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Why Anthropology

Quotes from our Alumni

I've been a teacher, a nonprofit administrator, a policy analyst and a grant maker, all focused on children, youth and families. I'm now working as a program officer at a corporate foundation in NYC. I was told upon graduation that Anthropology was a "non-viable major." At the time I was interviewing for teaching jobs in independent schools in the northeast. I was given the advice of describing my concrete skilled honed through my studies as an Anthro major - research, writing, interviewing, critical thinking, creative and multi-dimensional thinking, analyzing issues, topics, systems and behaviors to better understand situations and circumstances, etc. - rather than focusing on the content of my studies. In the years since, I've always said I became aware of these skills, and started to develop them, in my time as an Anthro major. I have relied on these skills in all of my professional positions. But also in my role as a mom, as a civically-engaged citizen, and more.

- Nicole Rodriguez Leach, 1997


 

I unquestionably believe my Anthropology degree… provides a lens with which to understand the world. Upon graduating, I taught English for a year in Macedonia on a Fulbright Scholarship. Navigating a classroom of diverse students in a country rife with ethnic hatred was a challenge, but my Anthropology courses helped inform me on how to steer my lectures in a productive direction. After my Fulbright I worked as an Assistant Editor at St. Martin's Press where I was a commercial fiction editor and assistant to the Editor-in-Chief who focused on nonfiction books. After three years, I decided to switch careers and am now back in school. I'm currently at Columbia University taking premed courses so I can apply to medical school. Anthropology will be a boon to my resume since it both sets me apart from other medical school candidates while also demonstrating my interest in people and cultures, an important part of a career as a doctor. The beautiful thing about Anthropology is it applies to any career—one can use it to analyze anything that involves culture, which is, as you know, everything. 

- Kate Ottaviano, 2009


 

I'm currently a principal of a charter school in Boston. My love of culture, history, social relationships, ethnography, research, and debate has helped me as a teacher, graduate student, and now school leader. I was a 2007 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans post Katrina, and I believe my anthropology background gave me a unique lens to observe the city as it was being rebuilt. Teaching in New Orleans post Katrina was the most challenging, yet the most fulfilling experience of my life to date. I believe my passion for social justice was ignited as an anthropology major, and it's helped me discover my life path.

- Katharine Needham, 2005


 

I think it might have been Akos Ostor's introduction to ethnographic film course in my freshman year, a study abroad program in my junior year, and a hands-on ethnographic methods course taught by Linc Keiser that kept me moored to the field of anthropology long after Wesleyan. During university, I did well, but I certainly wasn’t the greatest anthro student. I also had no aspirations to go to graduate school. Instead, right after I graduated in 1998, I was able to get a job at a tiny Japanese advertising and marketing company in NYC based on my skills in qualitative interviewing and then quit after 7 months. Advertising was not for me, perhaps because I spent too much time critiquing the advertisements in my head instead of actually working on them. I then moved on to one of the best jobs I ever had, working as a Program Assistant at the Social Science Research Council, helping to organize academic/policy workshops and conferences in South Asia and Southeast Asia. It involved a fair amount of international travel, where I met fantastic scholars and practitioners from all over the world who were committed to issues of social justice. That experience led me to think about graduate school in anthropology, and I ended up at CUNY Graduate Center, a department known for paying attention to pressing social issues and activism. After braving the job market (that’s another story), fast-forward to today, where I am an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Amsterdam. I truly love where I live and what I do – teaching, researching, and collaborating. Of course, this career trajectory involved doubts (there was a point in time where I was about to give up the PhD and take a job at a record shop), wondering how I could survive being an adjunct and studying at the same time, as well as a bit of luck. However, because I always learn something new every time I teach an anthro course or head into the field, it still feels fresh and relevant. 

- Tina Harris, 1998


 

After graduation, I took a year off, and then got my masters and Ph.D. at Kent State University in Biomedical sciences with a focus on Biological Anthropology. Given my exposure to evolutionary theory, hominid paleontology, and gross anatomy, I accepted a job in the Biology Department at Western New England University... I received tenure this year and am currently an associate professor.

- Burt Rosenman, 1995


 

I'm currently at NYU pursuing a Master's in Public Administration and a Master's in Jewish Studies. I am a member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a group that does organizing in solidarity with low-income communities and communities of color. I work on the Shalom Bayit campaign in support of domestic workers. While an anthropology major at Wesleyan, many of my papers focused on issues in domestic work. Being in the anthropology major also inspired me to work within my own community to make change, and I hope to work in a Jewish community organization or a synagogue after graduate school.

