Anthropology club hosts guest speaker

Quinn Gannon, Opinion editor

On Oct. 28, 2020, the Mercyhurst Anthropology Club hosted guest speaker Alexander Anthony. Anthony, an Anthropology Ph.D. student at Syracuse University had an open discussion with the club via Zoom.

Mercyhurst Anthropology students had submitted questions to Anthony in advance, and he came prepared with answers for them. The attending students introduced themselves to him and were able to chat through Q&A format. Anthropology Club president and senior Sky Secord said the event was successful. “Alex Anthony was very honest and didn’t sugarcoat the difficulties that come with the physical and emotional aspects of the job, but I think it only encouraged people to pursue careers in anthropology and archaeology more,” Secord said.

Anthony earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Michigan State University in 2003 and then earned his Master’s in 2019. He has several published works and a lot of field experience. His research reports primarily come from Milwaukee, as does his master’s thesis, “Less Than Human: A Study of the Institutional Origins of the Medical Waste Re-covered at the Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery.” He has also worked as a teaching assistant at both the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Syracuse.

Anthony explained that he did not originally enter undergrad with the intention of doing anthropology, but took one class his freshman year and got hooked. He “accidentally” found his graduate school through doing fieldwork. Since anthropology has an end-less number of subfields to study, Anthony suggested students try out as much as they can until they find the topic that most interests them. He also gave advice, suggesting that students interested in the more hands-on field of archaeology get tangible experience after undergrad, rather than going straight to graduate school.

By listening to his experience in the field of anthropology, Mercyhurst students were able to gain insight into what their future may look like. He was able to prepare those in the Anthropology Club for the tiring difficulties of the job, while still maintaining a positive outlook to encourage students to continue on this path.

In normal, non-pandemic times, the Anthropology Club likes to host a variety of speakers throughout the year. Although this one was conducted via Zoom, club president Secord explained that it was nice to have a speaker to give students a sense of normalcy.

Secord thought Anthony was able to provide some valuable information to future anthropologists. Her perspective on graduate programs was changed by Anthony. “I learned that an important part of graduate school is less about the acclaim of the people you study under and more about the people you are with and the deeper social connections you make through work and life.”

The open discussion and advice from Anthony provided Mercyhurst Anthropology majors with information to help determine their future paths, while also providing a sense of regularity during these difficult times.