Home » Uncategorized » It Takes a Viking- Recap

It Takes a Viking- Recap

It’s been a very busy weekend of fruit processing and illustration, Reader, beg pardon in the delay in recapping about my public talk last Thursday. Once again I would like to thank the staff of Lodi Public Library and those who showed up for helping to make the event successful. The audience was numerous enough that more chairs had to be set up and more handouts printed (if you were there you already know this though, of course). There were two front page articles in the Lodi News-Sentinel as well. At the moment I am taking a look at feedback forms so I thought I would take the opportunity to respond to a comment or two that were made there. Many were ideas for future talks which are great and will be used to create future medieval events.

A few inquired about the school I earned my postgraduate degrees from. Some inquired about my language background as an archaeologist. I began medieval Norse language and historical studies properly after I transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior from San Joaquin Delta College. I confess though my love of anthropology kept me from a BA in Scandinavian studies. I earned one from UCB’s prestigious Anthropology department with a focus on archaeology. There were very few graduate programs in the United States able to support an early medieval application of 4 fields anthropology. There were even less on the West Coast so ultimately I took my graduate education abroad. I looked for a program able to give me the support and contacts necessary for a community college graduate trying to break into international medieval studies. I ended up at the University of Nottingham’s Archaeology Department, arriving to earn an MA in medieval archaeology and ultimately staying for my PhD as well. Nottingham is home to the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age as well as the Institute for Medieval Research. So- what is it like being at a research university with an active medieval program? I if I had to sum it up in two words: supportive and inspirational. I came in with a rare combination of skills and degrees recognized but unfamiliar as the Associate of Arts degrees don’t really have an equivalent in the UK. I had a solid 4 field conception of anthropology [still do actually], the basics of medieval Norse and early medieval history under my belt after having taken courses from eminent professors at UC Berkeley during my undergraduate. The CSVA and the IMR are both well known internationally for promoting interdisciplinary research as well as public involvement and so were a decent fit for me. I have many contacts now that never would have been possible at this stage of my career if I hadn’t gone there.

Basically, Reader, I’m living proof that it is still possible to successfully go from one of California’s community colleges to international study. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not been easy- but some of that is part of earning a postgraduate degree. Some of it is getting past the stereotypes associated with attending a community college, particularly one in an area with a reputation similar to Compton. If you truly care about what knowledge you pursue, though, it is possible.

On that note I’m off to edit. I’ve got a stack of writing and editing all needing to be done by the end of August and the days are just getting shorter.

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4 Comments

  1. jdhomie says:

    Dayanna, I’ve been following your blog since we met at MAP. Yes, the community college point is very inspiration. I went to Modesto Junior College (not a far cry from Delta) and just graduated from Santa Clara University, and am going on to start my MA this fall. I found the community college stereotypes are just totally bull. There is a wide range of students, and at MJC, there were some amazing and highly-educated faculty doing amazing work despite crappy funding and a terrible administration.

    • DKnight says:

      Cheers. That was a good conference- next it’s at Davis. If you want the cfp for it let me know. Delta is much in the same boat. I ended up there because of the strength of their anthropologists on staff. I’ve worked in student support and taught there as well. Unfortunately though it doesn’t change our perceptions of ourselves as community college students as well as what the wider public and even academia thinks we can do. Its up to us. Okay not JUST us but I’m sure you get my meaning.

      Unless more of a push is made for us to include medieval across the board academically there will continue to be very few of us cc graduates who even are willing to attempt to break out of the cycle of IGETC and and semi-soulless lower division classes. I have ideas for that but need either a real job to implement them or a bigger public base to help bring the ideas to the forefront. I’m working on both currently.

      Anyways though- MJC and Santa Clara (congrats! Grad school is where the real fun is at). You’re right in my area though should you want to discuss medieval and changing community college stereotyping in person. I’m only over in Lodi. I went to high school in Escalon though chances are you probably know people I went to high school with.

      • jdhomie says:

        That WAS a fun conference! My session went very well — one of the presenters didn’t show so the other presenter and I got to have extra time and a lively Q&A. I also enjoyed the Rare Book Room tour. However, I’m not going into medieval studies, but biblical studies, so I doubt I will be at MAP next year.

        When you got to graduate school, were you the only CC graduate? Were people surprised by it?

        I found that CC helped me a lot. I was able to be a big fish in a small pond, and that gave me a lot of confidence. MJC had a program where students could make their courses honors-enhanced by doing some kind of project at the end of the course. This required independent reading, formulating a thesis, being under the tutelage of a faculty mentor — all the kind of stuff one does in graduate school. If I had started as a freshman at some UC I would not have gotten such good training, and I would have paid a lot more for it.

      • DKnight says:

        Maybe not MAP but Kalamazoo always has a good medieval theology representation. If you haven’t go during grad school. I had to wait until I came back to the US for and it was AMAZING but there were times I wish that I’d had my advisor there to help figure out where to go a few times. But go. Totally worth it and looks great on your CV.

        As for the other questions. I was the only community college graduate in my program, mostly because I did all of my postgraduate studies in the UK. The post-secondary track is designed a little differently there. The vast majority of people only found out if they talked to me in depth or if they had to work closely with me, like my academic advisor. Since I transferred to UC Berkeley most lines of inquiry stopped at Cal and went no further. Berkeley has that kind of reputation abroad still. When I first started working with my advisor I warned him I would ask basic questions that might be silly sounding to him but needed to because I had absolutely no frame of reference of whether or not a community college grad would even be able to compete at the same level as students being produced by the international research program I was in. They can, btw. Other than that the only other time that my attending a community college came up was when I was explaining why I had 3 seemingly extra degrees on my CV, when everyone in the department thought I was working on my third degree [my PhD is actually my 6th]. That everyone was surprised by. Honestly, though, I get more surprise out of the fact here in the US than I ever did abroad, mostly because of American stereotypes towards community college. Sometimes its good, sometimes its negative. Mostly good though because there aren’t any other community college grads in the area that finished grad school abroad like me. If I had gone to an American program I don’t think I would have had to warn my advisor about questions about EVERYTHING. A lot of things I asked at first was because I was trying to get a handle on the system I was beginning.

        Delta has a similar honors program. I ended up taking it twice as I recall, once for runic and once for Viking settlement. The benefits of attending community college can be far great than the lower cost of tuition with instructors that want to teach instead of first year grad students.

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