Where Our Grads Are Now
Since graduating from Guilford College and the SOAN department, I have taken an unexpected yet exciting route to where I am today. I was awarded a curatorial internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art where I supported research, writing, object handling, acquisitions and exhibit displays. I loved the work yet I still yearned for something less static and more creative. It was then that I discovered my interest in a program at the VCU Brandcenter. Part art school, part business-communications school and all about branding and advertising, this Master of Science program has pushed me in new and exciting ways. Here I am a daily consumer of culture. I look at how to understand society, culture and consumers in order to produce strategic and creative insights for building stronger brands. My studies in the SOAN department continue to inspire my interest in this field. A chance to work within this dynamic field is a chance to study a complex, amorphous entity with real societal impact. My SOAN studies provided me with specific knowledge, strong writing skills and a theoretical framework for understanding our relationships with society, culture, technology and each other. What the SOAN department may lack in size, it more than makes up for in vigor, depth and real life application. It was there that I found a place to further my interests in how cultures and societies interact within our ever-changing environment.
I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in ‘Advanced Studies of Social and Cultural Anthropology’ at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. Coming from a SOAN major at Guilford, I learned the importance of constantly questioning our realities and the value of conducting original research. The SOAN department at Guilford understands that theory has to be combined with practice. From the introductory level, theory is applied through social experiments on and off campus. I was able to conduct in-depth interviews based on my own research and later interned at Greensboro Lutheran Family Services. For many students, the master’s program was their first introduction to doing original research and ethnographies. I feel that my Guilford background has given me a unique edge in what is an often a challenging academic atmosphere.
When I graduated in May 2011 I wanted to work in immigration. To explore angles of immigration I worked with Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, mostly engaging with recently naturalized citizens and dedicating most of my time to research to inform political strategy. I also worked with The New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, a more grassroots, multifaith, multicultural organization. To explore the usefulness of law school I worked on legal intake with the American Civil Liberties Union, listening to and documenting the stories of people who called seeking assistance, summarizing their complaints and making a recommendation to the ACLU about follow-up. Over the summer I took a break from this type of office work to feed my artistic side and my love of working with young people. I worked with Yes! And… Collaborative Theater Arts where I assisted two groups of middle schoolers in creating and performing original pieces of theater. At the end of August I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to participate in the founding class of Quaker Voluntary Service. Here in Atlanta I’m living in intentional community and working at CDF: A Collective Action Initiative in a neighborhood that feels tension around immigration. In my work with CDF, I co-facilitate a weekend long Community Transformation Training and coordinate a week long Community Academy. I work as a part of a community engagement team, and am honored to work alongside residents of Clarkston, Georgia. My entire Guilford experience helped me take this direction, and the tools and vocabulary I learned in the SOAN department have been incredibly valuable.
I first traveled to Israel/Palestine with Friends Center Director Max Carter in the summer of 2009. This initial venture into the complexities and pervasiveness of the Israeli occupation inspired me to apply my training in anthropology from Guilford College to understanding the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict. After graduating from Guilford, I participated in an internship in historical and archaeological conservation with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Based in an Arab-Israeli town in northern Israel, I worked with IAA conservation architects to document and conserve the Ottoman buildings found throughout the city. I returned to the United States eager to gain as much experience as possible in museum and conservation practices, interning with a wide range of institutions: the Framingham History Center, the Armenian Library and Museum of America, and Manzanar National Historic Site. These experiences helped me realize that I was not interested in becoming a conservator; I was more interested in studying conservators and conservation practices. I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of New Mexico as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, where I study the politics of heritage conservation in Israel/Palestine. The faculty support as well as the academic and service learning opportunities offered by Guilford College and the SOAN department have prepared me well for the rigors of graduate studies, instilling in me a sensitivity to the dynamics of knowledge and power in a politically contentious field site.