- Lizzie Busch, 2010


 

Choosing to study anthropology was the most important decision I made at Wesleyan. I was influenced daily by my experiences with the extraordinary professors and support staff who compose the department. Anthropology is where I learned the language and the foundational concepts to articulate my views and questions about the world. Studying anthropology developed my intellect and my values, which helped clarify what I want to do and more critically, how I do it. I currently work at the Orleans Public Defender’s office in New Orleans, serving clients – individuals who have been arrested but are unable to afford an attorney – with advocacy ranging from medical treatment in jail to release from pre-trial incarceration to obtaining credit for jail time they have already served to put towards a longer sentence.

Anthropology taught me about the complicated power dynamics involved in social justice work. I chose work that allowed me to leverage my access to power in the service of and in response to clients’ request for assistance. The importance of not “assuming solidarity” is a concept from class I apply daily, especially given the differences between me and clients - mostly poor, low-income, black men. Anthropology prepared me to work in the criminal justice system in that I am able to recognize how bureaucracies, states, and institutions aim to control clients’ behavior through mechanisms of state surveillance. 

Anthropology also equipped me with the methodology to understand macro themes on micro scales. I connect clients’ small life moments to broader contexts: for example, changes in welfare policies in the 90’s or the way that capitalism during Hurricane Katrina impacted the conditions of the post-disaster experience. Finally, working in a system that creates violence with no clear end, I frequently return to a tactic of “bearing witness” which I derived from the anthropological methods of participant-observation. That is, in some moments the act of creating space for clients to tell me their own versions of their own lives may be the only option for maintaining dignity. But studying anthropology has also made me aware that recognizing another person as the subject of her/his own narrative is an immensely powerful act that must begin any meaningful change.

- Melody Chang, 2012


 

It's been 13 years now since I graduated from Wesleyan, and I have spent 10 of those years working with non-profits and for-profit social enterprises. I started out working in full-time positions that were broadly research-oriented, and then in 2010 decided to start my own consulting business through which I provide independent evaluations. As evaluations are a subset of social science research, I don't think I would have been doing the work that I am now if I didn't have a degree in anthropology or a related discipline. I tend to use mixed methods in the evaluations that I conduct. While quantitative methods do play a perhaps disproportionate role in the evaluations that I'm currently involved in (due to the current discourse in this field), I am also experimenting with other methods such as diaries that draw from an anthropological tradition. However, I am increasingly realizing that unlike in other kinds of research, developing evaluation questions is not the first step in my engagement with clients. Instead, helping clients to articulate on and reflect on their program design, and the assumptions that they are making, are critical precursors to asking the right evaluation questions.  It is here that my background in anthropology is perhaps most relevant. Too often, development programs are still designed without really understanding what their target populations want, and involve making large, unsubstantiated assumptions about how they will behave. My role then is as much to advocate for a more participatory, consultative approach to program design as it is to conduct the evaluation. I think that my appreciation of the fact that a program may have multiple impacts other than what were intended (both positive and negative) comes from the anthropological training that I received.

At a personal level, I think that anthropology has helped me to identify, and recognize the importance of the collective dimensions of activities that are normally considered individualistic. I have a serious interest in poetry, and contrary to the stereotype I see the reading and writing process as one that has several collective elements. I take a bus 6 hours to a neighboring city once a month, because I have found a community of poets there who are invaluable to me in creating a space where we can read and comment on each others' work. 

- Devyani Srinivasan, 2001


 

I feel very lucky to be using anthropology in my career as a documentary filmmaker. Right after Wes, I worked at a documentary production company for a couple years. I missed anthropology, though, so I went back to get a Masters at the London School of Economics in Anthropology and International Development Studies. I was accepted into LSE's PhD program, and while I considered going, I ended up deciding to go back to filmmaking. Since then, I feel like I use my anthropology background everyday in the documentary projects I work on, from the film "Inequality for All," which is about the political economy of income inequality in the US (on which I worked as a producer), to a recent film I directed called "The Last Season," which was inspired by an anthropology lecture by Anna Tsing while I was in graduate school. I have found that the methodology of participant-observation lends itself extremely well to conducting research for documentary, especially as it emphasizes creating reciprocal, meaningful relationships with the people in the film, which ultimately yield better access to intimate and nuanced stories. 

