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The AAA Leadership Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity for members early in their careers to learn about leadership within the Association. Fellows get an in-depth “behind the scenes” look at AAA’s governance system, discuss the range of opportunities for leadership service, and receive mentoring from Executive Board members on making room for AAA service along with their other professional commitments.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Asian American Studies, California State University, Fresno

My interest in anthropology started when I was eight years old and an avid PBS, WWE, and Star Trek watcher. These shows advocated diversity and showed a lot of interesting perspectives. Since I grew up in the Midwest in a Chinese restaurant and went to Catholic school, I knew I was different from the norm. These shows gave a positive voice to differences and that is I how I fell in love with anthropology.

Now I want to contribute to the AAA and my own anthropology and Asian American studies students. I want to contribute more in terms of publishing as well as advocacy for first generation college students, to be of use to the AAA organizing committees for national conferences, and to understand how I can contribute from where I am situated in California.

As a Leadership Fellow, I would like to learn different strategies to help first generation college students, especially anthropology majors. I would like to publicize to a broader audience all the ways that anthropology majors have found jobs.

Independent Research Consultant

I have a BA in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. Broadly, my research interests are in early childhood studies and policy; specifically, institutional power and individual agency through the frames of pediatric traumatic injury, child welfare systems, and (im)migrant health experiences.

I have been involved with several local community advisory boards and work-related groups where decision-making and leadership were part of my member role. However, since becoming self-employed, my involvement has decreased. The opportunity to apply as a Fellow arose, and I felt it was a great next step to become involved with my own professional space and grow from there.

As a Fellow, my hope is to bring my experiences as an applied/independent anthropologist to engage with current AAA leadership. Practicing without a doctorate, I have often felt external to the academy, and I hope to advocate for those who feel similarly disconnected from academia, their home institutions, or their professional networks.

I am a first-generation immigrant whose belonging has been questioned in many spaces. My wish is to advocate for new professionals, students, and individuals who may feel just the same.

Online Associate Faculty

As an adjunct without full-time employment at a university, I do not fall under a typical affiliation with one school. I am affiliated with Ashford University, Colorado Technical University, Southern New Hampshire University, and West Coast University.

One of my formative volunteer experiences was through the Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research. While animal research is a highly controversial and politicized issue, many inside this community feel strongly about the quality of life for research animals. For me, it was an opportunity to see from the inside, find the unexpected, learn, and, hopefully, meaningfully contribute. These types of experiences inspired me to apply for the Leadership Fellows program, which offers a chance, through personal encounters and opportunities, to learn, to contribute, and eventually to lead others onto a similar path.

As a Fellow I would like to draw attention to the issue of inaccessibility in academia. Anthropology is deeply important to many adjunct faculty members, and yet the ability to contribute is limited or simply out of reach, which has a direct impact on public understanding of the role anthropology has in people’s lives. We cannot adequately expand the experience and knowledge of our students, our communities, or the field in general if we cannot participate in field-specific research, collaboration, and growth.

I consider myself a non-traditional junior scholar. I received my doctorate at 44; achieving my educational goals has taken a few decades. I grew up in a fairly conservative Texas household. My father was a truck driver and my mother stayed at home until my sister and I started school. She worked as a “lunch lady” at our junior high school until she retired. I didn’t know what anthropology was until I started college. Thankfully, I happened across it and have never been able to shake loose from its intensely passionate grip!

Cite as: Banh, Jenny, Nazia Hussain, and Tracy L. Samperio. 2019. “2019 AAA Leadership Fellows.” Anthropology News website, September 23, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1267