Christie Marquez is a current Masters student in Teachers College’s Department of International and Transcultural Education, studying Education and Anthropology. She is interested in the intersection of neuroscience and culture and plans to focus her Integrative Project (IP) on this topic.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you found yourself in anthropology?
In my undergrad, I majored in Neuroscience and English at UT Austin. I was thinking of going into something with International Education because for three summers in college, I taught English abroad in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Brazil. I didn’t have a specific path in mind, but knew I could explore my interests through a Master’s program in anthropology. Something based in international education and contexts. So, I looked up a bunch of programs and a lot of them were more International Education based, rather than Anthropology based. But then I was looking at the TC website because one of my professors at UT Austin recommended I apply to Columbia because she went here for undergrad and told me to go for it.
And then I was reading about ethnography and doing my own research and found anthropology very interesting. And of course, TC is one of the only places that has anthropology and education. And I think I was realizing that a lot of the international education programs are development and policy based and really emphasize people from the US going into communities in ways that they maybe shouldn’t. I think this program is more mindful about that kind of thing.
You did research for your IP last summer. Can you talk more about that research and your IP more generally?
Yeah! Because of COVID I didn’t do any in-person research but I did a lot of social media exploration and content analysis. My research is looking at a neuroscience research group in the US which specializes in multicultural approaches to Alzheimer’s Disease. One of their main focuses is doing research with the Latino community. Blacks and Latinos are 1.5 times more like to have Alzheimer’s than whites yet a lot of research and interventions and outreach focuses on whites. The research team does a bunch of outreach in their area like really cool health seminars once a month on Facebook Live. I was exploring those events and the comments people would leave on their posts. It’s important for neurohealth to learn new tasks so during the seminars they would have a painting class, a salsa dancing class, stuff like that, all in Spanish So, I want to know what multicultural means for this group because that can mean a variety of things.
I learned about these neuroscientists in undergrad, in one of my neuro classes. I found it really interesting so when I was thinking about what I was going to do for the IP I thought it would be perfect and niche enough that I could really dive into it with the project. And that’s really a pro of the program. People come from all different backgrounds and have really diverse interests, not just in classroom settings. So, you have a lot of freedom with what you want to do for your IP.
What are you thinking about for after your MA?
Well, I’m applying for a Fulbright in Colombia. If I’m accepted, I’ll be teaching English for a year there. And I’ve also had to propose a side project so I’m proposing health seminars for families. I would collaborate with any of my students who are interested to create health seminars on topics from sleep hygiene to stress management to present to families in the community.
I’m also in the process of becoming an accredited legal representative. The US government allows some non-profits to have sites with people who are legally accredited to practice some parts of immigration law as a low-cost alternative. So, I’ve done shadowing and course work for that so the goal is when I come back from Fulbright I would be working in that field. In particular, I’d being doing adjustment of status, green card and citizenship applications. Helping people through the immigration process. The hope is that the Fulbright will be a good place to explore more interests, build stronger spoke Spanish communication skills, and delve into meaningful activities with students and the community!
This is a silly question, but what was it like meeting all your zoom classmates and coming back to campus?
It was definitely strange! You see people and you’re like “Wow they’re a lot taller or shorter than I expected!” But it was also just nice to be able to speak about subjects that weren’t just class related. I feel like the whole year we would just see each other in the zoom classroom setting and even then there’s not a before and after class on zoom. You just enter, have class, and leave. So it was really cool to be able to talk and get to know people!
What have you liked about TC and the MA program so far?
My two favorite classes so were ITSF 4011 with Professor Tawasil, Cultural and Social Bases of Education and Language, Culture, and Politics with Professor Limerick. He organizes it so well and it was so eye opening. I also really loved the class discussions. With Professor Tawasil’s class, I feel like I really learned a lot of the groundwork that I’m bringing into how I approach anthropology and how I approach my IP. And I love the way she phrases things and her emphasis on the Boasian comparative approach. Through her, I best learned how to problematize and critically look at anthropological explorations.
I also love that we’re a small program and that it’s not competitive. It feels very supportive and collaborative based.
Do you have any advice for people who are applying or First years?
For Masters Students, definitely take the colloquium sequence. I think that was really good for me to get to know people and anthropology. You get to know the doctoral students and the professors very well because in the second semester the whole Anthropology and Education faulty teaches. And you get a strong theory foundation.
Another thing is to remember that you get out of the program what you put into it. Even when you have a lot readings, you should dedicate time to do them. But I do think you kind of have to build up it.
For applying students, they should reach out to current students and attend the information sessions! Also, remember that your interests can change over time so don’t be stressed out about including exactly what you want to do in your statement. That will come later. The important part is to include yourself in the application.
Anything else you want to add?
Oh yeah, I’ll give a plug for AEA! AEA (Association for Educational Anthropology) is a space for anthropology students. It’s going to be very practically focused this year. I’m one of the co-chairs along with Lizz and Ali and we’re planning on having writing workshops, bringing in speakers about writing your IRB, and providing support and a social network for students. Current students and prospective students should definitely reach out if they’re interested in participating!
If you’re interesting in learning more about Teachers College’s Programs in Anthropology, contact us by emailing email@example.com.