How did you initially become interested in anthropology?
I went to college with the intention of having a career in Computer Information Science, but I registered for my classes late; the result was that I couldn’t get into a CIS class my first quarter. I reluctantly registered for an Anthropology class, thinking that I could at least fulfill a requirement. Of all the classes I took that first quarter it was Anthropology that had most held my attention, so I took another, and then another – I realized at some point that the discipline of Anthropology provided satisfying answers to questions that had been heretofore unanswerable in my Philosophy, History or Biology courses. Many disciplines address how the world works, but for me it was Anthropology that finally answered why.
Can you share a few of your insights regarding student success?
To be successful, students must make a personal investment in their courses; it has to be about something more than just fulfilling a requirement or a final grade, it has to be about their development into educated people. My focus in the classroom is on engaging students with questions that make Anthropology personal, and that encourage students to think through questions that are of interest to Anthropologists. As Anthropology teaches a way of looking at the world, rather than a specific set of skills, my goal is for every student to leave my course a better thinker; someone who can make a rational scientific argument, and apply this same kind of critical thinking to not only their academic work, but to any question that they might encounter.
What are some of your goals for this first year at WCC?
I want to make Anthropology at WCC a more prominent and visible part of the college by expanding our course offerings (we currently only have three Anthropology courses offered) and by developing opportunities for our students to become involved in hands-on work in my discipline. I am currently developing a Forensic Anthropology course for 2014, as well as working with faculty at both WCC and other colleges to include WCC students in fieldwork both in the United States and abroad.