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Alumni Spotlight: Clay Scott (SOCY ’15)

Posted by: tillilied | January 12, 2016 | No Comment |

What have you been doing since you graduated?
Since graduation in May 2015, I have been in the process of launching my own nonprofit organization, Anchor 180°. Anchor 180° is a nonprofit organization built around helping those who battle mental illness.  Our goal is to be a direct link to finding help by raising awareness, breaking the stigma, and providing resources and outreach.  So much in today’s generation is readily available online somewhere and easily accessible.  However, mental illness is stigmatized and we are told not to discuss it publicly.  Anchor 180° is breaking that normality and choosing to redefine what society perceives as ‘normal’ about mental health. Feel free to check out our website: www.anchor180.com for more information on what we do.

Scott, ClayWhat is your current position?
I am the owner/founder of Anchor 180°.

What advice would you offer to new students at the College of Charleston who are thinking of declaring a major in Sociology?
Sociology is a great gateway into the real world. Sociology teaches you necessary topics and ideas that will be applicable to any job you will have throughout your life. This major does not “slot” you for one career track, but rather is broad enough to provide knowledge to endless opportunities.

What advice would you offer to students graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in Sociology?
I would advise any graduating student to the same quote that got me to where I am today, only seven months after my own graduation: “Find what you love and let it kill you”. When you find a career path that jives with your passions, you will always feel the motivation and love for working. Too many young people in our generation, and younger, feel this sense of entitlement. However, the reality is that life doesn’t owe us anything. Get out there, find what you have a passion for (what you really care about and believe will make a difference in our world, and the go full force after it. If something slows you down, understand that it doesn’t mean that is the end of the road — It just means that you have to travel a road that is unpaved for a while.

What was your most memorable learning experience in Sociology?
Senior Seminar – This was a very interesting process for me as we learned about qualitative methods of research and autoethnography. I enjoyed meeting with each person for my interviews and really enjoyed the project as a whole as well.

What unexpected benefits have you derived from a degree in Sociology?
The biggest unexpected benefit from my degree actually has nothing to do with the education I obtained at the College of Charleston, but rather the networking. During my time at CofC, I was so consumed with the “schooling” side of the education that I was completely unaware of what was being constructed behind the scenes. I had no idea that each professor and classmate would later be where my networking began and that networking has led me further than I could have ever imagined.

What class did you most enjoy while earning your degree at the College of Charleston?
I really enjoyed Child Welfare and Abnormal Psychology (my minor was Psychology). I felt that those were the two classes that hit home for me and drove me toward finding what I wanted to do with my life.

What class was the most applicable to your everyday life now that you’ve graduated? 
There were several classes that I still use daily for Anchor 180°. Some of these are Cognitive Psychology, Child Welfare, and Abnormal Psychology, Sociology of the Family, Sociology of Peace, and Senior Seminar. I use the Psychology courses to understand people on an individual level. I use Child Welfare to understand the legal system in our society about children (minors – under age 18). I use Sociology of the Family to watch for trends among families and the way in which some mental illnesses impact each generation of a family. I use my experience with Senior Seminar to mold and construct each step of what I do with my company now. I mostly use this course experience to conduct my interviews for various roles regarding Anchor 180°.

What made you choose the College of Charleston over other schools?
I had always enjoyed the location and the city. I have family in Charleston, as well. I was accepted to every college/university that I had applied to but chose to come here because it was smaller and provided more of the opportunities that I desired for my life after college. If I could go back in time and do it all again, I would not change a single thing about being a Cougar!

under: Uncategorized

Why did you choose to attend the College of Charleston? 

The Sociology department has a lot of brilliant and dedicated professors, who often make themselves available to discuss topics further in detail, and that’s what I look for in a professor and have found time and time again at CofC.

What made you decide to be a sociology major?

It was when I first took a Cultural Anthropology course that I realized I wanted to address problems at the societal level, as opposed to the problems of an individual.

How does sociology fit into your life plan?

I’m attending graduate school after CofC and plan on pursuing a doctorate in Sociology. I know I’d like to end up teaching down the road, but I’d be happiest just doing research, and writing and speaking about my findings in the meantime.

