#ElonGrad 2021 spotlight: Elliott Rivette, anthropology

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2021 from a wide array of disciplines.

A double-major in anthropology and journalism, faculty in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology named Elliott Rivette ’21 as a standout member of the Class of 2021.

Rivette chose his majors for a strong foundation in research, interview and writing skills. He is a member of the Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association honor society and has been named to the Dean’s List and President’s List multiple semesters.

Tell us about your undergraduate research.

It was an online news framing content analysis of the Eritrean diaspora and nation-state. I selected the topic because I learned that Eritrea is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the Reporters Without Borders freedom of press index. Currently, Eritrea is at the bottom of the list, below North Korea, Turkmenistan, and China. I firmly believe in the importance of the First Amendment, which is why I decided to research Eritrea’s current situation. I discovered that the current regime has used news framing and totalitarian control over the media within the country to hide human rights violations for decades. I presented this research at the North Carolina Sociological Association’s 2021 conference.

What’s your proudest accomplishment at Elon?

I’m proudest of the continuation and expansion on my undergraduate research that I have been doing for my anthropology senior seminar. This final research study I am close to finishing is on the Eritrean diaspora usage of digital media platforms. This is definitely my crowning achievement since it is building on my previous undergraduate research and contributing to the existing anthropological research on Eritrea. It took all the steps and achievements I have taken along the way these past four years to build my skills and knowledge to be able to complete such a significant research study.

Has a mentor or professor had a significant influence on your time at Elon?

I have been working closely with Associate Professor Mussa Idris on my undergraduate research and my senior seminar project. However, I have been working with Dr. Idris since my first year when I took qualitative research methods, which furthered my goal of understanding research and interviewing skills. Following that, Dr. Idris was also my professor in a class on the history of anthropological theory, which helped me improve my analytical and writing abilities. In my third year, I spent time interviewing Dr. Idris and learning about Eritrea, which sparked my curiosity about that cultural subject in the first place. In my final year here at Elon I have been researching with Dr. Idris. I never thought prior to coming to Elon that I would be working on research that is so important. It has truly been an honor to have Associate Professor Mussa Idris as a mentor and teacher during my time here.

What are your future plans?

I plan to take my skills and apply them to conducting investigations. I found a private investigation firm with experts who are willing to show me the ropes of being a private investigator. Obviously, Elon is not the end of my learning process, but it has given me abilities I will use to work hard at developing and improving further. I plan to attend law school or a graduate program of some kind in the future.

What advice would you give to future Elon students?

My advice for future Elon students is to take responsibility for their own education. Internships and research have made a positive impact on me. I completed two internships and I only wish I had done another one during my first summer. Time is the most valuable thing in the universe, so don’t let a second go to waste. Spend every moment doing whatever it is you love.

What’s your favorite Elon tradition?

My favorite tradition is probably the little acorn that everyone receives their first year at Elon. I have spent many hours walking under the oak trees on campus. It is nice to have a piece of nature from Elon to take with me.