Tuesday, April 30, 2013
My name is Sarah V. Livengood and I am the current student representative for the Biological Anthropology Section (BAS) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). I am a doctoral student at the University of Arkansas. I earned my MA at Georgia State University and my BA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As a freshman I was lucky enough to attend the AAA conference with student government funding allocated to our anthropology club. The experience gave me the chance to see everything my discipline has to offer. It also provided me the opportunity to see what an academic conference actually is, and when it came time to present my research I was far less intimidated by the experience.
I did not attend the AAA meeting again until my first year as a graduate student. I became active in BAS accidently when I stumbled into the BAS board meeting. My advisor had encouraged me to attend the BAS business meeting, and I misread the program. My mistake became an opportunity when I was encouraged to throw my name in the hat for the student representative seat. Getting involved in the “business side of things” has been an eye-opening experience. Not only have I got to spend time with professional anthropologists that I admire, but I have also learned what keeps an association running, how they support their members, and the resources available to me as a student.
I have found there are benefits to getting involved as a student. The AAA as a whole offers countless opportunities for students to be active in a professional organization, and the boost to your CV isn’t too shabby. You can find ways to get involved through sections and committees, and there is even a student section (National Association of Student Anthropologists). Biological anthropology students can benefit from all of these opportunities and gain a supportive network within the AAA. The Biological section has a business meeting and reception every year, sponsors several poster and paper sessions, and has a student paper/poster competition that includes recognition at the business meeting, a monetary prize, and publication in the BAS section of Anthropology News.
One of the biggest issues I face as BAS student representative is encouraging student participation in AAA, and helping students realize that there is a place for them and their research at the AAA conference. The AAA has provided me with countless opportunities to further my career, and the chance to meet and work with people I might never meet otherwise. Attending any conference can be expensive, and I only made it to my first meeting with the support of my department and university. A lot of universities offer funding if you are presenting, but there are also options if you aren’t presenting. Your anthropology club is a great way to get a group of students together to help alleviate some of the costs through shared hotel rooms, transportation, etc. and a university sponsored organization can petition student governments to help fund educational trips. Also check out the variety of student awards offered by different sections of the AAA’s, some of these are travel related. And of course, contact your student representative if you have any questions!