What have you learned from your professors and/or other students?Platte, Al

The most important things I’ve learned while at the College are to always keep an open mind, question everything you know, question everything you’re being taught, and try to be fair when you’re debating something.

What was/is your favorite sociology class?

So far, my favorite course has been Dr. David Morris’ class on Social Inequality. It covers theories, explanations, and effects of inequality in contemporary American society. So if you like that sort of stuff, you should check it out.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

Dr. Donald Nielsen is my favorite for sure. He’s a super smart and funny guy, he’s always interested in the material he’s presenting, and he always offers new and interesting ways of looking at things.

Are you working on a Bachelor’s Essay? If so, what are you writing it on? 

I’m looking at the social conditions impacting cooperative and competitive behavior in human civilizations.

What are you plans for after graduation?

I’m thinking of moving back home to California for grad school, they have a lot of great Sociology programs out there… But a part of me just wants to wander around South America too.

Do you have advice for students deciding on a major?

Only the best advice ever- do what you love. If you’re not excited about what you’re studying, change it. I was a business major before I switched to psychology, then to sociology, and I love my major now and everything else I’ve learned along the way.

What is one surprising fact about you?

I’m in a Sociology club on campus that aims to improve the conditions of the Charleston community. Check out the College of Charleston Sociology Network on Facebook for more information.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The Galápagos Islands.

under: Student Spotlight

Meet Dr. Moore Quinn, Anthropology Professor

Posted by: tillilied | December 4, 2015 | No Comment |

How long have you been teaching at CofC?

Since August of 2001.

What were you doing before coming to CofC?

I was an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Director of Special Projects at Cultural Survival, Inc., which is also located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Where did you study and what inspired you to study Anthropology and become a professor?

A lifelong love of language inspired me to study Literature, then Folklore, then Anthropology. It took a while to “find my true love,” but once I did, I never looked back. My advanced degrees are in Celtic Languages and Literature (Harvard University) and Anthropology (Brandeis University).

IMG_0968What is your favorite class to teach?

They’re all my favorite!

What was your favorite class when you were in school?

Any classes taught by inspiring teachers were my favorites. I found that professors of Language, Literature, Folklore (especially Irish and Celtic Folklore) and History drew me in, like a moth to a flame.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Anthropology students?

Be willing to open your eyes, ears, and most of all, minds, to other peoples and cultures.

What do you like most about teaching?

My students inspire me every day.

What are you looking forward to this year at CofC?

Having just returned from a year’s sabbatical, I am enjoying settling in to my pedagogical routine again. I enjoy getting to know my new students and having them get to know me.

What do you like to do outside of teaching?

I love to write and research, and that’s how I spend a good deal of my spare time.

What is your favorite book or are you reading anything interesting?

At present, I am reading about the life and times of the playwright Eugene O’Neill, who wrote “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and many other prize-winning plays.

What is your favorite food?

My tastes are eclectic. I love healthy, well-prepared food. I gravitate towards the cuisines of India and the Mediterranean.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?

It would be an honor to dine with the Dalai Lama. I shook his hand once when he came to Brandeis University; I admire his ideas about compassion.

Where is your favorite place on earth- vacation spot, writing/reading corner, etc.?

I’m at home anywhere on the island of Ireland.

under: Faculty Spotlight

Meet Mary Stamato, Anthropology Major

Posted by: tillilied | December 1, 2015 | No Comment |

Why did you choose to attend the College of Charleston?

On a family trip to Charleston I stumbled upon the College of Charleston campus. All it took was one look and I knew this was it. It also doesn’t hurt to mention that I am also a native Marylander who was fleeing the cold!

What made you decide to be an anthropology major?

If you don’t believe in love at first sight I’ll bet you never took an anthropology class. I enrolled in an introductory class for anthropology my freshmen year and fell completely in love with everything about it. I was already a declared English major interested in education, so falling in love with another major was not something I anticipated or took lightly. I finally gave in and declared a second major in anthropology because it gave me the opportunity to understand different cultures, peoples, and myself. I thought developing a new world view might be just what I need to introduce positive change to current education systems.

How does anthropology fit into your life plan?Stamato, Mary_credit Dr. Devet

Anthropology made connections between all of my interests; it filled in the gaps. I knew I wanted to go on to work in the education field, but I wasn’t sure how. Anthropology has provided me with the skill set I need to conduct research that will explore current education systems and policies that address the issue of gaps in American education.

