Faculty Spotlight: Joyce Avotri-Wuaku


Growing up in Ghana, West Africa, Joyce Avotri-Wuaku always felt that teaching came naturally to her. After all, teaching runs in her family. Both of Avotri-Wuaku’s parents were teachers and her father taught at an agricultural college.

“I have always come from the teaching environment and gained a lot of experience helping and teaching my colleagues,” said Avotri-Wuaku. “So, I just knew I needed to do it.”

When Avotri-Wuaku attended one of the only three colleges in Ghana, she began studying philosophy. With her older sister’s influence and the help of one of her professors, she decided to major in sociology.

“That’s how it started. One professor inspired me to take more courses in sociology and I got hooked,” said Avotri-Wuaku.

In 1990, she graduated from the University of Ghana with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. She then completed a year of mandatory national service to her country, working in the university’s sociology department. She then moved to Canada to continue her education.

Avotri-Wuaku earned a master’s in sociology about a year later from McMaster University, where she also earned a doctorate in medical sociology, a field that focuses on the social aspect of health.

In 1998, Avotri-Wuaku and her family moved to Michigan where she started working for a Ford automotive affiliate. Her sociology education allowed her to easily work and deal with people, but she knew it wasn’t the right job for her.

“I felt like a fish out of water. I had taught for so long, so sitting in the office in front of my computer all day was not something I was cut out for,” said Avotri-Wuaku.

She worked for Ford until she got her first teaching job at Lynn College in Tennessee. She planned to move to Tennessee, thinking it would be the last place her family would move to. Then, her husband was offered a teaching position at Florida International University.

Then in 2008, Avotri-Wuaku got a teaching position at NSU and has been an assistant professor in the Division of Social and Behavior Sciences ever since.

“I love it here. The class sizes are small and I get the chance to get to know all of my students and work one-on-one with them,” said Avotri-Wuaku.

Avotri-Wuaku teaches classes about social problems, sociology of deviant behavior, and medical sociology.

For students interested in studying sociology, Avotri-Wuaku hopes that they realize how much sociology really affects society and the way individuals make decisions.

“We are all social human beings. We all live in society, so the more you know about how society operates, the better professional you will be,” said Avotri-Wuaku.