Amy Ernstes, MA ’12

Amy Ernstes

I initially began my college career as a double major in creative writing and psychology. I felt it suited my long-standing love for writing, as well as my tendency towards perpetual analysis. However, for reasons of practicality alongside my growing motivation to pursue meaningful work to benefit others, I ended up switching to social work. I left my hometown for Chicago, where I completed a bachelors and masters in that field.

After several years in Chicago gaining experience in clinical work with at-risk teens and administrative work with an alliance to end homelessness, I decided that I needed both a new field and a change of scenery. While the goal of social work never diminished for me, I realized that frustrations I was experiencing came from a strong desire to step beyond the limits of these roles. I realized that my insistence upon a *big picture* framing of the social issues related to my work might find a better home elsewhere. Sociology was the logical choice.

I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up in the graduate program at UNCG. The Sociology Department is filled with people who not only have a genuine passion for sociology, but truly care about their students. Thus, I am now all the more proud to be a part of that team. Now teaching in this department, I hope that I can reflect back to my students the push towards critical thought and care that I found in my teachers here. What continues to motivate me in this field is not only its penchant for analysis (always asking: Why?), but its rootedness in doing so for means of giving back to society. In this role, I am motivated by finding new ways to encourage sociological thinking, and am inspired by the ways in which students find the practice of the sociological imagination meaningful in their own lives.

The realm of academia has proven the perfect fit for my love of writing and analysis; sociology has provided the framework most valuable to me, and teaching has fulfilled my desire to work with others in a personally meaningful way. I plan to further my academic career by pursuing study at the Ph.D. level, but will always credit UNCG’s Sociology Department with helping me find my direction.