- Sara Dosa, 2005


 

After getting my degree from Wes, I headed out to the San Francisco Bay Area where I spent a couple years figuring out exactly what to do. I ultimately decided to pursue a graduate degree in journalism, which I like to think of as "practical anthropology." I graduated from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in 2001 with a focus in radio, and I've been doing various multimedia journalistic projects ever since. Interestingly, it was a Wesleyan anthropology class that sparked my interest in radio. I was a slow note taker, so I decided to record an interview with my grandparents for an oral history project so I could focus on what they were saying instead of writing furiously the whole time. When I played the tape back later, I was deeply moved - hearing the sound of their voices tell their own story was so impactful, and really changed how I thought about storytelling and sharing information. I started listening to Dave Isay’s (founder of StoryCorps) work in grad school and I've been seeking out opportunities to use the oral history model in my work ever since. 

These days, I'm an instructor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I also consult on a number of multimedia projects: In addition to the Wesleyan Storytelling Project, I produced a series of mini-oral histories about women in science (Stories from the Field) and have reported on a number of different themes from science and technology to arts and culture, always focusing on the people behind the stories. I think the best journalists, especially radio journalists, can walk into a new situation, make themselves a part of the culture, and capture the most realistic portrayal possible of that community, school, lab, or household. These are skills I learned as an anthropology major at Wes, and they've served me well throughout my career.

- Mia Lobel, 1997


 It's hard for me to imagine my life had I not been an anthro major. It's been personally and intellectually meaningful because of the lens that it has provided me in my approach to life, which can mean finding the interesting routines in the banal, the ability to frame and pose the 'correct' questions in analyzing a situation, the ability to relate with others (which is helpful if you're doing direct service), and building research and writing skills (my last position involved writing grants) etc. The industry I've been pulled into - nonprofits - fits with the mindfulness and empathy you gain through fieldwork and anthropological reading. 

- Kapish Singla, 2011


 After graduating from Wesleyan in 2007, I spent about 8 months in rural Honduras with a non-profit organization teaching 4th grade. I then moved to Brooklyn and worked with a college prep program in Bronx public middle schools and then worked as a reproductive health educator for a community health organization in Harlem. Next, I went to Columbia University to get a degree in nursing, and now work as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a community health clinic in NYC. I split my time between a busy urban community health clinic and an adolescent clinic located in a high school. As a medical provider for traditionally underserved individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds, I feel that my anthropology training provided a backbone for my work as it is imperative that I am able to be empathetic and open-minded in order help my patients and to understand and meet their needs.

- Naomi Ray-Schoenfeld, 2007


Currently in the child welfare field as a foster care case planner, I practice my participant-observation skills every day. My specialty is people and navigating complex interpersonal dynamics while remaining neutral and calm. My role is to work with birth parents, foster parents, therapists, children and the legal system in order to address the issue that caused foster care intervention in the first place and to help create stability and permanency for the child in the process. I've also created movement workshops for birth parents and children to do together in order to help families bond and to ease the trauma of separation. Studying Anthropology at Wesleyan has given me the critical skills to see where there is need and the guts to fill that need. It's been very rewarding to implement the movement workshops and to see the program become a success. In the near future I plan to expand the workshops to other populations and to start a lifestyle-design company where I assist others in creating the best version of themselves. Anthropology has equipped me with the skills to engage one-on-one with all human beings, no matter what size, shape, color, background, or ethnicity, and to understand and appreciate the complexity of human emotions, thoughts, and needs. I take my ethnographer tool box with me everywhere I go, always eager to inspire mindfulness and courageous conversation.

- Miriam Kwietniewska, 2013


I use my anthropology degree everyday as an educator and rabbinical student. My training in understanding what culture is and how culture works has had a profound impact on the way that I study, practice, and teach Judaism. I use ideas about hegemony and cultural power to understand rabbinic literature, which is often written from the perspectives of communal elites who are also in relation to a dominant surrounding culture. I also use anthropological understandings of culture to take stock of the American Jewish community, find my place within it, and try to speak to my students’ social and cultural positions. And I use my understanding of cultural transmission and change to craft new rituals that speak simultaneously to cultural and individual authenticity.

