What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Ahhhh....... :) After five years, three applications, a whole host of struggles thoroughly documented on this blog, and a whole lot of work fostering relationships with faculty there, I have finally been accepted to Rutgers Anthropology program!  :)  I can not tell you how big of a deal this is to me.  As my mom said, the only other thing in my life that really compares is being offered a place on the West Virginia Football team when I was a senior in high school.  At that point in my life I had been working for all 17 of my years to make myself the best athlete I could.  It was my dream to play Division I football, and on a trip to Morgantown, WV the recruiting coordinator extended his hand and an offer to play for them.  They had finished third in the country that year, and I was going to be playing for them.  I'd worked so hard, endless days running, catching, pushing myself to physical exhaustion - fighting both to make myself better, and against all the people that said I'd never be able to to it.  But I did, I made it.  And while what I did with that opportunity involves a lot of youthful indecision, and adult regrets, I learned from it.  And now I will be going to "play" at one of WVU's former Big East rivals!

I wasn't expecting much more from Rutgers than I got last year when I was put on their waiting list again this year, but over the last week they'd sent me a few hints that I needed to still be patient.  I didn't want to think to much in to it and start hoping, but I did return to their website and reenvision myself there if even just to be able to compare with Binghamton.  I spent most of this week in Binghamton, and was going to be writing a blog post about that visit today, however that post has just been high-jacked by a phone call I got while nestled in the depths of 25 Central Park West's servants entrance to apartment 7Q.  I'd just rung the doorbell to the servants' entrance with no answer, the guy the takes you up the elevator and monitors that you don't go crazy or steal things, decided to try the front door just as my phone rang.  A 908 area code, Jersey!  It was not stored in my phone.  Immediately I thought of Rutgers and said F-it, I've gotta take this.  I answered and it was the director of graduate studies.  Immediately I thought, there's NO way he'd be making a personal call to me to say I did NOT get accepted!!  He then said, "I'm not sure if you've read your emails" (I said I hadn't), but I wanted to give you an actual phone call to offer you a position in our program, with funding."  I can't even explain the emotions I felt, the senses, the moment, it all went hazy, emotional, exuberant.  I couldn't express to him enough how great it was to hear this!  I quickly had to tell him though that I was at work and couldn't talk, but said I would check my email and try to get back to him if I got a chance while at work!  

The funny thing though, was that I didn't say yes on the spot.  I knew better given past mistakes, like the decisions I made involving leaving football at WVU. Thus I now always sleep on any decision of consequence.  Also, one of the first things that ran through my head was Binghamton.  I had just spent two full days attending classes, meeting professor, and feeling comfortable with a future there.  They have such great people.  The students, the faculty, the administrators.  I really enjoyed my time there, and know there are a lot of things that I could do there, even things I couldn't do at Rutgers.  A radical department for a radical scholar such as myself!  But my emotions and innate reaction to this news from Rutgers didn't allow for a decision, wei wu, action without action.  My body, mind, and soul knew right then and there were I was going to school.  I don't know how I am going to tell the people at Binghamton.  But I told them this may be the decision I had to make and that it would be tough to turn down a top ten Anthropology program.  But it is not just that.  The offer comes with four years of funding.  The first year in the form of a fellowship for $22,000, and the next three as a Teaching Assistant fro $26,000 per year. There is a full tuition remission and healthcare throughout.  While the cost of living is less in Binghamton, their three years at $15,000 per and a tuition remission, is still less, nevermind that I'd then have to pay for healthcare there.  But all told, its a no-brainer, and the people I met there, that either were honest about the two options or were in Anthropology and knew what Rutgers had to offer, thought I'd be crazy to even consider it!  But to me, I think the main difference is the organization and faculty mentoring at Rutgers.  Binghamton is largely self directed (a big positive), but with discombobulated support and institutional structures/guidelines.  I never got the same story from anyone regarding what the process exactly entailed with their evaluation process and their "area papers", but it wouldn't have kept me from going there, especially as they are actively working to rectify it.  I felt very confident that I could have navigated the program.  I did get a lot of students that said they struggled to find a "mentoring" role from above, that guidance was sporadic and dependent.  One faculty member when directly asked about mentorship said "oh, we definitely mentor students that we believe in" [my italics].  At Rutgers, I felt like there was so much love.  Students, and faculty alike.  I felt like they genuinely seemed to care about me, especially the second time around when I went to open house this year.  Even the offer email says:  "We are a program that values close mentoring relationships between faculty and students, a supportive rather than competitive environment, and a rich and lively community of scholars."  This is not to say I would not get that from Binghamton faculty.  I met several that I immediately clicked with.  And BU is not a bad program.  It's full of a history of truly revolutionary scholarship and hopefully a wonderful future.  I am finding this really difficult to write as I had such a wonderful time there.  To look the people in the eyes that I stayed with, talked with, had a drink with, and say I'm not coming will be tough.  There is so much talent there, and so much I would have learned.  I will have to figure out how to stay involved with them, but like I said, my body knew where I was going as soon as I got off the phone.  My heart has always been with Rutgers.  A program that embodies me in every which way shape and form.  And I will even get to go to the football games!! 

I called everyone, and smiled for the rest of the day.  Even now, I can't stop talking about it...  ;)     

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