What have you learned from your professors?

A lot of wisdom resides in the anthropology/sociology department. I think one of the greatest things I have learned from my professors these past three years is that anthropology is ubiquitous. It isn’t something you practice strictly in the classroom or in a specific situation – it’s everywhere. That may seem like a very cheesy or obvious lesson to be learned, but it is something I think as students we often forget. Our work is important, our work is everywhere, and when you remember that it’s exhilarating.

What was/is your favorite anthropology class?

Previously, my favorite anthropology course was “Applied Anthropology” with Dr. Qirko. It was a great course that challenged students to look for problems within Charleston and how we could use our anthropological backgrounds to work towards solutions. “Popular Culture” with Dr. Roof however, has quickly moved into the number one slot.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

Well, my apologies to all the broken hearts that may ensue, but Dr. Qirko is my absolute favorite professor! Dr. Qirko, perhaps against his will, was/is my self-declared spirit guide through the anthropology department. He is always willing to answer my questions about the major and how I can become more involved in the department. His classes are always fun and interesting from the subjects we discuss to the many ‘sophisticated’ voices he employs to bring even the dullest materials to life.

Are you working on a Bachelor’s Essay? If so, what are you writing it on?

I am! I am working with Dr. Christine Finnan of the anthropology department on a Bachelor’s Essay that tracks public policy through rural public school systems. I am looking specifically at the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 in terms of variation of implementation techniques and methods across different rural schools. My Bachelor’s Essay is over the course of the year rather than semester, so there is still much to be done, but I am really excited to keep moving forward. Stay tuned for a riveting essay from yours truly this spring!

What are you plans for after graduation?

The question that has truly haunted my senior year! As of now, I am in the process of applying to law school in hopes of studying public policy and administration, and I think I’ll leave it at that!

Do you have advice for students deciding on a major?

Keep an open mind! Anthropology was not on my radar upon entering college. I was dead set on studying English in hopes of one day becoming a professor. I would have never found a major that completely reshaped my approach towards education if I did not allow myself to explore outside of the major or the plan I thought was set in stone for me. Take classes that interest you and never be afraid of deviating from the path you forged for yourself before – you are wiser and more experienced than when you first constructed that initial path.

What is your most challenging event at the College of Charleston?

I think that my current Bachelor’s Essay is my most challenging event. It requires a lot of self-discipline and dedication, and I had to scout out a lot of professors to find the perfect fit. More than that, it also is my first attempt at working on something that exemplifies the kind of work I hope to do in the future – it’s a terrifyingly beautiful experience to get the opportunity to do something like this in undergrad.

What is one surprising fact about you?

Like the Charles Darwin, I too have taken a ride on the back of a great tortoise (although, I was in a zoo not the Galapagos).

*Photo taken by Dr. Devet

under: Student Spotlight, Uncategorized

I decided to be a part of the Center for Civic Engagement’s Alternative Break because I felt a need to be more involved with the College and the greater community. Also, it just seemed fun to go somewhere I have never been before and do something productive over my fall break. This specific trip to Beaufort, SC intrigued me because we would be learning about the migrant farm workers, which honestly I did not know that much about. Our trip was not only about the migrant workers but also their children who are greatly affected by the work their parents do. For me, working with children is such a rewarding experience so that aspect of the trip really sold me, and I knew I had to become involved.Padilla, Ashley

Upon arriving in Beaufort we went bowling with some of the children. It was so fun because these kids do not always get the chance to just be kids, and it was great to see them all enjoying themselves so much. The next day we visited one of the camps (that is what the housing areas for the migrant workers are called) where many of the children live and we spent the day and evening hanging out and playing. We were also able to sit down with someone from the South Carolina Department of Education who works to create change for the children of migrant workers that are in the U.S. education system. These children are often unable to finish high school as they are continuously moving. The rest of our trip entailed going on tours of the different camps and learning firsthand about the many difficult issues migrants and their families endure while living there. But we also learned that it was not all bad. The workers often develop a deep sense of community by living and working together on the farms. And there are people in the community who work hard to provide services for them.

