Emily Ovalle sits in the quad eating her strawberry crepe, sipping on her Starbucks caramel macchiato. Ovalle passionately talked about her current lifestyle and family’s background which played a huge part on why she chose to major in anthropology.

She is currently a barista at Starbucks. However, when she’s not working she’s at home listening to show tunes or watching movies.

“I’m either listening to show tunes and trying to put on one woman shows or watching movies,” she said. “I love movies!”

Her favorite genres include period pieces and cult classics.

My favorite movie is ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ Ovalle said. “That’s my favorite book. Jane Austen is amazing. ‘Cry Baby’ is a really good one too. Anything with Johnny Depp is amazing…anything.”

When Ovalle is not working or hanging out at home, she focuses her mind on studying anthropology because she wants to keep culture alive.

Ovalle comes from a background of many different cultures.

“Normally when somebody would ask me, I would identify myself as Irish and Mexican because that’s the majority of my family’s nationality,” she said. “But it goes a lot deeper than that. On my father’s side, my grandmother is Chinese and Mexican and my grandfather is Guatemalan.”

When she opened up about her family tree, she mentioned her mother’s side of the family. Her great-grandfather is a full blood Cherokee Indian who grew up on a reservation. Ovalle’s great-grandfather met and fell in love with her great-grandmother, an Irish immigrant, who moved to America from Ireland. Moving down the family tree, Ovalle’s grandmother married an Irish man which kept the Irish blood in the family line.

To take a step further back into history, Ovalle said that her great-grandfather’s mother remarried a man with the last name Paine. This man turned out to be a descendant of Thomas Paine, the English American Writer who helped pave the way for the Declaration of Independence. Based on her discovery of her family background, she likes the idea of developing a deeper sense of knowledge of her cultural background.

“It’s one thing to just say that you’re something but it’s another thing to say it and understand it,” she said. “Right now I can say it, I can tell people as much as I want but it won’t really be true until I fully understand it and explain it to them.”

Aside from her family’s history and background influencing her anthropological path, she likes the many different ways anthropology can direct her to.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re into history or sciences,” she said. “Anthropology kind of covers it all, like linguistics, cultural, physical, and biological.”

Ovalle is currently taking a cultural anthropology class at PCC and has found it to be interesting and eye opening.

“I’m torn between cultural and physical,” she said. “With cultural you delve into a different world. With physical you’re sort of learning things in a scientific way because you’re learning stuff like genetics. Just being in this anthropology class I’ve discovered so many different things I never would have thought about before.”

She would like to study in Africa for her first place of fieldwork. She chose Africa because she said that anthropologists and scientists discover new species that mostly originate from there. Due to those findings, she’d like to see where and how it all started.

She would also like to do fieldwork in South America because many forensic anthropologists discover skeletal findings of human population, animal remains, and stone tools from over 15,000 years ago. She has high hopes of getting an internship which will allow her to work with a physical anthropologist medical examiner because she has a deep interest in physical anthropology.

Along with studying in places like Africa and South America, Ovalle would definitely like to touch base with her family’s roots by traveling and studying in the countries where they originated from.

“You could be the carrier of something and keep it going,” she said. “Just knowing that is exciting. “You just want to keep that alive. You don’t want people to forget where they came from or what was there before them.”

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