Elizabeth Keister, Associate Professor of Sociology, talks about teaching at Albright College.
Meet Our Faculty: Elizabeth Keister
I realized I was passionate about sociology when I was talking to other people about it. I decided to go back to school and pursue a graduate degree in sociology. And while I was there, I started spending time in the classroom. I started spending time talking to students about sociology. I decided to stay and finish my Ph.D and go on to be a teacher. My name is Elizabeth Kiester. I am an associate professor of sociology here at Albright College. There are so many great topics to talk about in sociology. And I have two favorites. My first favorite is Family Studies, and the way that families are important to our lives, both as individuals and as a society. And my other favorite topic is Immigration Studies. But I even talk about immigration studies from a family perspective, and how the act of migrating or who's doing the migration really has an impact on the family unit. My favorite thing about teaching sociology is teaching students to see things they already see, in a different way. When I can teach them to look at it through what we call the sociological imagination. They have these lightbulb moments, these aha moments, when they suddenly understand the world from a different perspective, and I love those moments. I have a lot of expectations of my students, but it's nothing they can't handle. In my class, you're going to do a lot of writing. You're going to do a lot of reading. You're going to do a lot of discussing. I want to know how you feel about it how you think. Sometimes there's not a right answer. A lot of times in life, there's not a right answer. But I want you to have the skills to research what the answer might be to form a well founded, well argued reason, and argument about something. And so I'm going to hold you to a high standard, but I'm going to give you all the tools you need to be successful. It's fun to work with students who already think sociology is for them. But it's also really interesting to help students find their way when they're not really sure what they want. Usually, the first question I asked those students is what makes you happy, because we're going to spend so much of our lives working, we should really find something that brings us joy.
One of my jobs as a professor is to help students reach their full potential. I do this by challenging them, by giving them activities and assignments, that they might see as being too hard. But I give them the guidance, I give them the tools, and I teach them that they can in fact achieve the things that I've set forward for them to do. And one of my favorite things is when a student gets it, and they see that they were actually really successful in completing an assignment that they maybe thought that they weren't going to be able to accomplish. By giving the proper tools we could help all students reach their full potential. Regardless of major, I always tell students, there's a variety of skills they're going to need when they leave the college campus. There are things that every single employer is going to want, whether you're a doctor, a lawyer, or a computer engineer, or a sociologist. Employers want people who are punctual, who can read, who know how to think and do research, and I can teach anybody to do those types of things. Here at Albright, I love the fact that I have the opportunity to do research with my students. In one instance, we studied the sociology of Star Wars and even published an article about it. The piece of advice that I give to students is the same advice that my mentor gave to me. And that is, you got this. It's the advice I give when they get to Albright. It's the advice I give when they are frustrated by an assignment. It's the advice I give when they walk at graduation. It's encouraging and it can be that little voice in their head of me always reminding them throughout the rest of their lives that they really can do this.
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