My favorite part of the trip, though, was on our last evening when we sat down with Angel, Violeta and their two daughters. Over dinner they shared their stories about coming to the U.S. for work but also about their hopes for the future. Violeta’s story really exemplified how resilient people who immigrate to this country are when they do not even know the language or anyone living here. Violeta came to the U.S. from Guatemala at a young age with no knowledge of either English or Spanish, having only spoken an indigenous Mayan language in her town. It is so remarkable to hear that someone who could not even communicate with those she worked with was capable of eventually learning two languages while working so hard to provide for her children. Even though she had to single-handedly support her four children on the little amount of money she made, she regarded living in the U.S. as a great freedom because she could do this for her children and for herself. Violeta has so many dreams for the future to help other women who are in need and she knows that her situation, although not horrible, will not last forever and her desire to help is so inspirational.

AB Fall Trip_2015The trip was all around a wonderful experience but some aspects were challenging because it can seem like our time there was in vain. My biggest challenge was the language barrier because I wish I were more capable of speaking Spanish with those so willing to speak with us. Their stories were so eye-opening, and I aspire to have the language to communicate my gratitude to them. There is also the added challenge of leaving Beaufort with so much information and feeling a sense of helplessness, which can be really overwhelming. To help with this I find myself just re-telling all the information I learned and the stories I heard. To me, it is a cathartic experience, and it is indirectly beneficial to the migrant workers in its own way.

As a Sociology major I believe we have an obligation to look at society with a fine eye but also to go beyond the society we are faced with every day. That is why the Alternative Break program can be so valuable to majors because it forces you to look outside the bubble that college often creates. The trips focus on a community in need and work to be as helpful as possible and to do little harm to those we are working with. Sociology entails looking at society and the systems that shape the way it works and participating in Alternative Break allows us to go beyond the theoretical of a classroom and requires us to put into practice what we have learned.

If you are interested in participating in an Alternative Break trip, check out the Center for Civic Engagement. Applications for the MLK Jr. Weekend trip, spring break and Maymester are due Monday, November 16th.

under: Student Spotlight

Meet Dr. Dee Dee Joyce, Anthropology Professor

Posted by: tillilied | November 9, 2015 | No Comment |

How long have you been teaching at CofC?Joyce_2

I have been teaching here for 27 years!

What were you doing before coming to CofC?

I taught for three years at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Where did you study and what inspired you to study anthropology and become a professor?

I received my B.A. in History from Catawba College. I then went on to get my M.A. in Anthropology from University of Arkansas and my PhD from SUNY-Binghamton.  I was inspired by my first introductory course in Anthropology and my first field school. I didn’t plan to become a professor—I thought I would be a field archaeologist and have my own archaeological contract firm. My first teaching job thirty years ago was meant to be a one year contract to fill in for a professor who was ill. But from that first experience I knew teaching was the right fit and have been doing it ever since!

Are you involved in any research at the moment?

Yes, I am interested in the how people maintain social space along race, class and ethnic lines when that social space is confined or limited. My approach is to investigate how social space was shared and/or divided in Charleston’s 19th century boarding house.

What is your favorite class to teach?

I love teaching Introduction to Anthropology.

What was your favorite class when you were in school?

Intro to Anthropology- because I got a taste of everything anthropology had to offer.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

I would say that is it important to not only perform well in your classes but also take advantage of all the extras like internships, study abroad, clubs, etc.

What do you like most about teaching and/or CofC?

The students! They are bright, inquisitive, well-mannered and a joy to be around.

What do you like to do outside of teaching? Any hobbies/interests?

I love outdoor activities– cycling, snorkeling, tennis, walking the streets of our beautiful historic city.

What is your favorite book or are you reading anything interesting?

I usually have several books going at once–most are anthropology-related but if I want to relax and put my brain on the shelf I read murder mysteries.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?

Barack Obama

Where is your favorite place on earth- vacation spot, writing/reading corner, etc.?

