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Faces and Voices: interview with Caitlin Cole-Conroy

By Tamara Dixon

“Anthropology itself is just the umbrella that encompasses everything from burials to politics to everyday habits! There is so much you can do and many do not realize it.”
Caitlin Cole-Conroy
Anthropology Major

Why did you decide to major in anthropology?  Did any specific courses and/or professors influence your decision?

“I decided to major in anthropology because I felt that I should be in the field. I have always been interested in the science since I was young, so I'd like to think that I always knew what I wanted to do. However, I had a few doubts along the way, especially at my previous, and much smaller, college. What could I do with an anthropology degree? Who would hire me? Am I the only one at my small college this excited and interested in the field? I transferred to the University at Buffalo my sophomore year, and these thoughts would not go away. Then I began to talk to different anthropology professors at UB. Each professor expressed how interacting with different peoples, while trying to understand and learn both their culture and history, is unexpectedly rewarding. Hearing the professor's excitement out loud solidified that, yes, I could do this and I am definitely not the only one.”

What most interests you about anthropology?

“What is most interesting to me about anthropology is that I can be a part of all the different sub fields simultaneously. I can concentrate in cultural anthropology and be knowledgeable in physical anthropology as well. Anthropology itself is just the umbrella that encompasses everything from burials to politics to everyday habits! There is so much you can do and many do not realize it.”

Why did you choose to attend UB?

“I chose to attend UB because my family grew up in Buffalo. On my mother's side alone, my grandfather, aunt, uncles, and my sister all graduated from this university! I felt as though I was coming home. Even though the campus is huge and away from my own family, I felt that I had found my niche living on campus and being in the anthropology department.”

What experiences and opportunities did you have that will help you attain your future academic and career goals?  (field schools, internships, study abroad, independent/honors research, etc.) In what ways did these experiences help prepare you?

“I've only had a few opportunities, but each one has been significant. I have recently been accepted into a field school in Italy and over summers I work at my local museum. I am also in contact with different professors from around the world, discussing future jobs and graduate school. These experiences and opportunities have given me the chance to step out of my comfort zone and make connections with wonderful people who value my opinion. Not to mention that I also get to travel around the world!”

Did you participate in extracurricular activities (athletics, student government, student clubs, volunteer activities, etc.)?  How did your participation in such activities influence your undergraduate experience?

“I am currently the Vice President of the Anthropology Student Association club, I am a member of the honor society Sigma Alpha Pi, and I have been a member of the Model United Nations. By being a part of these clubs I have gained the experience to be a leader and to solve problems with critical thinking. However, I do enjoy and have fun in my extracurricular activities! I am friends with all my members and I know I have a support system wherever I am.”

Caitlin, do you have any final recommendations for future students interested in anthropology at UB?

“To the future students interested in anthropology: do not be afraid to reach out to others! The students and professors at UB will provide excellent answers to all your questions, not to mention they will also help you gain the experience you need to be comfortable with yourself and in your profession. You can also reach out to others outside anthropology! The beauty of anthropology is that it can be applied with any major. Finally, make use of your time. Be organized in your academics and make sure you have time for yourself. It is the ‘pursuit of happiness’, not ‘perpetual happiness!’ ”

 

Caitlin Cole-Conroy is an Undergraduate Anthropology Major