Undergraduate Spotlight: Nate James

Q:  Where are you from and why did you decide to attend the University of Maryland?

A:  I’m a junior sociology major and currently reside with my family in Bowie, Maryland. My dad had graduated from the University of Maryland College Park, and so of course I had always envisioned graduating here as well. I also wanted to attend a high quality school that was a minimal distance away from my immediate family as well as my church in Riverdale (5 minutes from UMD). So, after receiving my Associates Degree in General Studies from Anne Arundel Community College, I gladly took the opportunity to transfer to College Park.

Q:  Why did you decide to major in Sociology?  What are your specific interests within Sociology?

A:  I’ve always had a love for people and diversity. So, when I arrived at Maryland I initially wanted to become a Communications major because of my natural bend towards working with the public. Complications materialized with that endeavor however, and I needed an alternative fast. I found that alternative while taking Beverly Pratt’s “Social Problems” course. I remember being consistently inspired and challenged by eye-opening teaching on and insight into the plight of the oppressed in very our own country.  There were more heart breaking moments during the course of those 15 weeks than I can count; moments I wouldn’t trade for the world. These moments awakened me to the needless suffering of millions of the impoverished and disenfranchised in an incredibly wealthy nation, and influenced my decision to become a sociologist. I chose this major because I’m persuaded that it will put me in the best possible position to discern patterns of societal injustice and to challenge them in the most effective manner. Hopefully the paycheck will be somewhat decent as well!

Q:  What has your experience been like as an undergraduate student in sociology?  What will you “take away” from this experience?

A:  Right now I’m only in my second semester of the sociology program, and quite honestly it has not been easy! Sociology 201(Research Methods) is a real “gut-checker” of a course that I’m taking this semester. Apparently this and its counterpart course (Sociology 202) have caused more than a few aspiring sociologist students to reconsider their entire academic trajectory.

Sociology is by no means a “soft science.” Nevertheless, I’m confident the hard work is stretching me to make a greater difference in our world eventually. In the meantime, the most enjoyable aspects of being in the sociology program have been incredible professors as well as the company of my classmates. They continue to provoke and challenge me be the best student I can be.

Q:  What are your career plans and goals after you graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland? 

A:  Given that research positions seem to be the most common option available to 4-year graduates, I anticipate at least initially doing something down that vein. One area I want to delve into is income inequality by race, and then to hopefully shed light on previously unknown causes of such disparities. A bit vague perhaps, but everyone starts somewhere right?

Q:  What does Sociological Imagination mean to you?

A:  The Sociological Imagination is basically my contemplation of how my life’s narrative connects with the broader storyline of American society and ultimately the world. It’s what helps me convert social theory into the “language” of my everyday life.

Nate is a junior undergraduate student.

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