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Roxann Lawrence

Anthropology and Sociology

Hometown: Deans Valley, Westmoreland, Jamaica
Major: Anthropology & Sociology
Concentration: Public Policy and Urban Affairs
Study Abroad: Strasbourg, France
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Pistachio
Best Adjective to Describe You: Easily-adaptable

In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
The classroom conversations between professors and students are riveting. 

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
I am heavily involved in community outreach projects in the Kalamazoo community. Anthropology & Sociology classes have provided me with theory that was applicable to understanding the different communities that I worked with. Naturally, I became invested in a department that allowed me to combine theory and practice to the work that I love to do. However, my interest in the department peeked after meeting some of the most wonderful professors at K. The professors in the AnSo department are open, approachable and easy to work with. They establish a learning environment that not only challenges our social conceptions and assumptions of who we are and the world that we live in but they are also wide open to learning from their students in the classroom.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Don't be afraid to challenge your beliefs and assumptions about the society that you live in. It can be difficult but the learning process is rewarding and empowering. As you attempt to do this, you should never be afraid to cultivate a voice in the classroom. Participation in classroom discussions at K College is highly encouraged. We all have something that we believe (or don’t believe in). Use your voice! Be bold! Be brave!

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
My involvement in community outreach through the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service Learning has been one of the most rewarding activities I have done at Kalamazoo College. Through these types of engagement, I am able to witness firsthand the impacts that social and structural inequalities have on peoples' lives. AnSo gives attention to these social differences; power struggles, social hierarchies, racism, sexism, environmental and food injustices. It allows me to consider things that may otherwise be invisible and harder to grasp. Through exploring a number of different classes in the AnSo department, I became better equipped in understanding differences in peoples' social realities and trajectories. These kinds of knowledge help to propel the work that I do in the community by providing background, yet integral information and at the same time honing my skills as a social justice advocate.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Thanks to the Service Learning Department and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL), I have learned a lot about what it means to engage in social justice activism and critical service learning. I have been afforded many opportunities to learn and grow as a social justice leader through the many different programs available in these departments. I have not only learned about the importance of valuing the voices of the community members that I work with but also ensuring that these individuals are heavily involved physically and intellectually in every community project that I work on.  This and the many other things that I have learned will stay with me as I pursue a career in Social Work or Public Policy.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
My favorite class at K has been Laura Barraclough's Race and Racism. Apart from the fact that she is an awesome professor, this class provided me with a historical and contemporary analysis of racism in America. Coming from a more racially homogeneous society in Jamaica, I didn't understand the concept of racism though it played an instrumental role in the lives of the community members that I worked with. After taking Laura's class, I gained a better understanding of the intersections between racism and social institutions that uphold it. Most importantly, I learned about myself as a racialized project and I was able to challenge my own racial prejudices, and misconceptions.

What is your SIP?
My SIP explores the relationship between Haitians and North American mission teams in Haiti. It focuses on the dualistic nature of their encounters, that is, there tends to be a certain sense of oneness in terms of shared humanity but also a heightened sense of distance and difference regarding belief systems and values.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
Based on my passions and the experiences that I was able to acquire here at K, I am thinking about pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Policy or Social Work.

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