BA with Honors ’78, MA ‘95
Does anyone go to college planning to major in Sociology? I am now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Elon University and I rarely see incoming first year students indicating Sociology. But then they take that Intro class and, many times, they are hooked! That’s exactly what happened to me way back in 1974. When I entered all I knew was how thrilled I was to be attending my life-long dream school, UNC-Chapel Hill. I didn’t even apply anywhere else. And then I took Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 10, is that right?) and I was hooked! I loved my time in my major, working with professors like Peter Uhlenberg (I was allowed to take the grad level stats class…which we called baby-stats when I was in grad school) in my senior year and, especially, a Demography class taught by a visiting prof from UVa whose name I don’t remember. I remember Theory taught by a British professor and Methods by John Shelton Reed. And, of course, the Honors Program led by Dr. Richard Cramer. Good times!
Fast forward 13 years…I had been working in the banking industry and had even started an MBA program at UNC-W. That didn’t work out due to family and work obligations, but being a student again was something I craved. And so I returned to what I loved…Sociology and UNC. This time I did at least apply elsewhere (Duke, ugh, but I was geographically limited!), and was accepted into both PhD programs. Not a hard choice to make when I got the phone call from Dr. Barbara Entwisle recruiting me to UNC. I entered the program in August, 1991.
I have to admit, grad school was not my favorite experience, but it got me where I am so I can’t say I would change anything. I had wonderful instructors and mentors, Dr. Entwisle, Dr. Bollen, Dr. Aldrich, Dr, Kleinman, Dr. Nielsen, and, especially, Dr. Kathleen Harris. For the first two years I had a research assistantship at the Carolina Population Center, my particular interest was mostly in Demography. Then I wanted to try teaching and so took Howard Aldrich’s class and that set me on the path I am still on. I discovered that I have a talent for teaching…but not so much for research.
Given that devastating realization, I left the program after receiving my MA in December, 1995. I immediately got a job at College of Charleston for a semester because they had a professor who had fallen sick and needed someone right away and I was available. Then I hit the adjunct circuit, eventually landing at Elon University in Spring, 1997 and then gaining a full-time position in Fall, 1998. I am still here and I love teaching at Elon. Without the PhD I am currently technically staff, but with a split contract; Director of Tutorial Services and Assistant Professor of Sociology. I teach anywhere from 12-16 hours/year (on a 4 hour system) and run the peer tutoring program. Elon has been very good to me, giving me extensive study abroad opportunities as well as service opportunities within the University. I am a part of Elon and Elon is a part of me. That would never have happened without my education at UNC. And I truly still love Sociology, to which my students could easily attest!
Submitted February 2016