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Sociology/Anthropology Spotlight

Hannah Weigle: A Passion Rooted in Childhood

Hannah Weigle“By studying anthropology I am constantly challenged to see the world with perspectives different than my own. This has been very influential in the different leadership positions I hold on Transylvania’s campus.”

As a youngster, Hannah Weigle ’13 would lead her brothers on archaeological expeditions in their suburban backyard. They were looking for animal bones and arrowheads, but their digs rarely turned up anything but rocks.

“One summer we had two major plots: one by our swing set and the other in the old garden area. By the time we had given up our search of artifacts, the largest hole in the garden plot was about three-and-a-half feet wide and three feet deep.”

It didn’t occur to Weigle that her summer pastime might point to a potential career path. At Transylvania, she initially assumed she was preparing for medical school.

However, after taking Cultural Anthropology to fulfill a general education requirement, Weigle knew she had found her passion. With inspiration and assistance from anthropology professor (now dean of students) Barbara LoMonaco, Weigle began to observe her familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. For various class projects, she created her own interpretive map of downtown Lexington. She met with members of a peace drumming circle that gathered at a local park to understand how different people connect to a city. And she interviewed a recent immigrant, identifying similarities between their personal stories.

Her sophomore year, Weigle enrolled in a field class with anthropology professor Chris Begley. That’s when she realized she still harbored a fascination for archaeology. “I loved being outside and pulling history out of the ground at Camp Nelson. Why didn’t I realize that I liked archaeology so much before?”

Two other opportunities helped focus her interests. She accepted an internship at the University of Kentucky’s William S. Webb Museum of Anthropology during winter term 2012. There she archived documents, catalogued artifacts, and processed collections. Then, in the summer of 2012, she volunteered at the site of an archeological dig at Fort Boonesborough State Park about 25 miles south of Lexington. Archaeologists working there are uncovering evidence relating to the Siege of 1778, a prolonged engagement that pitted a large party of French Canadians and Indians against settlers living in the stockaded fort.

Ft. Boonesborough dig

Photo courtesy of Charles Bertram, Lexington Herald-Leader (detail)

All of these experiences have helped Weigle prepare for life beyond Transylvania. They have also made her more effective in her job as the student personnel manager of the William T. Young Campus Center and in her role as vice president of chapter development for her sorority. As Weigle explains, “My anthropology classes have helped develop my empathetic interpersonal skills.”

Weigle’s family taught her “to value education, but more importantly, to love learning.” At Transylvania, she found a comfortable environment that freed her to pursue new disciplines and explore the wider world.

“I truly believe that studying anthropology fully encompasses the ideals of the liberal arts. For example, all the fields of anthropology rely on the ability to effectively communicate findings. These findings, especially in the case of archaeology, are founded in the empirical method. History also plays an important role in any research.

“Transylvania’s curriculum sets the bar above other schools, but it also inspires students to be well rounded.”

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