Last updateThu, 02 Apr 2020 1pm


Meet Dr. Nancy Mezey of the Sociology Department

For students, returning to the University for a new semester means being immersed once again in their studies and extracurricular activities. For Dr. Nancy Mezey, Associate Professor of sociology it means returning to “the best job in the world.”

Mezey has been teaching at the University for 12 years and still enjoys coming to work. Initially, the beautiful campus is what brought her here. The best part of her job, however, is the students. “I find that the students that come to Monmouth University are really eager to learn about new things, and when they’re in a sociology class it just opens their minds in ways that sociology opened my mind when I was young,” said Mezey.

Sociology has fascinated Mezey since her first semester as an undergraduate student. The theory aspect of the subject was what first sparked her interest and her volunteer experience at a maximum security prison for men furthered it. “I think what really excited me about sociology was finding a discipline that made sense of social inequalities and could analyze social inequalities and actually work to try to change social inequalities,” said Mezey.

Specializing in family relationships and gender, Mezey teaches classes such as Family Sociology and The Sociology of Aging as well as Introduction to Gender Studies, Gender and Sexual Identities and Introduction to Sociology, but which one is her favorite?

“Whichever one I’m standing in at the time. I’m the youngest of four daughters, and my father would always say that his favorite child is the one who’s sitting closest to him,” said Mezey. Her favorite part about Introduction to Sociology is exposing students to a new subject, and her Gender Studies classes “totally rock people’s world.” Her passion in sociology lies in family studies.

Because of her experience and research in family studies, Mezey was recently featured in a Time Magazine article about childless families. She was approached by the author before the 2012 presidential elections, though the article was not published until August 2013. The article talks about women who decide to live a fulfilling life without having children. It also discusses how American culture “equates womanhood with motherhood,” according to Time Magazine.

Mezey said the presidential election delayed the publication of the article for nearly a year. “I totally forgot about it, quite honestly, until I saw the cover and I said—I know this article!” Mezey recalls the experience of working with a journalist from Time Magazine as fun and exciting.

The practicality of sociology is what motivates her in teaching and practicing the subject. “I’ve had a fair amount of male students, when they take my Intro to Gender Studies class, come up to me and say, ‘I wish I had taken this course before I broke up with my girlfriend’,” explained Mezey. Being able to share the “I-want-to-change-the-world” aspect of sociology with her students drives and motivates her as a professor.

Not only is Mezey a professor who is passionate about her subject, but she is also Director of the Sociology program, Curriculum Coordinator for the Gender Studies program and advisor for the sociology club. She prides herself on building the sociology program during her 12 years at the University. When Mezey first came to work here, there was no sociology minor. The program began to grow shortly after she was hired. “Within two years we had a minor, within three years that minor had 65 students in it and eight years later we had a major,” said Mezey. The major now consists of about 40 students.

Some of her experiences are what makes Mezey stand out among her colleagues. Before coming to the University, Mezey served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa. She said the experience humbled her and definitely plays a part in who she is as a professor. “I think what I bring to the classroom is an understanding of diverse cultures and a patience that you only learn in no other way than you would learn in the Peace Corps,” said Mezey.

Mezey also feels that she can relate to many of her students in terms of growing up in a privileged family and attending a private undergraduate University in Michigan. Mezey’s sociological mind also affects her teaching. “I do bring some similarities to some of the students here, but I also bring some experiences that they haven’t had but might be interested in, and I’m willing to share those with them,” she said.

Having been in the shoes of her undergraduate students facing the real world after graduation, Mezey offers some advice. “Follow your heart,” she said. “I think there’s a huge concern with students to go out and get a job the minute that you step out of college, and I’m concerned about that. I’m concerned that students are really anxious about that, and I’m concerned that students are possibly chasing the wrong rainbow.” She urges students to go after the things that they are passionate about. Mezey said that it’s not about obtaining the dream job immediately after graduating, but the process of getting to that job.

The sociology department is ever-evolving. According to Mezey, the program is looking to introduce courses on topics such as gender class in prisons, immigration and more global classes. Also coming in the Spring is “Stratified Streets: A Visual Tour of Sociology,” hosted every year by the Sociology Club. Last year, the club visited New York City to see the African Burial Ground National Monument, where they honored thousands of ex-slaves and freed slaves whose graves have been built over in Manhattan. “I always feel that up in the north, we were freer here, and yet we’re walking around New York City and you’re walking, essentially, on people’s graves. It was really amazing to me,” said Mezey.

For Mezey, there is no other job that could be bigger or more fulfilling than working at the University. She is humbled to work on such a beautiful campus with “fabulous” colleagues and students, she said. “We talk in the department. We don’t really go to work, we go to Monmouth University.”

Photo Taken by Casey Wolfe

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151