Winter 2014 Alumni Updates

Dr. Ellen Elizabeth Foley graduated from MSU in 2002 with a PhD in Anthropology and African Studies. Following graduation, she conducted a post-doc at University of Pennsylvania. In 2009 she received a Fulbright to study HIV and sexual politics in Senegal. She is currently a tenured professor at Clark University in International Development and Social Change, and is currently conducting action-research in Worcester, MA on urban youth and gang violence prevention. Most recently, Dr. Foley published “Your Pocket is What Cures You: The Politics of Health in Senegal”, a book that focuses on the implementation of global health policies, and how these are entangled with social and political inequalities in Senegal.

Dr. Marcy Hessling O’Neil received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology in December 2012, and her dissertation focused on the role that higher education plays in family relationships among students at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin. She is teaching courses for the Peace and Justice Specialization at MSU and advises undergraduate students. Dr. O’Neil is the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation for the Youth Entrepreneurs Partners (YEP), which won the Fulbright Alumni Innovation Fund. This helps young entrepreneurs in Benin to create business plans that will be funded by YEP’s microfinance partners. In September 2013, Dr. O’Neil was invited to the UN General Assembly for two meetings related to the Millennium Development goals, and plans to return to Benin next year.

Dr. Michael French Smith graduated from MSU in 1970. Thanks to the advice and support of Dr. Bernard Gallin and Dr. Ralph Nicholas, he went on to do a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University of California. While there, he had the  good fortune to fall in with Dr. Theodore Schwartz, and was taken as his research assistant in 1973. Dr. Smith went back to Papua New Guinea in 1975-76 to do dissertation research and continued his work there after he received his degree in 1978. The result has been three books on cultural and economic change in Kragur Village. Recently, he gave an Anthropology Brown Bag on his book: “A Faraway, Familiar Place: An Anthropologist Returns to Papua New Guinea”.

Kimya Massey  is an alumni of the Anthropology program, and is currently the Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services at the University of Central Florida. Massey works with student-athletes to determine what academic resources they need to be successful, including tutoring, mentoring and academic advising. She learned many lessons from her Anthropology classes and that training has served her well. Understanding the culture, language and customs of coaches, administration, students and parents is critical to communicating effectively and motivating others to be successful. Massey credits her success and love of Anthropology to Dr. Norman Sauer, Dr. Bill Derman and Dr. Todd Fenton. She is proud of her MSU education, and welcomes current students interested in collegiate athletics to contact her.

Joseph Podrasky graduated from the Department of Anthropology in 2011 and spent a year and a half studying in Morocco and Egypt, where he earned another degree in Arabic from MSU. After that, he travelled to Washington, DC and worked for an NGO focused on fostering democratic transitions in the Middle East. He received a 2013 Fulbright research grant to Egypt to study Nationalism in Popular music in Alexandria. Unfortunately, due to security issues, the Fulbright was cancelled. Joseph is still insistent on finding work with business associations in the Middle East as a way to understand the nexus of business and politics in the region and go on to grad school in order to research the role of business in the politics of Middle East.

Rebecca Richart graduated from MSU in 2012 with B.A. degrees in Anthropology, History, and Spanish, and a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  After graduation, Rebecca served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for one year at the Backside Learning Center (BLC), which provides education, life skills development, and community activities for the equine workers of Churchill Downs. The Undergraduate Anthropology Club and mentoring from professors helped her grow intellectually, and her experience at BLC helped her explore her interests. In Fall 2013, Rebecca entered the Anthropology PhD program at the University of California, Irvine with numerous fellowships, and will study immigrant labor in the horse racing industry. Current undergraduates are welcome to contact her:

[These articles are featured in the Winter 2014 Department of Anthropology Newsletter]