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Meet Mallory McGoff, Anthropology Major

Posted by: tillilied | February 4, 2016 | No Comment |

Why did you choose to attend the College of Charleston?

I’ve been asked this question so many times over the past four years, but I have yet to come up with an answer that adequately qualifies my love for this place. I visited so many colleges and felt entirely underwhelmed until I visited the College of Charleston, to which, I might add, I had no intention of applying. It was different here—the people, the atmosphere—in a way I still can’t explain. I started my application the moment I got home.

What made you decide to be an anthropology major?

When I came to the College, I had long been broadly interested in people and culture, but never considered how these interests might be synthesized within a single academic pursuit. I took Dr. Burkett’s Intro to Sociology class as an elective my first semester and quickly knew I would be part of the department. I declared a major in anthropology before the end of the year!

McGoff, MalloryHow does anthropology fit into your life plan?

Anthropology is a path to developing a relevant and informed worldview and cultivating intercultural understanding: two concepts that are increasingly critical to our globalized lives. In this way, it is a fantastic background for a multitude of modern fields. Anthropology caters to my curiosity in diverse areas, which include language, world cultures, education, advocacy, international affairs, the arts, human performance, and the list goes on.

What have you learned from your professors and/or other students?

I learn that anthropology and sociology are more than academic endeavors; they are important approaches to innovation, policy, social reform, and global and personal relationships, and a way to advance tangible solutions for complex problems. Every anthropology or sociology major I meet has a distinct set of interests, goals, career plans, etc. This speaks not only to the diversity of the field itself but also to its pertinence across disciplines, its adaptability and absolute necessity. But all these people study people with intent; we study ourselves (humans) to of course understand and preserve ourselves, but also to make positive changes to the traditions, ideas, and institutions that we create and propagate. We study anthropology and sociology with purpose.

What is your favorite anthropology class?

Anthropological Thought, which surprised me, as I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the required class. I got the chance to pick the brains of the most influential anthropologists in our history, delve into the key tenants of the discipline, laugh at some of the more “antiquated” ethnographies, and a get a little metaphysical, which is always fun.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

I have enjoyed working with so many of our department’s wonderful faculty! But my favorite professor would have to be Dr. Qirko. Not only is he an excellent professor, but also an invested advisor. He consistently goes out of his way to support and encourage students in the department so likewise his guidance has been key to my success in my internship, bachelor’s essay, and beyond.

Are you working on a Bachelor’s Essay? If so, what are you writing it on?

I have the opportunity to take part in a major interdisciplinary research endeavor alongside faculty in the anthropology and education departments through the WINGS project. This study, ongoing for more than five years now, aims to evaluate the efficacy of the WINGS for Kids child development program in downtown Charleston. My small slice of the pie consists of collecting and analyzing interviews and other data pertaining to Spanish-speaking families involved in the study. I hope to gain an understanding of their experiences both in the school system and in the home.

What are you plans for after graduation?

I plan to continue my education in culture, language, and pedagogy by teaching in a Spanish-speaking country. I am working on applications for a variety of programs, including the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Program, the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Auxiliar Initiative, and Peace Corps. I look forward to things to come!

Do you have advice for students deciding on a major?

It is common to receive questions or criticism on your choice(s) in majors, especially if that choice doesn’t seem immediately lucrative or immediately applicable to a specific and highly visible career path. But the critics have little imagination. Anthropology has taught me that the paths are infinite and we make them up along the way. So pursue you interests—all of them! It’s an opportunity for innovation.

What is your most challenging event or greatest accomplishment at the College of Charleston?

One of the absolute best things I’ve done during my time at the College was study abroad. Through one of the College’s many programs, I spent a summer semester in a small town in Spain. There I cohabited with a Spanish family, studied in a converted 15th century monastery, and traveled the Iberian Peninsula. My experience not only greatly increased my confidence in the language and interest in the culture, but also inspired me to declare a major in Spanish, apply to the Global Scholars program, and serve as a peer teacher to other Spanish students at the College.

under: Student Spotlight

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