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Alumnae

Smith anthropology majors have the potential to pursue work in a wide range of fields. Graduates have gone on to rewarding careers in medicine, public health, international human rights, international development, journalism, nursing, primary and secondary education, law and environmental activism. Many alumnae have also gone on to obtain advanced degrees in various subfields of anthropology.

Tell Us Your Story

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to profile the accomplishments of alumnae. We invite alumnae to contact Suzanne Gottschang, the department chair, for information on how to participate. Please describe your career path and reflect on the relationship between your work and the perspectives gained by majoring in anthropology as an undergraduate.

Victoria Fort '07

Victoria Fort

Victoria is an ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where she focuses on cholera surveillance in the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Africa. Victoria works within the field epidemiology and lab training program that enhances the public health workforce capacity in African countries. Her team collaborates closely with USAID and WHO to improve disease detection and response by enhancing disease surveillance. These efforts have focused on communicable diseases but are slowly incorporating chronic diseases as they become a more pressing issue in many developing countries.

While at Smith, Victoria focused on development anthropology and studied abroad in South Africa on a public health program with the School for International Training. In South Africa, she did a thesis on exclusive breastfeeding and HIV in a Durban township. After graduation, Victoria joinged Americorps NCCC for a year. She volunteered in three states: working to reduce homelessness in Louisiana; to improve education in California; and to reduce teen drug use in Alaska.

Grace Lee '00

Grace Lee

As part of the Research/Evaluation Unit at Special Service for Groups (SSG), Grace provides technical assistance on community-based action research to nonprofits throughout Los Angeles County. She conducts key stakeholder interviews, facilitates focus groups, and designs databases and evaluation tools for various agencies.

Grace has been committed to working with marginalized and disadvantaged communities. At Smith, she volunteered at the Northampton needle-exchange program and wrote her honors thesis on the role of needle-exchange programs in HIV prevention. With a Praxis grant, she interned at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation/HIV prevention project for a summer and was hired as staff upon graduation. She also interned at Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy for a summer, conducting research on pesticide use in family farms.

Michelle L'Esperance '97

Michelle L'Esperance

Michelle is a certified professional midwife and doula. She works in Western Massachusetts as a birth and postpartum doula, midwife trained in homebirth and as a teacher and mentor to aspiring doulas and midwives. She is also the mother of two boys born gently at home.

Michelle realized that anthropology afforded her an ideal opportunity to gain an important theoretical foundation for learning midwifery. She was energized by delving into explorations of cross-cultural studies of birth, medical anthropology and women's health. It quickly became clear to Michelle that in choosing a career in homebirth midwifery, she was aligning herself with a nondominant paradigm of women's health.

Suzanne Schwartz '07

Suzanne Schwartz

After graduating from Smith, Suzanne spent a year working as a consumer insights specialist at MEC, a media planning and buying agency in New York City. There she researched market and media trends and was part of a team that conducted consumer research on what people bought and what media they used to inform clients about advertisement placement. Suzanne's work at MEC included one-on-one interviews, focus groups, focus-group blogs and video-based research. She also developed and delivered presentations on consumer and media trends to clients.

She also works on funded projects, including a large-scale research project on child malnutrition in the poorest districts in India. For that project, Suzanne has used her anthropological knowledge of variances in culture to help team statisticians develop the project's sampling plan and design the interview protocol. She is also applying her knowledge of Indian culture and the Hindi language to help write survey questionnaires.

Shelley Silverman '88

Shelley Silverman

Shelley lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has a private practice for psychotherapy at the King Kalakaua Center for Humanistic Psychotherapy. She works collaboratively with psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. Shelley is both a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist and family nurse practitioner. The clinic, founded by Dr. Rene Tillich, provides psychodynamic individual and couples therapy.

Due to its diverse population, Shelley finds Hawaii to be an ideal place for someone with a cultural anthropology background. Cultural issues are often discussed during clinical supervision. Shelley relies on her strong foundation in critical thinking and theory from her anthropology and advanced nursing training in her practice. She adheres to a holistic assessment that incorporates culture, medical history, environment, spiritual beliefs, family and health status.

Ayako Takamori '00

Ayako Takamori

Ayako lives in New York City and teaches anthropology courses at New York University (NYU) and Fordham University. In June 2010, she defended her Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at NYU. Her dissertation, based on fieldwork research conducted in Tokyo from 2005 to 2006, focused on the experiences of Japanese Americans living in Japan. She published the article, "Rethinking Japanese American 'Heritage' in the Homeland," in Critical Asian Studies. Her research interests include Asian diasporas, transnational migration, visual and media studies, and comparative race and ethnicity. She went to Tokyo as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tokyo/Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

At Smith, Ayako had a double major in women's studies and anthropology. She also played piano throughout her time as an undergraduate. Her experiences working for the Smith College Archives and the journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism were particularly memorable. Ayako credits her Smith education and her faculty mentors for inspiring her to pursue graduate studies in anthropology. She is excited about her research and teaching career.

Laura Taylor-Kale '00

Laura Taylor-Kale

A career diplomat of the U.S. Foreign Service since 2003, Laura is currently at The World Bank as an advisor to the U.S. executive director. Laura reviews Bank Group loans and strategies for the Middle East and Africa and those relating to environment and energy policy and extractive industries. She coordinates with the U.S. Treasury and U.S. State departments and USAID to develop official U.S. government positions on loans and strategies that management then presents to the board of directors. Following this special assignment, Laura will join the State Department's Office of Development Finance as the Asian development bank desk officer.

Laura has a bachelor of arts in economics and anthropology from Smith and a master of public affairs, with a specialization in demography and economic development, from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. In high school, Laura completed the international baccalaureate diploma at the United World College-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico.