Centre students shine at undergraduate anthropology and sociology conference
Anthropology majors Zijun Deng ’18 and Mariama Minteh ’19 recently presented at the Anthropologists and Sociologists of Kentucky (ASK) Conference, an annual event that brings together undergraduates and professors from 22 colleges and universities in the Kentucky and Cincinnati area. The conference gives students the opportunity to share their research with professionals, receive feedback and learn more about their field of study.
Deng, who is from Dongguan, China, focused her project on the correlation between home relocation patterns and industry within the United States. She found that people are more likely to move for personal reasons, such as affordability or house size, than for a change in career.
Working to integrate the skills learned as an anthropology and mathematics double major for her study, Deng says, “I would like to think of it as an anthropological study of a statistics project.”
By concentrating her research on the experiences of first-generation students at Centre College, Minteh, who is from The Gambia, gathered qualitative data by interviewing recipients of Centre’s Grissom Scholarship, awarded to high-achieving first-generation college students.
Minteh argues that the term “first-generation” is often used to stereotype students, while in reality these students’ backgrounds and experiences are highly variable.
“Someone whose parents or guardians have a two-year college degree may have a different experience from someone whose parents have never sat in a classroom before,” she says.
Minteh continues, “I’m trying to break down the stereotype of who a first-gen is and showing how nuanced it can be.”
Before attending the conference, Deng and Minteh presented their research at Centre’s Research, Internships, and Creative Endeavors (RICE) Symposium. The symposium allowed the students to fine-tune their presentations before speaking in front of a larger group of people.
Associate Professor of Anthropology Robyn Cutright, who oversaw the students’ research, saw the ASK conference as a great opportunity to engage with the anthropologist community beyond Centre.
“The questions and comments they got from professors and students at other colleges introduced them to new perspectives that we don’t have on campus,” she says.
Cutright emphasizes class presentations as part of her curriculum, helping students develop the research and presentation skills that will be useful to them after graduation regardless of their career path.
“Presenting in front of other professors and people you’ve never seen before can be scary, but she definitely believed in us and encouraged us,” Minteh says.
In addition to Cutright’s assistance, Deng and Minteh credit Centre’s small class sizes with giving them the confidence to present their work in front of a large group of professionals. They believe that in-depth conversations with their classmates have helped them deepen their understanding of their own research.
“It’s a really supportive environment,” Deng says. “When I was giving my practice run for RICE, everyone was really nice and made me feel comfortable.”
Minteh adds, “Having that small, intimate discussion makes it really helpful when giving and receiving feedback.”
By Carbery Campbell ’19
April 26, 2018