- Joseph Gindi, 2003


I just started my career in TV/Media research, which combines two of my passions—media consumption and "people" research. I am an Analyst in the Ad Sales and Marketing Research and Strategy department for the NBC Sports Group. My team is responsible for all sports events/programming that air across all of NBC Universal's channels. Through ratings from various syndicated sites, my team tracks our own programming as well as the competitive networks. We also look at historical data to identify trends in program viewership. A lot of my work involves looking closely at data collected about viewers of various age ranges and interpreting information about media consumption and viewing behavior, where my anthropology skills come in handy. My department is all about storytelling and creating a narrative that compels decision making in the industry.

- Leana-Paulette Luna, 2009


While at Wes, I focused my coursework on media studies, but the grounding in classic ethnographic studies provided training in observation, perspective, and awareness. Now, as an audio mastering and restoration engineer and audio archivist at the Magic Shop in NYC, I use those skills - those sensitivities - to understand the context of the music I work on, to communicate with musicians and artists, and to be able to focus on both the big picture and the details. This last skill, especially, has been invaluable in my audio restoration work. I can listen to a collection of songs, then hone in on barely perceptible sonic anomalies and peculiarities. I can flip back and forth between those two perspectives, intuit how they interrelate, and use technological skills to repair damaged audio.

- Jessica Thompson, 1997


After graduating from Wesleyan, I worked for several years in the criminal justice policy field in law firms and at the Vera Institute in New York, providing administrative support, grant writing assistance, and program coordination. I then received an MS in Urban Policy Analysis from the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School in 2013. During my graduate program, I traveled to Hong Kong and the Philippines to intern with Open Door - a coalition of employers of domestic workers who support labor rights campaigns led by Filipina, Thai, and Indonesian domestic workers. In my role as a policy intern, I assisted Open Door leaders with research, strategic planning, community outreach, campaign coordination, and program design. I have assisted non-profit organizations and government agencies in Hong Kong, New York City, and Minneapolis as a policy consultant on a range of projects and issues- from education policy projects, to environmental research, to public safety program design. I currently work for the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families as a Policy Coordinator, where I undertake policy research and campaign formulation in the fields of child welfare and education in service of New York City’s Asian Pacific American communities.

Completing a degree in Anthropology at Wesleyan provided space for me to learn more about the many ways that power and privilege operate in society, and how those dynamics are culturally constructed. It allowed me to consider how cultural and historical factors contribute to our present realities. My anthropology degree from Wesleyan provided me with a critical lens and a grounding in social science theory that I use everyday when advocating for policy change in New York City.

- Sarah Fajardo, 2007

 

I am currently working at Panasonic Corporation in Japan, where I am in charge of marketing our LUMIX Digital Cameras for the Mediterranean regions of Europe. My job might seem unrelated to Anthropology, but I do get to use my anthropological knowledge in the process of new product development as we reflect the Southern European market trends in cameras.

- Taiki Sawabe, 2012


I have been teaching in the Boston Public Schools since graduating from Wesleyan in 2008, and almost every day I silently thank my Wes professors who provided the foundation for what I do with my students. Public education today is under the microscope, as it has been, almost without pause, since at least the nineteenth century. There are so many voices in the dominant discourse pushing the agendas of "twenty-first century skills," "zero tolerance" and the delightfully vague "critical thinking skills" that it can be hard to see what truly matters.

Majoring in Anthropology taught me to see human culture and human institutions as simultaneously simple and nuanced. My professors helped me see that our cultures and institutions are embedded in relationships of cause and effect yet not inevitable. They have helped me develop rigorous, thoughtful, contextual responses to questions like -- "Should Massachusetts increase the charter cap limit?"  And most of all, they have helped me teach my students how to develop rigorous, thoughtful, contextual arguments of their own.

David Foster Wallace begins his famous commencement speech at Kenyon College with this parable: There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?" My professors have taught me how to see the water, and for this I thank them.

- Aparna Lakshmi, 2008


 I currently live in Oakland and work as the director of a program for homeless families. Not anthropology, exactly, but not totally unrelated either. My interest in anthropology in college was driven, at least in part, by a feeling that the world was a deeply unfair place, and a desire to better understand how poverty and inequality impacted people's daily lives. When I graduated, I wanted to do work that made a difference but had little idea what that meant or what I would be happy doing day to day. The past ten years have been taken up in trying to figure that out, with time spent as a social worker, and then at a healthcare start-up, then in business school, and now finally as a nonprofit manager. The good news is that I feel like I have found my niche and plan to stay in this field for the long term.

