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Students find opportunities abroad

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Brooke Grasso
LV Life Editor

Instead of using summer vacation as a break from school work, many students took the opportunity to go abroad and get hands-on experience applying what they have learned in their studies at University of La Verne.

Rachel McCrary, senior anthropology major, worked at a mortuary archaeology field school for three weeks in July, where they analyzed remains excavated from cemeteries.

“The one I worked with most of the time was a juvenile, they were between 6 and 12 years old and had a couple loose teeth,” McCrary said.

She excavated the “juvenile” from a 400-year-old burial site in the rural city of Drawsko, Poland. McCrary and her team worked on a 16-17th century cemetery, where her team began finding skeletons by their second week of digging.

“It was my first time ever working with real human remains,” McCrary said. “The sensitivity that you need when you handle them, the professionalism you need, and how much you can learn from these people, it was amazing to experience that.”

Senior anthropology major Billie Guerrero spent six weeks in Kenya inspecting animal bones to determine what climate they were adapted to. Her research could identify if the area was previously arid or if it was a wetland that is no longer there.

“I have research experience and I’m only an undergrad,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero is still working on her research and will present it in November at George Washington University.

As someone who grew up in the foster care system, fostered her two younger brothers and is a mother to two young girls, Guerrero is working to defy the low number of foster youth who attend college.

“The statistics are against us, but if I can show them that I am pushing and I am living my dream, they can do it too,” Guerrero said. “Despite our economic situation, despite our past, I’m doing what I can. And my daughters are really proud of me.”

Guerrero said that even though she did not have familial support, she was able to create a support system at La Verne through her advisers, including Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kanya Godde.

Guerrero and McCrary both said Godde was helpful in finding and applying for their field schools.

“It is something that is imperative to anthropology for students to go out and do the field schools because they can actually apply everything we teach them in the program here,” Godde said.

But anthropology students were not the only ones to spend time out of the country this summer. Senior education major Rebecca Segars taught a fifth grade class of 42 students in Kenya. As part of the Me to We Foundation she taught English and math among other subjects.

The bonds she created extended beyond the classroom with games during recess time.

Although she is home now, teachers back in Kenya have said the kids are asking about her.

Her opportunities did not stop when she left Kenya, and she was invited to teach in Ethiopia next summer.

“It totally blew my expectations out of the water, it felt like I built a whole new family there,” Segars said.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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