COD Students Selected to Present at National Anthropology Event

By Mike McKissack

Three College of DuPage students have been selected to present papers from their independent research projects at the 74th annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SFAA).

Jonathan Kaye, Karin Machalova and Elizabeth Nwokobia, each currently enrolled in the Business Anthropology certificate program, were selected by the SFAA to join other student and professional researchers from around the globe to present their findings at the society's annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from March 18 to 22.

Kaye, a resident of Lombard, said he views the honor of being selected as representing positive changes he has made in his life.

"I feel as though I have accomplished something that shows that I am making positive progress in becoming beneficial to the people around me," Kaye said.

Kaye plans to attend UIC next fall and eventually pursue graduate studies. He described his experience at College of DuPage, and particularly the instructors, as "truly empowering."

"COD has been a catalyst propelling me toward success," Kaye said. "My motivation, along with the opportunities to learn and grow that has provided me, has created an environment in which I won't fail."

Originally from Zlin in the Czech Republic, Machalova currently resides in Villa Park and plans to continue studying anthropology, eventually transferring to a four-year university. In addition to presenting her findings and the opportunity to view the many different projects from other participants, Machalova said she is also pleased with the practical experience provided by the meeting.

"My team and I worked really hard to put this project together and it paid off," Machalova said. "I feel excited to be able to have this kind of hands-on experience at a community college level and get a feel for what it is like to work in this field."

Machalova added that the experience has played an important role in helping her to find her career goals.

"This program has given me a sense of direction of where I want to go and what I want to do with my life," she said.  "It has allowed me to get real hands on experience and a feel of what it would really be like in this line of work. I can't imagine anything worse than spending all of my hard-earned money on an education toward a career path that I later found was not for me."

Nwokobia, who earned her Associate in Arts degree at College of DuPage, was recently accepted into the Land Economy program at Cambridge University in the U.K. She decided to enroll in the Business Anthropology Certificate program at College of DuPage while working to raise the funding necessary to attend school overseas. A resident of Bolingbrook, Nwokobia describes herself as "simply elated" about getting chosen to present her research at the SFAA annual meeting.

"I am really looking forward to having this experience and seeing how my research will be received," Nwokobia said. "I am excited to be able to put to use the skills I learned in my speech class."

Like Kaye and Machalova, Nwokobia also cited the excellence of the instructors at College of DuPage as one of the primary positive factors of the College, but added that the College overall has been "my oasis where I can come learn about the world and myself."

"I think COD has a remarkable education system," Nwokobia said. "It is designed to allow students to discover their wings, and for those who dare, to fly."

Anthropology Professor Dr. Derrick Willis said he is "very proud of the students for the way they represent COD and the way they embody the transformative nature of an education."

"Being accepted to present at a national professional conference is no small feat for a student at any stage in their academic endeavors," Willis said. "Doing so at a community college is a testimony to the caliber of students we work with at COD."

Willis added that through this experience, the students have exceeded his expectations and really come into their own.

"They are applying what they learn in the classroom by addressing contemporary problems in the real world using anthropological theories and methods," he said. "It is truly rewarding to see students that are really engaged in the learning process and who embody Gandhi's mantra to 'be the change you want to see in the world.'"

The SFAA is an organization dedicated to promoting the interdisciplinary scientific investigation of the principles controlling the relations between human beings and the encouragement of the wide application of these principles solve to practical problems. The theme of this year's annual meeting is "Destinations," and will include sessions and presentations representing all of the applied social sciences.

The Business Anthropology certificate program at College of DuPage is designed to prepare students to succeed in cross-cultural and international work environments. The 14-credit, four-class program covers a broad range of anthropological topics, including business anthropology and cultural anthropology, critical thinking and problem solving, and emphasizes a practical and interdisciplinary approach to anthropology with the purpose of attaining employment outside of an academic setting.