Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Growing up I had random aspirations for different career paths, some very typical for a child. For a few years I wanted to be a vet, then I though about being a chef, and lastly an artist. In my Junior year of high school they were offering an anthropology class. I needed an additional elective and decided to take it because it seemed interesting. I immediately fell in love with the subject. It was because of that class I went on to peruse it further in college. I attended Portland Community College to get some basic credits out of the way. I did take some introduction anthropology classes while I was there, which strengthen my major decision. After graduating Portland Community College with an associated of transfer degree I attended Portland State University where I majored in anthropology and minored in philosophy. There staff there was amazing and I learned so much from them. In my last year there I needed some more anthropology credits, and one of my teachers offered a folklore course. I thought that would by a fun class to take, so I registered for it. This is where I found what I wanted to study in graduate school. For that class we had to pick a folklore topic and write a research paper about it. I had chosen Sinterklaas, a holiday celebrated in the Netherlands. I chose this topic because I was born in the Netherlands and it allowed me to connect to my cultural heritage. After the class was over I wanted to write more about the topic. The is so much more to that holiday that could have additional research into it. For example, there is a current debate in the Netherlands over Sinterklaas’s helper Zwarte Piet. And whether or not it is a racist figure. When I applied to graduate programs I decided that would be my thesis topic. I got accepted to the University of Oregon to their Folklore and Public Culture program. In the fall of 2020 I will be traveling to the Netherlands to do fieldwork for my thesis during the time the holiday is celebrated.

Iris from Oregon
University of Oregon