While some alumni continue in the field, others are putting the skills they've acquired in the program to use in a variety of careers.
Anthropology, at its simplest, is the study of humans, their cultures and how they interact with the world. It’s not taught in many high schools, so students often discover the field when taking social science requirements as undergraduates. Some anthropology majors decide to continue in the field and pursue master’s or doctoral degrees.
Ariel Barrera ’20 focuses her research on early hominoids. She began working as an anthropology lab assistant as a first-year student, helping Associate Professor Brian Wygal, PhD, research and illustrate an article. She recently earned an MS in Human Skeletal Biology from New York University. This fall, she’ll begin her PhD studies as part of a joint program with the American Museum of Natural History Richard Gilder Graduate School (RGGS), the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center and the NYCEP (New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology).
Kyle Morrison ’15 similarly continued his anthropological studies beyond Adelphi. After heading to University College London to earn an MA in Public Archaeology, Morrison earned a spot as a doctoral candidate at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. His thesis examines what American conservatism means in the post-Trump era, especially to more moderate Republicans.
Other students find that anthropology can jump-start all kinds of careers. “Anthropology faculty members really do mean it when we say you can study almost anything from an anthropological perspective,” said Hanna Kim, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology. “And we welcome them to do so.”
These four alumni prove Dr. Kim’s point: From their beginnings in an archaeology class or a forensic anthropology lab, they have gone on to pursue other paths.
Allison Adler ’15: Helping Female Asylum Seekers
As a full-time social worker at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women’s Mental Health Shelter, Allison Adler ’15 relies on her anthropology skills every day. “Anthropology gave me the tools for understanding why my clients behave in certain ways and for finding solutions that fit with their cultures and beliefs,” she said.
Adler thanks the combined forces of Adelphi’s anthropology department and the Honors College for inspiring her professional and educational journey. By studying women’s cultural roles through anthropology, literature and other disciplines, Adler ultimately realized she needed to work closely on women’s issues.
After earning an MA in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and an MSW from Fordham University, Adler helped found Her Migrant Hub, a nonprofit platform that links female asylum seekers to health and mental health resources.
Vikram Bal ’18: Pursuing Social Work
Like Adler, Vikram Bal ’18 sees a direct connection between anthropology and social work. This fall they’ll begin the MSW program at Fordham University.
“I believe anthropology is an exploration of human behavior through a holistic lens and how various institutional powers may influence that behavior,” said Bal. “This is why it complements career paths in social justice and human rights.”
Bal said anthropology has influenced their professional work teaching English as a second language and their personal life. “As I encounter many different types of people, I’m able to listen from an open-minded and open-hearted perspective,” said Bal. “Rather than going with the instinct to immediately judge, I’m reminded of my education and am able to ask questions that allow me to explore the many layers of each person I meet.”
Alex Bautista ’17: Researching NPR Audiences
Alex Bautista ’17 currently works as a content and audience research analyst at National Public Radio (NPR), where he seeks to understand the needs of the racially and ethnically diverse audiences the organization serves. Previously, he worked as a research analyst for the Hallmark Channel.
“The anthropology department allowed me to gain experience presenting research in conference settings as a student.” This skill has served him well, whether he’s reporting on NPR’s social media metrics or the Hallmark Channel’s holiday performance.
Alyssa Booth ’20: Teaching English in Japan
“Anthropology is about how to understand the world around you when it isn’t your cultural background,” said Alyssa Booth ’20, who said she uses this skill as an English teacher in Hokkaido, Japan.
Booth was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship in Japanese in 2020, a program where Americans take immersive courses in languages deemed especially important by the U.S. government. However, she wasn’t able to complete the program due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Instead, she took a job teaching English in Hokkaido, Japan, once the borders opened to immerse herself in the Japanese language. Once she’s fluent, Booth hopes to pursue a higher degree in Japan.
She said writing a paper for an archaeology class taught by Dr. Wygal sparked her interest in Japanese history. “Without my experiences at Adelphi, I would never be living and working in Japan,” she said.