- Beth Mitchell, 2005


 It makes me smile that my senior thesis, an ethnography about backpackers in Bolivia, continues to be downloaded on a regular basis and has been cited several time in relevant literature. My brain and current activities are definitely influenced by my undergrad anthropology background. I'm a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the Health Behavior & Health Education department. I'm part of an emerging group of interdisciplinary students and faculty who study sustainable food systems from various academic disciplines. I'm particularly interested in bringing together research and activism as I attempt to understand these complex issues on both local and global scales. 

- Lily Fink Shapiro, 2009


 I graduated with a BA in Anthropology in 1998 and for several years worked as a Program Officer at Common Counsel Foundation in Oakland, California, funding grassroots organizations working to build a voice and organize low income residents around a multitude of social, environmental, and economic justice issues across the Western States. I also led a city-wide campaign for tenant rights and affordable housing in Oakland, California. After receiving my Master in Public Policy Degree from UC Berkeley in 2006, I sharpened my focus on housing and community development issues; I joined the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and for the past 8 years have worked at the national level to develop policy initiatives to improve affordable housing opportunities for low income neighborhoods across the country. Today, I serve as the Field Office Director for HUD in our Portland, Oregon office. My job is to work with local community leaders and elected officials to find solutions to housing and community development issues and find ways to use federal resources to make change on the ground in local neighborhoods. 

My degree in Anthropology from Wesleyan provided me a great foundation for community development work. When I started out as a community organizer, Anthropology helped me identify and navigate local dynamics including historical factors, and race and gender issues, to successfully unite community organizations toward a common goal. Today, as a public official, I have the tools to work with an array of local organizations and understand how they are addressing issues of power and justice. Anthropology also provided a helpful foundation in linguistics, which is helpful to develop effective messages for community outreach.

- Margaret Salazar, 1998


 Upon graduating from Wesleyan, I embarked on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship that took me to Peru, South Africa, Senegal, Niger, and Turkey to study women's access to reproductive health services in various socio-cultural, religious, legal, and political climates. After returning to the United States, I worked as a case manager at a Latino social service agency in my hometown of Philadelphia, working with clients involved in the welfare system. I then went back to school and earned a master of public health degree at Johns Hopkins, with a concentration in women's and reproductive health. After graduating, I moved to Burkina Faso, where I worked as an assistant researcher at the Institut Supérieur des Sciences de la Population at the University of Ouagadougou, doing research on women's access to reproductive health services at the urban periphery. I have now returned to school once more, this time to pursue my doctorate at the Harvard School of Public Health, where I again focus my research on women's health broadly speaking, and access to safe abortion services and contraception specifically.

- Leigh Senderowicz, 2007


 I loved studying anthropology at Wesleyan. In particular, my thesis on the contemporary sexual abstinence movement and youth sexual culture in the U.S. turned out to be extremely relevant to the work I've done since college. I spent a year working at an HIV prevention and youth development organization followed by four years doing policy and advocacy work to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in communities and states across the country. I've recently returned to school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing to become a nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner. The knowledge and skills I gained through my anthropology studies are still central to my perspective on culture and context, meaning and resilience, especially as it relates to working for equity and justice in the U.S.

- Abby Rosenstein, 2009


 The Anthro major taught me to question everything about myself and the world around me and to think critically about power and injustice. After Wesleyan I worked as a Career Developer in a transitional housing program for Latina survivors of domestic violence. Since then I have been working as a paralegal in foreclosure defense at a civil legal services agency. I've been getting my MA at night and will be graduating from The New School with an MA in International Affairs, with a concentration in Governance and Rights. After I graduate I have a fellowship to be a teaching assistant and community leader on a Human Rights study abroad program in Nepal, Jordan, and Chile. I've also studied in South Africa and interned in Turkey as part of my MA program. It’s been a winding road, and I don't know what I'll ultimately do, but I've enjoyed the journey thus far.

- Jess French Smith, 2009


I graduated with a degree in Anthropology in 2006. The broad and dynamic foundation it provided for my career was extremely valuable. I pursued a Masters in Social Work directly after graduation, and my knowledge of diverse populations and social complexities informed my work on the masters level. Anthropology teaches critical thinking and reflection on social interaction, which have always served me well as a social worker. At Wesleyan, I wrote my senior thesis about the cross-section between Judaism and Deaf Culture, which set me on a track of continued research in the Deaf community. Currently, I am in the dissertation stage of a PhD in Social Work, researching employment issues encountered by Deaf adults.

