Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 1:11pm
By:
Alan Flurry

University of Georgia student Sarah Riggs will be joining the National Geographic Society’s Human Journey Grants team as its first intern:

The Human Journey team focuses its research on cultures and cultural sustainability to learn more about who we are and what our future will be. The team focuses on a diverse range of topics, from extinct ancient grains and the sustainability of palm oil to climate change. Grants support projects studying human society and the trends in culture.

The new intern program is designed to provide students the opportunity to do real research and perfect their research process in a professional setting.

Riggs, a third-year anthropology student minoring in classical culture at UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, started on this journey her junior year of high school when her A.P. language teacher asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said, “I don’t know, but I want something that involves travel, reading and writing.” He suggested anthropology. After looking up careers in anthropology, Riggs was hooked.

“One year ago, I was in a visual anthropology class with Dr. [Julie] Runk. In the beginning, they asked us ‘Why do you want to take this visual anthropology class, what do you want to do in the future, what are your goals?’ I said I want to work for National Geographic. And a year later, I have this internship,” said Riggs.

Riggs said she has the supportive faculty of the anthropology department to thank for her success. Assistant professor Jennifer Birch read Riggs’ resume over spring break to make sure it was ready to submit to National Geographic. Assistant professor Christina Joseph’s cultural anthropology class helped prepare Riggs for the internship with a final project that went through all the stages of planning field research, including finding funding. The department also hosts a mentoring program that pairs undergraduate and graduate students.

Congratulations to Riggs on this terrific opportunity. Students enjoy an amazing support system in the department of anthropology, as this article makes clear. It's on our students to make the most of their opportunities and time on campus, but engaged, enthusiastic professors and mentors make a difference as well and we are grateful for ours.

Image: Sarah Riggs stands on top of the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City during her study abroad trip last summer.