#ElonGrad 2022 spotlight: Hannah Boone, anthropology

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.

Honors Fellow Hannah Boone ’22 stumbled into her anthropology major in a familiar Elon way.

“I was placed in an anthropology course my first semester. I had no idea what anthropology was, but by the end of that first class, I knew I was going to declare it as my major,” Boone said. “I love talking to people and learning about how they see and interact with the world, and anthropology provided me with the opportunity to do that for my entire career.”

Boone is a member of the Lambda Alpha National Anthropology Honor Society, and this spring was recognized with the Outstanding Senior in Anthropology award as well as the Program for Ethnographic Research and Community Studies’ Outstanding Ethnography Award.

Tell us about your undergraduate research.

I conducted my undergraduate Honors thesis on young climate activists and what motivates them to get involved. Anthropological theory has previously emphasized the role of material resources in the success of social movements, but young people do not have access to those resources. Therefore, I theorized that young people’s emotions in response to the climate crisis mobilized them, and I conducted interviews and art activities to learn more about their motivations.

I selected this topic because it is incredibly relevant and I wanted to amplify the voices of young people fighting for the future. I presented this research at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum in 2021 and 2022, at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, and at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.

I have had the opportunity to work closely with two professors throughout the course of my undergraduate research. The first was Dr. Jennifer Carroll, who helped me get the project up and running and helped me begin the research process. She moved to N.C. State University last year, and so I got the chance to finish my project with the guidance of Dr. Leyla Savloff. She worked with me throughout the final stages of data collection and the writing of my thesis. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with both of them, as they both taught me so much!

What are your post-Elon plans?

After graduation, I will be moving to Corvallis, Oregon, to get my master’s in applied anthropology at Oregon State University. I have received full funding from the program through a graduate teaching assistantship, and I am extremely excited for the opportunity to get teaching experience while also learning more and continuing my research.

What have been the most valuable aspects of your time at Elon?

The most valuable experiences for me have been conducting my research, working in the anthropology and sociology office, and participating in a study abroad program in Costa Rica.

I have learned so much about the research process, and feel well-equipped to successfully complete a master’s thesis. I have gained skills in interviewing, writing and public speaking, which are all helpful in many aspects of life. Working in the Ant/Soc office gave me the chance to get to know the professors in the department well, in addition to the opportunity to edit two books for professors. This expanded my knowledge of the field, gave me work experience and gave me the chance to get to know some incredible people.

Finally, the time I spent in Costa Rica is probably the most rewarding experience of my college career. I got to live with a host family, which greatly improved my Spanish skills and expanded my knowledge of the differences and similarities among cultures. Traveling around the country with a group of people who were also so excited to learn and take in the new experiences was truly wonderful, and I cannot put all my feelings about it into words. In regards to things I am proud of, my thesis is at the top of the list, as that work was incredibly meaningful.

What advice would you give first-year students?

I would tell first year students not to over-schedule themselves, but to really invest themselves in a few things they love. I would also tell them to enjoy every moment – it sounds cliché, but time has flown and I would give anything to be able to go back and tell myself not to take a minute for granted. Take classes that interest you, spend time with friends who love and support you and take advantage of the opportunities that Elon provides. Finally, I would recommend getting to know the professors in your department, as that opens doors that you might not even realize exist.