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Outstanding Student Awards, 2020-21

Outstanding Senior Anthropology Student and Outstanding Student in the General Anthropology Concentration: Katelyn Wietor.

Kate came to JMU with a range of experiences in the agricultural, food service, and hospitality industries. She is certified in organic farming, completed agricultural courses at Michigan State University, has Associate’s degrees in pastry arts and social science, and will complete her Bachelor’s degree in the general anthropology concentration at JMU this spring. Her instructors note that she is curious and intellectually mature, and that she always has something interesting and constructive to say in class. In the past year, Kate participated in the Southern Foodways Alliance oral history workshop series, obtained an internship with the US Forest Service, applied for a Fulbright grant, and maintained an exceedingly high GPA. Kate’s instructors have been impressed by her keen interest in the uses of anthropological inquiry as well as the ethics of it. During her internship with the Forest Service, for example, she has advocated for the inclusion of Cherokee voices in a project on Cherokee place names and cosmology. Further, she has sought to teach herself GIS to better do the work, demonstrating the level of commitment that she puts into everything she does. Kate generously shares about her own varied experiences with her peers, so much so that during a recent career planning and grad school workshop, the students began to converse directly with her and asked for her contact info. Kate plans to pursue a PhD in environmental anthropology and has been studying Italian intensively with hopes of eventually doing fieldwork there. Her commitment to her studies is clearly evident in her response to my notification about these awards. She wrote: “In true anth-nerd fashion, I first saw this email while I was sitting on the floor in the stacks amid a pile of freshly pulled ecology books.” Congratulations, Kate.


Outstanding Student in the Archaeology Concentration:  Lily Fischer.

Lily is a stellar student and an active participant in our archaeology program. She participated in Dr. Blanton’s summer archaeology field school in Georgia in 2019 and was selected to be the teaching assistant for that field school this year. Lily is completing her three-semester honor’s project on Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace titled “Undocumented Lives: Exploring Previously Unknown Occupations Predating the Presbyterian Manse in Staunton, VA.” She essentially led her own excavation this past summer and is a regular contributor in JMU’s archaeology lab. Lily is double majoring in philosophy and religion and pursuing a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies. She has repeatedly qualified for the President's List, which requires earning a GPA of 3.9 or above for the semester. This academic year Lily is serving as the president of the Epsilon of Virginia chapter of the Lambda Alpha national anthropology honor society. She also represented the anthropology program at JMU's virtual open house for prospective students in the fall. Her professors describe her work as exceptionally creative, sophisticated, and conscientious, while also noting that she is thoughtful and supportive of her peers in group work. Congratulations, Lily.


Outstanding Student in the Biological Anthropology Concentration:  Mackenzie Vogan.

Mackenzie’s professors describe her as intellectually curious and highlight how she regularly seeks out opportunities to further her academic skillset and interests in biological anthropology. She was awarded the 2020 Carl Harter scholarship in recognition of her contributions to the academic environment of the department. She also served as a teaching assistant for our introductory biological anthropology course, and is completing a medical humanities minor. Outside of JMU, she interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum studying vertebrate morphology, and served as a Research Fellow for the Organization of American States, where she was a contributing author on an extensive report about technological innovation among Jamaican youth. She was accepted for the Yale Foundations of Bioethics Program and JMU’s ecology and conservation program in Madagascar, though both of these were unfortunately postponed due to the pandemic. She will get to join the Yale program this summer. After graduation, Mackenzie will pursue a Master’s in Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration in Applied Epidemiology. She says she hopes to work closely with the graduate school’s Inclusive Excellence team and continue to combat racial disparities and inequalities across the sphere of public health, particularly during this pandemic. Congratulations, Mackenzie.


Oustanding Student in the Cultural Anthropology Concentration: Nicole Young

Nicole is an engaged and engaging student who is passionate about the subfield of cultural anthropology. She has excelled in her anthropology courses and was an active participant in JMU’s East Africa summer field school, an experience that she readily talks about with other students. She is currently completing an independent study this semester on African perceptions of anthropology as a discipline and completing a minor in African, African American, and Diaspora Studies. Nicole's contributions to our department and the anthropology program go beyond her class performance. She served as a teaching assistant for our introductory cultural anthropology course and assisted two of our faculty members when they served as book editors for the flagship journal American Anthropologist. During our job search last year, she participated in lunches with candidates and offered her feedback on them. In the fall of this year, she was a student representative for anthropology at the virtual open house for prospective students to JMU. Nicole goes out of her way to connect with faculty, especially on topics of environmental anthropology. Faculty note that she is a very bright, thoughtful, and caring individual, which is in addition to her strong academic merit. Congratulations, Nicole.

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