Anyplace with white sand, tropical waters and a barrier reef.

under: Faculty Spotlight

Mini Irish Film Series

Posted by: tillilied | November 5, 2015 | No Comment |

Thursday, November 5, 2015into the west this is my father

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For generations, The Irish Travelers have been the subject of poetry, song and story. Often depicted as the carefree people of the road who move from place to place in colorful caravans, they have also been misrepresented by those moving between the twin vices of prejudice and discrimination. This mini-film series explores these contradictions by screening two feature films, Mike Newell’s Into the West (2004) and Paul Quinn’s This is My Father (1998). Into the West (2004) juxtaposes the magic and dreams of childhood against the sinister world of adult greed and prevarication. This is My Father subtly examines the role of Travelers’ stories and predictions in shaping people’s understanding of why events unfold the way they do. Faculty discussion follows both films. All welcome!


under: Department Events

Meet Kelsey Fervier, Anthropology Major

Posted by: tillilied | November 2, 2015 | No Comment |

Why did you choose to attend the College of Charleston?Fervier, Kelsey

I chose to attend the College of Charleston for a variety of reasons. First of all, the city is absolutely gorgeous. You simply can’t beat the combination of natural beauty and the beauty and history of the city itself. I also chose to attend CofC because of the strong emphasis on liberal arts education. I knew going into college that I wanted a school that would push me out of my comfort zone and help me become a well-rounded student, which I believe a liberal arts education does well. In addition, both the excellent Honors College and Anthropology Department attracted me.

What made you decide to be an anthropology major?

I decided to be an anthropology major my sophomore year of high school after taking AP World History. I absolutely loved the class and approached my teacher that year about how I could possibly study all of these different cultures in college. He then pointed me towards the anthropology major, and I’ve been smitten ever since.

How does anthropology fit into your life plan?

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be a medical doctor. And while anthropology may seem a bit out of the ordinary for someone hoping to go to medical school, it actually fits perfectly with the idea of patient-centered care. I truly believe that in order to treat patients, one must understand them first. Anthropology has taught me how to be culturally competent and understand differing perspectives from cultures all across the globe. I believe that this will greatly influence and improve my ability to communicate with patients and understand medicine and healthcare from their perspective.

What have you learned from your professors?

I think the greatest lesson I have learned is the importance of patience and perseverance. Dr. Brad Huber and I have been working on the same research project for the past three years, and while to some that may seem tedious, it has taught me how to see things through to the end and the value in working towards long-term goals.

What was your favorite anthropology class?

That has to be Anthropological Theory with Dr. Hector Qirko. While sometimes the material was a little dry (He’ll be the first to tell you this!) he made the class an absolute blast. He is so funny and really stimulates interesting discussions in his classes. In addition, the class really helps you understand the history of anthropology and the reasoning behind why it was established.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

My favorite anthropology professor is Dr. Huber, though he has recently retired. He has been my mentor these past 3 years and has been such an incredible resource for me. I had the privilege of having him for Anthropology 101 and Cultural Anthropology as well as doing my independent study and Bachelor’s Essay with him. He has definitely given me amazing advice over the years and has been a constant source of support and encouragement to me. My college experience would have been totally different, and less enjoyable, without him in it!

What are you writing your Bachelor’s Essay on?

Dr. Huber and I are studying cross-cultural controls of male and female sexuality by analyzing five categories of sanctions used to control both premarital and extramarital sexual relations. We hypothesize that the severity of sanctions will increase with cultural complexity.

What are you plans for after graduation?

After graduation I will be joining the Teach for America South Carolina Corps teaching secondary science. I’m very excited about the experience, as educational inequity is something I’m very passionate about.

Do you have advice for students deciding on a major?

My advice is to choose something where you actually enjoy doing the homework. Anthropology homework has never seemed like “homework” because I have always enjoyed the readings so much. See if there is a type of article you typically gravitate towards when looking at a newspaper or an online magazine because that is probably what you should be majoring in. Find out what you love, or at least like, and go for it!

What is the most challenging event you faced at the College of Charleston?

I think the most challenging event I have faced has been running the student-run College of Charleston Fire and EMS Program. It has been a very intense leadership role that has taught me a lot about effective communication and how to manage emergency situations.

What is one surprising fact about you?

A surprising fact about me is that I run half marathons!


under: Student Spotlight

Incarceration Nation: U.S. Sentencing Policy and the “War on Drugs”

On November 4th, Jamie Fellner, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch, will speak at the College of Charleston about the necessity of reforming America’s sentencing policies for non-violent drug offenders.

