The Department of Anthropology has welcomed two wonderful new staff to our community in the last year: academic counselor Morgan Hale, and program assistant Sasha Duttchoudhary. Both of them are 2013 graduates of UW, Morgan with a BA in Anthropology and Sasha with a BA in English. We asked them each to tell us about their journey here and the work they do. Here they are, in their own words:
What was your route to UW and to this position?
My route was actually pretty circuitous. I went to Eastern Washington University straight out of high school, majoring in theatre. But my reasons for being there weren’t clear, and my family needed me for other things, so I dropped out. It wasn't until years later, when my wife finished grad school, that I realized I wanted to go back. I started up again at Tacoma Community College, earned my Associates degree, and transferred to the UW. I decided on anthropology because it had long been an interest of mine, but it had never really occurred to me that I could actually do it. After I graduated, I took some time off to be with my new born son, Griffin (he was born my second-to-last quarter of school, when I was taking 18 credits, but that’s its own story!). We soon moved to Alaska, where my wife is from, and I was a stay-at-home dad. I came to this position when I started looking for work again and was hoping to use my degree. I saw that the anthropology department was hiring, and—a few months and a few interviews later—I found myself moving back down to Washington to start working.
And what does your work entail?
My job is, basically, to help students with any issues that they have come up. Whether it’s figuring out credits or which courses they need to graduate or even just talking about what’s going on in their lives. I spend a fair amount of time trying to help students de-stress and convincing them that they’re not actually behind. Almost every student I speak to thinks that they’re way behind; hardly any of them are. I do some outreach, trying to get more people into the department and speaking with prospective students. I also have been helping with some of the language for the new anthro website.
What about your job do you find most interesting/rewarding/educational?
I love hearing about students’ projects. It helps that I have an anthropology background, so when they come in and tell me about their research or their study abroad or their Honors projects, I always find it fascinating. I also like actually being able to help people and feeling like I’m uniquely suited to this job. I’ve held so many jobs before where it could have been literally anybody in my position. Here, I’ve actually received e-mails from students thanking me for things that I said or did that helped them, and you can’t help but feel good after that.
What other interests do you have?
Lots of reading and writing. I’ve written two fantasy novels and a number of short stories, though I’m not yet published. I also do some blogging and web building; https://fictional-history.com/ is my creation. I still act occasionally; in the last show I did, I played Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. I’m also a brown belt in Gōjū-ryū Karate. However, both of those have taken a backseat in recent years; most of my free time now is spent with my three-year-old son.
What was your route to this position?
I’ve always worked in educational institutions. My first job out of school was as an English tutor at South Seattle College’s AANAPISI Center, a federally funded program for higher education institutions with large populations of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Coincidentally, my boss there was Rochelle Fonoti, a grad student in anthropology. Next I worked at Launch (formerly Community Day School Association), a before and after school, and preschool provider within Seattle Public Schools, where I was an HR and Finance assistant, provided graphic design and marketing support, and stepped in as a teacher in the programs every now and then. I wanted to work at UW to return to a higher education environment.
What does your position entail, and what are your favorite parts of it?
I really enjoy being in a university environment, being among students and faculty. I see my job as enabling education and research primarily through providing administrative support to faculty. I am the connective tissue between faculty and the registrar/time schedule office, I help mediate the process of passing proposed courses and course changes through the curriculum channels on the college level, and I assist faculty to logistical issues related to their courses (room needs, add codes, desk copies, etc.). I also assist in processing reimbursement requests for travel and non-travel related expenses. It has been especially fun getting to know the faculty and grad students. Many of the sociocultural grad students and faculty do work on topics that I’m interested in, and that’s resulted in a lot of awesome conversations and connections. Academia is a really unique arena, and its been really interesting to learn about how it works; having been a student here as well it is curious to know multiple sides of the institution.
What are some of your other interests?
My last quarter at UW, I was part of a study abroad in Bangalore focused on social justice and NGO activism. During our post-trip seminar our class actually put together and published a book T.I.P.S. to Study Abroad. Between this amazing trip and the book, a lot shifted for me during my transition out of school. This experience really catalyzed my activism and writing interests from ideas to reality and really set the stage for what my life looks like now. I am a writer and graphic designer. Through a SAALT Young Leaders Institute fellowship I co-organized and contributed to Moving Truth(s). Most recently, I’ve been accepted into the VONA/Voices writing workshop. I also have a graphic design business that I started when I was in school, where I provide website, poster, and logo design for social justice organizations.
Two amazing journeys: past, present and no doubt future. Welcome!