I owe a lot to my liberal arts education at Wesleyan, and felt fortunate to benefit from the individualized attention and stimulating discourse that characterized the anthropology department.

- Hayley Stokar, 2006


 After graduating in 2001, and based in large part on the strength of Wesleyan's reputation, I was hired to teach high school History and Humanities at the Leysin American School in Switzerland. I worked there for two years, along with three other Wesleyan alums (biology, sociology and political science majors, if I remember correctly). From there I pursued an MPhil in Higher Education from the University of Oslo and a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Georgia and have worked in the area of higher education policy and workforce development in West Virginia for the last five years. To this day, I still think about reading the Political Systems of Highland Burma in Ethnographic Analysis with Lincoln Keiser and how it changed the way I thought about societal change. I was always fascinated by questions about why people do what they do, the role of social institutions in shaping individual behavior, and how and why societal norms, values and structure change over time. Studying anthropology at Wesleyan helped me better ask those questions, put me in conversation with others who had been asking those questions over the last hundred plus years, and provided me with analytical tools I could apply to the world outside of college. Those tools gave me a foundation for graduate study in policy and organizational theory and for a career in higher education policy and grant management. Having the anthropological lens has helped me think about the value structures beneath the organizations I work with and to, hopefully, make better policy and more effectively manage grants. I think the practical tools of anthropology—participant observation, interviewing, sense making, analytical thinking, understanding symbols, writing, etc.—are valuable in a wide variety of fields, but I have found them particularly useful in policy work, education, and academics. I have been very happy with my anthropology studies at Wesleyan and encourage others to pursue them.

- Patrick B. Crane, 2001


 I just started a new job working as a research assistant with an organization that is attached to Queens College in the CUNY system called the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment. Most of our projects are in the area of occupational health and safety. The project that I work on is a long-term medical study that looks at asthma and mental illness (primarily PTSD and depression) in World Trade Center response and recovery workers. I conduct extended in-person interviews with individuals on these topics and also assist in editing the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. This is a different type of research than what I was trained to do as an anthropology student, but I think that having conducted my own research projects that included one on one interviews definitely helped me to end up in this job.

As an undergraduate, the Anthropology major pushed me to conduct truly interdisciplinary research and to blend different modes of information collection, writing, and analysis. This flexibility has been a useful tool for me as I worked in different professional fields, including both law and medicine. Having been able to conduct thesis research without the strict boundaries that I imagine a different discipline might have imposed, I was able to explore a political issue through qualitative, archival, and natural science methods. Having since left academia, I am grateful that I studied in a discipline that provided for significant freedom and flexibility but also a solid training in methods. I am currently applying to urban/regional planning masters programs, where I hope to study environmental and land management. Ultimately I hope to work on issues of land rights, which were at the core of my senior thesis. As a final note, I still am fairly connected to the field site of my research in rural Montana. I spent the summer immediately after graduation there, where I lived with one of the people I had worked with during my research. I was able to talk about my thesis with some of the individuals I had written about and continued to follow events that I had written on.

- Katie McConnell, 2013


 

I'm an assistant professor of music at Georgetown. A double major at Wesleyan in anthropology and music set me up well for graduate school in ethnomusicology at UCLA. I finished there in 2010 and got this job. I will say that my studies in anthropology helped me tremendously with that component of studies in ethnomusicology. But it also helped me learn to think critically and write. Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir, but that perspective and skill set was a huge asset during my time in between undergraduate and graduate school. I worked at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago after a year on the Watson Fellowship. I taught performance and worked in the administration. Much of the cultural programming, community outreach, and collaboration ran against issues that I could think through because of perspectives I gleaned at Wesleyan. It's not that I knew the answers, but I felt like I could get to a meaningful dialogue and anticipate issues. I also think that anthropology was a good home base for being part of an intellectual community at Wesleyan. There was enough overlap with other programs and we had the advantage of owning ethnographic projects. By the end, I felt like my ideas mattered, that my ideas were connected to discussion and writing, and that I could accomplish a book-length work. Graduate school for me was like a trade school. Wesleyan had more of an impact of who I am.

