Maria Marchenko, Anthropology

"I fell in love with AUCA when I visited it during the Open Doors event."

-Why AUCA? Why Anthropology?

I fell in love with AUCA when I visited it during the Open Doors event. I really liked the atmosphere in the university that day and remember being so impressed with the students and faculty. I decided to choose Anthropology because it was something that not everybody was interested in, but it really spoke to me when I heard the presentation.

-Tell us a little about your department and what makes it special?

Our department is the smallest, but also the closest. We know each other very well, and we all support each other in our academic pursuits. We are proud of our faculty, who receive grants and publish their scientific research. During my four years I discovered a lot of new things about different cultures and nations, and why and how societies change. Also I developed a lot personally through relationships with my professors and peers.

-Where do you want to work after graduation?

After graduation I want to get into an MA program in order to get a deeper understanding of cultural anthropology. If I do not get in right away I am planning to work in a research agency or an NGO. A lot of NGOs need specialists who can add cultural context to their projects.

-What career choices do Anthropology students have?

-We can work almost anywhere: social services, research, businesses, they all need people to help them understand the world around them. A lot of our graduates work on advocacy programs, conflict studies and human or minority rights. It really depends on the person, what he/she wants, and their goals for the future.

-Tell us, please, about your favorite courses from Anthropology department.

-It’s really hard to choose because I got great inspiration out of all of my courses. I really loved a couple of courses I took that dealt with religion and its history, especially in Central Asia, where we have had a mix of both Eastern and Western religions. I also enjoyed the research and methods course for anthropologists.

-Did you participate in summer schools or special programs abroad?

Well for anthropology we do not go to summer school, we do summer research outdoors. It is unforgettable! For example, with the help of my department and CASI, I went to Kazan and St. Petersburg to conduct research. I got to look at cultures and how they vary depending on their location, and I got to apply the theory I had been learning in class.

-But you also get to do some excavating, no?

-Yes, we have the best experiences! At the end of my freshman year, our group went to Issyk Kul to do an archaeological dig for artifacts. It was a real chance to “touch” history, and all of my friends were jealous after they found out what we were up to.

-Anthropology is a rare major, but you do not seem scared about your future career.

No, it did not scare me when I entered AUCA, and I am not scared now. There is a demand for talented anthropologists, because it is a rare specialization, and lots of organizations need them. Anthropology can really be used in every sphere of activity.

-What useful advice can you give to our prospective Anthropology students?

Do not be afraid of picking a major you like, just because your friends might be applying to more popular programs. You need to do what is right for yourself. Also, do not be shy in class, because you never know when your thoughts might have an impact.

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