Profile of a Professor: Dr. Amy Sopack-Joseph, history

Genny Frederick, Staff Writer

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Dr. Amy Sopcak-Joseph is one of the newest members of the global cultures department. Sopack-Joseph is an assistant professor of history.

This semester Sopack-Joseph is teaching a survey of American history course and a colonial America course. This spring she will be teaching a course on the Civil War and is excited for the opportunity to cover nearly 400 years of American history.

Sopack-Joseph is from Greensburg, Pa., and is happy to be back in her home state, close to family. She graduated from Dickenson College with a double major in English and History.

The Beacon/ Parker Dorsey
Dr. Amy Sopcak-Joseph

“As an undergrad I liked both reading literature and learning about history. In the end, history kind of won out because that’s what I ended up doing in graduate school,” she said.

She went on to the University of Connecticut where she earned a masters and Ph.D. with research centered on 19th century women’s periodicals, including gender and media print culture. 

“I really loved the campus and community feel when I was here for a visit,” she said. I found my new colleagues to be very interesting and welcoming.”

She began to love Wilkes after coming for a tour. After attending Dickenson, a small liberal arts college, she knew she wanted to teach at one also. She explains how her experiences pushed her to come to a small liberal arts college like Wilkes.

“Being at UConn was great, but it was always a little foreign to me in terms of the kind of experience that I wanted. I really wanted to be somewhere that I knew who all of my students are and I could say hi to students walking around campus. And that’s exactly what I’ve gotten here,” she added.

Sopcak-Joseph credits her professors for making college a formative time in her life and for seeing potential in her that she didn’t know was there.

“I had always thought about teaching. I went to college thinking I was going to be an English teacher,” said Sopack-Joseph. “My senior year I had a professor who said, ‘Hey, you’re really good at this history thing you should think about grad school.’ And I said ‘What is that?’ because I’m a first-generation college student, so no one had told me what graduate school was and that I could still continue to do school, which sounded really exciting to me.”

A piece of advice she  wants to give to students is to reach out to their professors. She believes she could have reached out more as a student and urges students to talk to their professors, not only about academics but also careers and their future.

Sopcak-Joseph expresses her desire to be to her students what her teachers were to her.

“I want to be here to support my students as they make their way through their courses and their careers,” she added. “Reach out to your professors because they are here to help you grow as people. It never hurts to make that kind of outreach to them.”

She hopes to help other first-generation college students. Outside of school, Sopcak-Joseph enjoys visiting museums and historical monuments.

She hopes to spend some time exploring Philadelphia, as well as the hiking trails in our area. One thing she found surprising about the area was how much she loved the landscape of the area and the historic architecture prevalent throughout Wilkes-Barre.

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