Graduate student, Jessica Severance considers herself "lucky", for she has been fortunate to view Fayetteville State University from two different perspectives. While she is employed as a coordinator of the survey center for the Research Center for Health Disparities, she is also a student majoring in sociology in the master's program.
She says the blessing in that is, "I end up working with the same people in the department. I not only get to work for them, but I also get to work with them."
Prior to joining the staff at FSU, Jessica earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and women's studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and worked at a research center in Chapel Hill for three years. When she made the decision to return to her hometown, it was without reluctance.
"I came back because I missed my family, and I landed a great job for a sociology major. It just made sense to pursue my master's degree while working at FSU because they have an awesome program. The faculty and staff we have in our department are well-versed in every aspect of sociology...You can tell that they really want you to learn. You are not just an identification number, but instead they know you by name. In the past, I've been in situations where you were just the number on the blue book."
Jessica entered the graduate program at FSU in 2005, and is looking forward to finishing this December. A member of both the Sociology Club and Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society, she has always been attracted to issues of stratification and equality, race and ethnicity, and women's issues. Her thesis topic, "Violence Against Pregnant Women in North Carolina", is one that she is most passionate about.
She shares, "That subject is something that is dear to me and my family. My mother is an advocate, and I want to continue that legacy because I know it is important to her."
Jessica adds that she has never had any reservations about her career choice. She feels, "I would like to believe that I model the thinking of Sherryl Kleinman, a well-known professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. In one of her writings, she said she always thought of herself as a sociologist."
"When I went to school, and I found out there were classes that dealt with social issues, I couldn't get enough of it. To me, it would be hard to imagine majoring in a field that I will not enjoy working in everyday. This is a field that lets you explore diverse interests," she explains.
When asked about her dual role as a student and an employee, she replies, "I think Fayetteville State is a great place to work. Working here, you get to work with some of the best faculty and staff. I am lucky to be surrounded by a great group of intellectuals and just great people in general...Being a staff member and student really go hand-in-hand. There is no line that divides the two duties. I am constantly getting graded for my schoolwork or either evaluated for my job performance."
In the future, Jessica would like to teach at FSU and begin her doctoral studies after taking a much needed break.