Erin J. Ferris is an assistant professor of Sociology and Anthropology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Roanoke College and her master’s degree in Applied Sociology from East Tennessee State University.
How did you come to join the Northeast State faculty?
I had earned my bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Roanoke. I moved here and got my master’s degree at East Tennessee State University and was waiting tables at the time. I’m not from the area and honestly didn’t know about Northeast State until someone told me I should apply here because the College was hiring adjunct faculty members. Well, I did and (Behavioral and Social Sciences Division Dean) Dr. Xiaoping Wang called me about an open position as an adjunct faculty member. Two years later when a full-time position came open I applied and was hired.
What piqued your interest as a student about Sociology?
I started out as a Psychology major in college but the brain didn’t interest me as much as groups of people. I really want to know why humans behaved as a group not just individual behavior. Sociology is the study of social relationships through communities, institutions, and human networks. I was really intrigued by all the different cultures and communities and people. With sociology there is no way to get bored. The topics are limitless and can be applied to so many issues and groups.
How do Sociology and Anthropology set a strong baseline of education for students?
Sociology looks at human behavior while anthropology is the study of humans. The discipline looks at many aspects of human life including fossil records, the human body system, food systems, and community systems. You get a good foundation of knowledge about different cultures. Both programs also give students the necessary people skills for understanding human behavior and how to interact with people. Students also get immersed in creative thinking skills. Companies today are hiring sociology majors because they have a different way of looking at the world.
What is special to you about Northeast State?
When I moved here, I didn’t know anyone. Today, many of my colleagues are my friends and a lot of them have become my family. When I get up every morning I don’t have a bad feeling about going to work; I think, ‘Hey, it’s a work day!’ I’m excited to come here and get involved with my classes. When your job doesn’t feel like work, you know you are in a good place.
Why should anyone who is thinking about enrolling in college choose Northeast State?
I think they get to know faculty members care about them and are much more involved than if they were sitting in a class of 200-plus people at a four-year institution. You can be an 18-year-old recent high school graduate or a 55-year-old starting a second career and fit right in a classroom. Non-traditional students should not feel apprehensive because they bring a wealth of information from their experiences into the classroom. The welcoming environment of Northeast State makes this College a less daunting place as opposed to four-year institutions. Plus, you can find a parking space.