There is a distinct difference to my life now and the life I had imagined for myself in college. My degree in Anthropology prepared me for long hours in museum labs, labeling artifacts, entering in countless artifact and lot numbers, and laying out floor flans for exhibits. None of this I actually ended up doing. My visions of myself in jeans, semi-casual shirts, and a lab coat pouring over books and articles, sipping massive amounts of coffee, and doing research just didn’t come true. My background knowledge of North American Indian tribes and the ability to differentiate between all the different projectile points drifted below everything else in my mind. All the hours spent digging up artifacts on the side of road, washing the dirt and sand off of artifacts, trying to identify what they were, and then using my steady hand to tirelessly label each individual shard fell to the way wayside.
You know what though? I’m completely okay with all. You know why? Because the passion that I have for all of that still rings true. The countless stories and experiences I gained from my undergrad and the journey to pursue my Smithsonian dream I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
Now I am pursuing my Master’s Degree in Geospatial Science. I spend long hours going cross-eyed at my computer trying to identify errors in programming, picking out topographical changes of DEM files, analyzing satellite imagery, and working out all the statistics until my brain explodes. This is what I ended up doing. My vision of myself has become suit jackets, high wasted skirts, blouses, and a CAC card holder around my neck as I fly through pages and pages of classified training documents, sipping massive amounts of coffee (well some things haven’t changed), and paving the way for my technical editing expertise to thrive. My knowledge of grammar, IT, GIS, security, and the classified space has come to the forefront over the 3 years I’ve been in this field. All the hours spent typing away at the computer, pouring over documents that I then have to decipher for readability, and using my pen to mark up endless course descriptions is floating up on the surface now.
The fact of the matter is these are just a couple of portions of my life: my work and my Grad School career. No matter what, would be happy with what path those aspects took because of all the other things that I have going on. My writing is a big part of that (beyond the technical writing I do for work that is). In the end so what if I didn’t/don’t end up using my undergrad degree? My passion for anthropology and culture still goes on even though I chose (in my mind) the more practical route for a career.
Samantha (Sam) Curtin is a Geospatial Information Science Graduate Student at University of Maryland and a Penn State Anthropology Alum. She has a passion for horror, dark fantasy, anthropology, technology, and religion. By day, Sam is a technical editor for the federal government. Her first books "Dark Cell," "Deal with the Devil," and "Summer's Hollow" are available on Amazon.com. All are published through her publishing company “Behind the Curtin Publications.”