Fellner has spent more than two decades using research and advocacy to press for criminal justice reform in the United States and is widely recognized as a national expert on U.S. criminal justice. Using a human rights framework, she has exposed many human rights abuses in US jails and prisons, including prolonged solitary confinement, the inadequate treatment of prisoners with mental illness, prison rape, the abusive use of force, inappropriate conditions of confinement for aging prisoners and the lack of compassionate release. She has also documented human rights abuses in pretrial practices and sentencing, including racial disparities in arrests and sentences for drug offenses, disproportionately severe sentences, unfair bail practices and coercive plea bargaining tactics by federal prosecutors.

Why You Should Care and Attend:

With 5% of the world’s population, the United States incarcerates 25% of the world’s prison population. This was not always the case. In 1980, the U.S. held a half million people behind bars (in state and federal prisons and local jails)—today, that number is 2.3 million. And, incarceration is not cheap, costing taxpayers between $60 and $65 billion each year to lock up millions of Americans.

The expanded prison population is due to numerous factors: mandatory minimum sentencing laws, an increased number of offenses that qualify for prison sentences (as opposed to community supervision), longer sentences coupled with fewer paroles and the “War on Drugs.”

Nearly 25% of those who are incarcerated in America are there for drug offenses, not violent offenses. And the burden of incarceration for drug offenses is not equally shared across the American population. Despite similar reported rates of drug use, African Americans and Hispanics are overrepresented among those who are incarcerated. These are typically the street-level dealers or repeat offenders caught in possession of drugs, not the drug kingpins and Cartel leaders.

American crime rates have declined over the last 20 years and many people assume that the expanded prison population is why we have seen what some call, “The Great American Crime Decline.” However, research suggests that incarcerating more people has only had a small impact (15-25%) on the falling crime rates such that mass incarceration is not an effective primary policy for dealing with crime.

Over the past 10 years, a movement has grown to challenge America’s policy of “mass incarceration.” Leading this effort are non-profit organizations like PEW, the VERA Institute, the Sentencing Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, the NAACP, ACLU and Human Rights Watch.

Fellner has been at the forefront of this movement and her visit to the College of Charleston comes at an important time as community groups and state leaders continue to work toward implementing criminal justice reform efforts. In her presentation, Fellner will speak about the evidence supporting sentencing reform and the political challenges of realizing criminal justice reform.

When and Where: Wednesday, November 4th at 6:00 p.m.

The College of Charleston, Stern Center Ballroom

This event is free and open to the public. If you have questions, please contact hoffmannh@cofc.edu.

under: Department Events

Meet Joe Powell, Class of 1991 (Anthropology)

Posted by: tillilied | October 22, 2015 | No Comment |

What have you been doing since you graduated?Powell, Joseph_2

Since graduating from the CofC in December of 1991, I have mainly pursued an academic career in anthropology and, more recently, geography. After graduation I worked at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C., for various archaeology CRM firms, as a teaching assistant in anthropology, sociology, and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and as an instructor of anthropology at several other universities. I earned an M.A. in anthropology, and a Ph.D. in anthropology and geography (a joint Ph.D. program) at Louisiana State University. For a short time I worked as a book acquisitions editor at two university presses acquiring in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, geography, and environmental studies. After returning to research and teaching, I have been busy teaching anthropology and geography, writing grants, scholarly articles, conference papers, and book reviews. Thus, in many ways I owe my entire academic career to my studies at the CofC sociology and anthropology department!

What is your current position?

I am an instructor of anthropology at Louisiana State University where I teach 200 undergraduate students in an intro to sociocultural anthropology. I am also in the academic job market looking for full-time tenure track positions.

What advice would you offer to new students at the College of Charleston who are thinking of declaring a major in Anthropology?

