Amanda Parker, a 2014 graduate, works as Membership and Activities Coordinator for the Quapaw Quarter Association. Key to success in her job is relationship building, whether those relationships are with donors, other organizations, or the people she serves, and she credits anthropology with teaching and facilitating this ability. She also learned how to look at a wide range of information that could be pertinent to a situation. For example, she realized there were many ways to build membership: talking to businesses, meeting with individual people, asking legislators to organize town hall meetings, culling lists of real estate agents, and more. Thinking through these various strategies helped her see new areas her organization could explore.
All those activities are also methods of data collection, which she also learned through her degree. Data collection is more than just looking at records or conducting surveys; it also means talking with people, interviewing, and listening to the thoughts and concerns of clients and stakeholders. She learned the ability to pause and sit with people, show respect, and better understand their point of view. That ability to listen and communicate is critical to any job.
Amanda has also applied anthropology in her work to move the focus beyond simply preserving buildings. “Preservation is not just about buildings; it is about communities and culture.” She is passionate about serving communities and preserving cultures, and determined to have her organization play a role in serving under-represented peoples and challenging problematic gentrification. To do so means reaching out to those people and attending to their voices and concerns.
Her advice to students: “Do an internship, read the books, and get involved with other anthropology students.” She also encourages students to think beyond working in remote places, digging, or collecting data. “How can you use what you are learning? How can you take anthropology into your every life?” Her anthropology background has enabled her to become an agent of change, and she encourages all students to do the same.