at that point, and so I drove to Chapel Hill, walked into the Department of Sociology, asked to speak to the Chair of the department or to set up an appointment.
That chair, at that time, was Peter Marsden (maybe Associate Chair? I don’t remember), but I do remember his parting words to me after our conversation, which were something along the lines of “if you were accepted to Cornell, I’m sure you meet the requirements for UNC.” I left with the intention of sending in my application and finishing up my job in Rocky Mount – only I was waffling enough about the decision (a paying job or years more of school), that I delayed in doing anything about entering UNC. That is, until just before August when school would start back at UNC, I received a phone call from Peter at my home, with words that gave me the courage to start at UNC – those words? “Anne, we’re waiting to grant you admission to the program and a teaching assistantship, but you’ve got to get your paper work in!”
The rest is history, and I have never regretted the decision. I have memories of our 20 assigned books in Craig Calhoun’s theory class – some of those memories were of falling asleep in Davis while trying to read them. Peter managed to make statistics enjoyable for those of us not so inclined in that area.
Jack Kasarda is the reason I am still at UNC teaching, when he called me back after the Ph.D. was awarded, with these words – “you’re the best undergrad teacher we have, and we want you to come back and teach, and we’re not going to pay you like a graduate student.” Those words were the start of my almost continuous 36 years’ involvement with the department, not counting the two years Tom and I were in California for his job.
Tom and I met in the Department of Sociology and married each other in 1985. Finally, I am writing this at my desktop computer in the Department of Sociology in May, 2017, preparing for finals this week!
submitted April 2017