I believe that anthropology is an excellent major for the student who is curious about the diversity of the world’s cultures, our deep human past, and the human future. Anthropology bridges both the humanities and sciences so it is a broad-based platform for both understanding and explaining many concerns facing people today. These can range from religious and ideological conflict, warfare, peace-keeping, human uses of natural resources and impacts on the biophysical environment, religion and politics, family structure, and what has been called human-nature relationships. New topics of anthropological interest continually emerge in the news: new discoveries in human evolution, religious extremism, conflict over marriage and family, and so on. Anthropology is the study of “us”, after all, and since we have a natural curiosity to know more about ourselves, this makes for interesting and lively classes. There is no other discipline that puts humans front and center as the primary subject of study in the deep historical and broadly analytical way that anthropology does. The four traditional subfields of linguistics, physical anthropology, archaeology, and cultural anthropology allow a student to pursue specialized topics of their own interest while being informed of research in the other subfields. Thus, the anthropology student is well-equipped intellectually to think broadly and comparatively about the world and to understand and appreciate the logic of other ways of living and thinking. This intellectual preparation is a valuable asset for entering a range of career options, as well as being an informed and critically-thinking citizen.

What advice would you offer to students graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in Anthropology?

I would say to be prepared to adapt your studies to the job market in creative ways. For example, a technology firm may want to hire a person who knows how humans use technology and how they might better design technologies to suit human living in today’s world. Likewise, in the medical profession, a knowledge of human evolution, anatomy, diseases and how people across the world have dealt with disease and medicine on their own terms might be valuable to a career in social work, nursing, and being a physician. There are careers for which an anthropology student has a distinct advantage in news reporting, science writing, and public relations. In general, I would say that anthropology offers a solid foundation for entering the job market or for pursuing higher education in a range of fields from law, medicine, to university teaching and research. It is not the degree of anthropology that is important, so much as what the student has absorbed from the learning process, and his/her own creativity in applying anthropological knowledge to the many important issues of our time.

What was your most memorable learning experience in Anthropology?

At the CofC, my most memorable academic experience in anthropology was most certainly learning about ethnobotany and the coevolution of plants and people through many of Dr. Rashford’s classes. I had never thought about plants in this way before, or since, obviously! In fact, this sparked what has become a lifelong pursuit of mine leading eventually to my Ph.D. Outside the classroom, I would say my most memorable anthropological learning experience was working as a student archives assistant at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture on campus. I was among the first student staff members at the Avery, and through this job I learned about the African diaspora in South Carolina and worked extensively with Dr. Colin M. Turnbull who donated a large personal archival collection to the Center just as I started working there.

What unexpected benefits have you derived from a degree in Anthropology?

I would say the unexpected benefit I have derived is the many friendships I have made with people all over the world that I would not otherwise have made. Through fieldwork I have made life-long friends in Costa Rica, Portugal, Brazil, and parts of Africa. This includes colleagues, fellow students, families that have hosted me, and people I have interviewed and collaborated with in the field. I never imagined meeting such a diverse, interesting, and inspirational group of people. I’ve lived with small-scale farmers in Portugal, learned about plant breeding science, and got to share in the botanical knowledge and traditions of Afro-Costa Rican people. I have graduate student colleague friends who work in all parts of the world from Mozambique to the mountains of Peru, and who have become among the world’s experts in their chosen field. Every day I am amazed and humbled by the people I have met through anthropology. When I was an acquisitions editor I had the honor of meeting even more exceptional people writing books on topics about which I knew very little. So, I would say the many inspirational people I have met, and continue to meet, after many years is the most gratifying and important unexpected benefit of studying and working in anthropology. The degree opened the door to this fascinating world of people.

What class did you most enjoy while earning your degree at the College of Charleston?

Dr. Rashford’s anthropology of religion course, without a doubt!

What made you choose the College of Charleston over other schools?

I liked everything about the College from its stunning campus in one of America’s most beautiful and historic cities, to the exceptional quality of instruction and the very low student-to-faculty ratio. The College of Charleston truly offered an intense “private school” feel at a public university price. The classes were small, they were taught by tenure-track professors who are the top among their peers, and there was plenty of opportunity to work on campus in museums, archives, historical societies, and for the College itself in various departments. I found the highest levels of teaching I have ever experienced at the College of Charleston, and memories (and notes!) from those classes still inspire me as a teacher today. I never had a boring class, or heard an uninspired lecture at The College of Charleston. In sum, the College was a clear choice for me owing to a combination of exceptional teaching at a reasonable price situated in a beautiful historic city with many opportunities to gain hands-on experience.

under: Alumni Spotlight

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