Where are they now?
Nasrin Mahani Award winner
Graduated in 2016
The summer after graduation, I worked at the Field Museum as a research intern for an ethnographic project "Cultivating Well-being: the Social and Ecological Effects of Urban Gardening" directed by Molly Doane and Alaka Wali. For the 2016-2017 school year I completed a Fulbright grant in Bahrain, working part time as an English teacher and as a researcher. Currently, I am enrolled as a Ph.D student in cultural and medical anthropology at Emory University, where I received a five-year fellowship to do research on mental illness and globalization in Arabian Gulf countries, i.e. Oman and Bahrain. I also received the NSF-GRFP in 2017 to support graduate work.
Graduated in 2010
I graduated from UIC with a BA in anthropology in 2010. In my senior year, I elected to take an independent study course under the guidance of Dr. Molly Doane to pursue a research interest that tied together many of the literacies I'd developed as an undergraduate student. This course resulted in a research paper that I submitted as a writing sample to graduate programs.
In 2013 I was accepted as a graduate student at California State University-East Bay. That same year I also began a Research Internship with Dr. Kelly Knight, a faculty member in the Medical Anthropology Department at the University of California San Francisco. Upon the completion of my Research Internship I was hired by Dr. Knight part time as her Research Assistant, and remained at UCSF in that role until I came to the San Francisco VA in 2015.
As a Qualitative Researcher in the VA with a Master's in Applied Anthropology, I work in an interdisciplinary team that works on regional and national research projects focused on issues related to access to mental health care among rural veterans, on integrative chronic pain management, and on patient and provider chronic pain education. Earlier in 2017 I was also invited to act as a professional mentor in Boise State University's Design Ethnography Certificate Program, and have enjoyed coming back to teaching in that capacity. Even though I did not go on to teach professionally and have worked almost entirely in research, the experience I gained as a Graduate Teaching Associate was invaluable to my professional development.
If I had to give any advice to undergraduate students in the Anthropology Department at UIC, I would say--keep showing up. Professional development in this discipline takes time (it's a long game), so take the time and make the effort to cultivate every relationship and to explore every opportunity, because you never know which new connection you made at a conference will send the right job announcement your way (this has actually happened to me), or which professor you often visited during office hours will write you that crucial letter of recommendation for a job or for graduate school (this has also actually happened to me). Lastly, remember that there are many opportunities for anthropologists beyond the academy. So, keep at it!
Graduated in 2009
I graduated from UIC’s Honor’s College in 2009, earning my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology summa cum laude and with Highest Honors from the Anthropology Department. While a student at UIC, I was awarded a scholarship for pre-law students and was chosen for induction into the nation’s oldest and most esteemed academic honor society—Phi Beta Kappa.
Following graduation from UIC I enrolled in law school, where I pursued a passion for legal advocacy engendered by the sociocultural anthropology classes I took while an undergraduate. I subsequently earned my Juris Doctorate magna cum laude, in 2012. During law school, my work in representing parents and children earned me several leadership roles—I was voted President of the Family Law Society; led the Immigration Law Society’s project to provide legal aid to immigrants in U.S. detention centers; and, was selected by faculty to be a mentor for law students representing parents in emotionally charged child-centered litigation at the law school’s Family Advocacy Clinic.
My work ethic and dedication also earned me important internships with judges across the nation. I won a prestigious internship with the U.S. Department of Justice, where I aided senior government attorneys and drafted decisions for the judges of the Executive Office of Immigration Review. I also interned with the judges of the Denver Juvenile Court and the family law division of the Circuit Court of Will County, Illinois.
Today, I am well-established and respected in my career practicing law full time in Chicago. Still, anthropology remains critically important to me personally and professionally—an anthropological perspective grounds my view both of the world and my cases. Further, as an attorney I rely every day upon modes of thought and methods of analysis acquired through the varied and challenging coursework of UIC’s Anthropology Department. Ultimately, I credit UIC’s Anthropology Department with giving me the foundation of intellectual rigor that I needed to succeed through law school and into my career as an attorney.