- Benjamin J. Harbert, 1997


 I am the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at a school called Broome Street Academy in NY. BSA is a high school that serves at risk populations in the high school grades. Our students are in foster care, homeless, involved with child welfare, etc. Our goal is to get our students to a high school diploma and set up to be successful after high school. We are partnered with an agency called The Door that has been supporting NYC's young people with free services for 40 years. I helped start the school 4 years ago and we are now a full high school, grades 9-12. I oversee all instructional departments from mathematics to social studies (anthropology!) to biology. Before coming to BSA I was a special education teacher in grades 1- 6 for 5 years.

- Sara Ortiz, 2006


 After earning at BA in Anthropology from Wesleyan, I went on to earn a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthro from Duke. I returned to Wesleyan as a Visiting Assistant Professor for a year (2010-2011). Additionally, I was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University and held a fellowship in Anthropology at Rutgers. Currently I am the Associate Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, where I continue to do my research on gender and development and manage our journal, Scholar and Feminist Online. I am also working on a manuscript entitled Virgin Capital: Financial Services as Development in the US Virgin Islands which explores the way in which neoliberal initiatives that advocate the freeing of markets and purport to mark the way toward greater global integration build upon—and often lead to the entrenchment of—existing processes of racialization.

- Tami Navarro, 2003


 I am a School Improvement Leader with experience in school improvement, curriculum design, enhancing student achievement and using interpersonal relationships to improve schools and academic success. With over ten years of experience in education leadership, thirteen years teaching students of various abilities and learning styles and over twenty years of tutoring students of all ages, I am eager to improve schools and students through research-based tools and strategies. After Wesleyan, I received a Doctorate in Education Administration and Curriculum Development from Aspen University, Denver, CO. I used my Cultural Anthropology background when conducting qualitative research for my dissertation, Improving Graduation Rates in Black Males through Athletic Mentoring.

- Malaika Syphertt, 2000

 

 After Wesleyan, I received my Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 2002. I am Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. I am also a member of the Field in the Department of Anthropology, and am affiliated with Cornell’s Latino Studies and American Studies Programs. My research and teaching interests include popular youth culture; race, gender and consumption; urban anthropology; transnationalism and diaspora; and Caribbean migration. I am the author of She’s Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn (New York University Press, 2011), and co-editor of Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press, 2012). I have also conducted oral history research on art and culture in the Bronx with a focus on Bronx women’s contributions to hip hop music. Before joining Cornell, I was Director of American Studies and Research Director of the Bronx African American History Project at Fordham University.

Studying anthropology at Wesleyan inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology and become a professor. I worked very closely with my mentors, who taught me to how to deconstruct popular culture in ways that still shape my thinking today. The work I did as an undergraduate in Anthropology at Wesleyan not only informed my academic research but also positioned me to be able to comment as a public intellectual on topics related to social inequality and popular representation. 

I’m a big fan of Wes anthropology!

- Oneka LaBennett, 1994


I graduated in 1995 and earned a Masters of library science degree in 2000. I have been working as a health science librarian ever since. I am confident that my background in anthropology helps me professionally. More importantly, I feel that I am more informed about the world and better able to analyze and make decisions as a result of my training in anthropological methodology. Although I am definitely not going back to grad school at this point, over the years I have considered entering an anthropology PhD program and have absolutely no regrets about my major choice at Wesleyan.

- Hannah (Knott) Rogers, 1995


 I am a writer and storyboard artist for an animated show called "Regular Show" at Cartoon Network Studios, and I apply the anthropological skills of observation and analysis in this job.

- Melanie Lewis, 2000


I have made it my life's work documenting the beauty of the world, and throughout my travels the practice of participant observation has been fundamental to my process in approaching a potential photographic subject in a foreign setting. Often times, we use devices—such as the camera—to separate ourselves from the environment we find ourselves in and mediate the experience of an encounter, be it with a wild animal or a stranger in a foreign land. In the world of travel photography, there is, as is the case in many endeavors that take one to foreign lands, no substitute for integration into a community or for the knowledge of a local. These are the necessities of my work: without them, it would be very hard to produce work of acceptable quality. As it is my responsibility to represent what is in front of my lens faithfully and truthfully, it is crucial to understand the subject and setting to the fullest extent possible so as to not misrepresent it. This process demands constant compromise and adaptation on the behalf of the photographer and one learns to be comfortable in just about any situation that presents itself. Without the knowledge and skills gained during my studies in Anthropology, specifically social and cultural theory, at Wesleyan University, I would not have a solid foundation in the process I use to practice my craft and I would have approached many situations the wrong way and missed many opportunities which have yielded beautiful photographs.

- Yannick Bindert, 2012