If you ask about Michelle Prizzi, chances are her peers will say she is the aspiring anthropologist and go-to person on the subject. A senior anthropology major, Prizzi said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the field since she was in high school.
In high school, Prizzi interned at Rutherford Hall, a cultural center and museum in Allamuchy, N.J. There, she handled old World War II letters from Irish writer Norah Hoult, who inspired her to pursue her major.
“I learned more about World War II reading her letters than I did in school,” Prizzi said. “Honestly, Norah Hoult changed my life and career.”
During her time at Seton Hall, Prizzi has been involved in numerous research projects and last year presented one of her projects to the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, a national conference held in New Orleans.
Now in her final semester at SHU, Prizzi describes her experience in the anthropology program pleasant and positive.
“I think this program is remarkable because you’re taught to think differently than a lot of other disciplines,” Prizzi said. “You’re first and foremost supposed to understand a culture through their own lens not the lens of your culture.”
The department has three full-time professors, Drs. Cherubim Quizon, Rhonda Quinn and Peter Savastano. Although the program is small compared to others, the benefits lie within the close educational relationship that can grow between the professor and student.
“The positives of studying in a small department are really twofold: you have the opportunity (to) work closely with your classmates and your professors and you have opportunities for research you wouldn’t at a large university,” Prizzi said.
Unlike other universities, the anthropology program at SHU is focused on immersing undergraduate students into the field early on by pairing them with full-time professors who help design and guide their path within the program.
“Former students who visit us consistently rave about all that they have learned in these focused reading and writing courses and the ways that it helped them get a job or find a research question to pursue in graduate school,” Quizon said.
Quizon has been teaching foundational and specialized courses in anthropology at SHU since 2003. According to Quizon, the strength of anthropology resides in the understanding of all humans, cross-culturally and over time.
After taking a human osteology course taught by Quinn last year, Kayleene Wopershall, a junior anthropology major, found the class not only fascinating, but it also peaked her interest in the specialized field of forensic anthropology.
“It’s taught me how to see the big picture instead of just a small part,” Wopershall said. “It’s helped me kind of like, put things together instead of just looking at little pieces.”
Next fall, students can look forward to Locus, a new undergraduate research journal set to launch by the College of Arts & Sciences.
According to Quizon, the journal provides a forum for student research as well as giving students opportunities to work with others within the university.
After graduation, Prizzi will be taking a gap year to work, then plans to go back to graduate school to study forensic anthropology and eventually, work for the government to identify victims and bodies.
Marianne-Grace Datu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.