Graduation Year: 2004
Why did you choose Anthropology?
I chose Anthropology because I enjoyed studying people and writing papers that integrated research and real life. I wanted to work in the non-profit or development world and thought that having a good grasp of people and culture was important.
Which courses made an impression on you?
Culture Theory changed the way I saw the world and challenged me to understand people and their contexts in an academic sense. My research class also gave me practical skills that are still useful to me today.
How did that affect your career choice?
My first job affected my career choice more than my classes. My classes shaped my thinking and provided me with skills, then I followed my interests (and the job market) to get my first job.
Which professors impacted you?
All of my sociology/anthropology professors impacted me, but I had most of my Anthropology classes with Dean Arnold and Brian Howell. They were excellent educators and mentors while I was in school and both have given me professional advice and assistance since I graduated. There were many reasons these two professors impacted me, but here are a few that stand out. Dr. Arnold was the first person to take the time to tell me I should go to graduate school (he was right!) and to get me thinking about my next steps. Dr. Howell helped me bridge between anthropology as an academic discipline and anthropology as something that you can use in your everyday life.
How and why did you choose to follow you path beyond graduation?
After I graduated, I looked for interesting jobs in the non-profit sector and I got a job at a non-profit food bank as the Youth Nutrition Program Coordinator. I used my major every day, working with ethnically diverse youth sites and developing new programs. This job piqued my interest in nutrition as I realized that nutrition and health played an important role on helping people escape poverty. I decided to go back to graduate school. I took physical science requisites for a few years, and my interest evolved further into public health and nutrition. I went on to get a master of science in public health, focusing on international health and I also became a registered dietitian nutritionist.
What are you doing now? What does that type of job look like?
I am the founder and CEO of Kids Eat in Color(r), a movement helping millions of parents and caregivers feed their kids better and have less stress in the process. I help busy families feed their kids veggies and give parents tips and professional support to help manage picky eating in their home.
Day-to-day I do many different things. I create free nutrition and feeding kids educational content for parents via her website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. I also offer a meal plan for busy families and I have a program for the families of picky eaters. I work with the evaluator of my programs and services for the purpose of publishing research, perform lots of human resources duties to keep my team going, and am always reading to deepen my expertise and gain new skills that I need.
As with every job I've had to date, I use my anthropology degree every day. It helps me think about what parents need and how I can create messages that speak to them in a way that resonates. I also use my anthropology training to work on cross-cultural projects and partnerships, and building a diverse team.
What advice could you give a potential major?
If you become an anthropology major, develop a 1-minute "elevator speech"/sales pitch for yourself and practice on as many people as you can. An anthropology major will make you stand out in a job interview, but only if you can articulate its value. I can't tell you how many people say, "...that sounds great. I thought anthropology was digging up bones."
My elevator speech/sales pitch is always tailored to the audience, but often goes something like this: "I have a bachelors in cultural anthropology. It is a great major and I use it every day! Cultural Anthropology is all about how people understand the world and learning to see from someone else's perspective. I can work with diverse groups and I have a strong customer focus. I know how to observe and ask questions, and develop creative solutions that are unique to my organization. [If there is time, I throw in a concrete example.]"
An anthropology major doesn't lay out a career path the same way some other degrees do. This is an asset, as long as you are the type of person who can pick up other skills along the way or you have plans for further education/training.
Finally, get to know your professors and keep in touch with them after you graduate. They are an invaluable resource.