Growing up in the Caribbean, Saint Leo University's Dr. Janis Prince spent time as a teenager with an aunt who lives in Antigua and is a sociologist.

So you would think that at least part of the reason why Dr. Prince became a sociologist was to follow in her aunt's footsteps.

Not consciously.

"I never thought much about what she did," says Dr. Prince. "Like most people, I thought I knew what sociology was – assuming it was somewhere between psychology and social work."

In fact, she started out in college majoring in psychology.

That is until she took her first sociology course, Introduction to Sociology, to fulfill an academic requirement.

"I think I had a natural inclination toward sociology because when I was a child, my favorite question was 'why,'" she says. "So when I took my first sociology course and it answered so many of my 'why' questions,' I fell completely and madly in love with the field and haven't looked back since."

A field for the 'endlessly curious'

Renowned sociologist Dr. Peter L. Berger says that he, too, discovered sociology by mistake. And what Berger believes makes a good sociologist is exactly that natural sense of curiosity that Dr. Prince exhibited as a child.

"A good sociologist is the kind of person who looks through keyholes and reads other people's mail," he says. "What mainly drew me in was the endless curiosity about what makes people tick."

Dr. Prince likes to quote Berger, herself, when explaining why the field captivates her.

"Dr. Berger says that 'the fascination of sociology lies in the fact that its perspective makes us see in a new light the very world in which we have lived all our lives.' And I couldn't agree more."

Mentored by sociology pioneer Dr. Lillian Rubin

Another pioneer in the field of sociology who greatly influenced Dr. Prince's career path was Dr. Lillian B. Rubin, who wrote the textbook for the second sociology course she took, Sociology of the Family.

"I read that book and it was magic to me," says Dr. Prince. "So when one of my professors asked me if I would like to meet her, I was floored."

Dr. Rubin was a visiting member of the faculty working with a small group of students– and Dr. Prince was part of the elite group selected for her seminar.

She recalls that Dr. Rubin introduced her to qualitative research, her first assignment being to ride the New York City subway and take notes.

"She was a leader in the field, and we stayed in touch until she died last year."

5 questions

If you're thinking about an online sociology degree program as a path to becoming a sociologist, take a few minutes to listen to Dr. Prince as she discusses her own educational journey and career.

Dr. Prince answers five questions in the video. You can listen to the interview in its entirety or click on a question to go directly to that response.

What fascinates you about the field of sociology?

Image credits: Tashatuvango on Shutterstock; Saint Leo University Communications

Video credit: Mike Dadez, Saint Leo University