Bradley DeBiase ’11

JOB TITLE: Teaching and research assistant
ORGANIZATION: The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University
LOCATION: Tempe, Arizona
GRADUATE DEGREE: Currently finishing an M.A. degree and on the path to completing a Ph.D. in the anthropology of religion

What was your first position after college? Following my graduation, I took a year to work, save money, and give my graduate school applications the necessary time and attention they required. Before actually applying for graduate school, I contacted a faculty member at Arizona State University whose research interests were in line with what I wanted to pursue in graduate research. This was Dr. Miguel Astor-Aguilera, who studied contemporary Maya cosmologies, ritual, and culture. He was integral in advising me through the application process. Ultimately I was admitted and was able to more or less pick up where I left off following my time at Trinity under the instruction of Dr. Jane Nadel-Klein and Dr. Leslie Desmangles, my undergraduate anthropology and religion advisers, respectively.           

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? In pursuing a Ph.D. in the social sciences and humanities, the liberal arts training I received at Trinity has directly shaped where I am currently. I would argue that the Anthropology Department is particularly unique in that it introduces students to new ways to see and understand the world and its many different peoples, cultures, and worldviews. These very fundamental tools provided through the anthropology major have been especially useful in going into education and working closely with students from every walk of life.           

A study abroad in Guatemala for a firsthand, ethnographic introduction to my field was a key feature of my undergraduate education. Extracurricular-wise, I spent considerable time as a technician at the Austin Arts Center, working on set design and construction, lighting and sound design, electrics, run crew, and other elements of technical theater that were personally fulfilling. I would encourage undergraduates to pursue a similar hobby (and get paid for it if possible) in tandem with pursuing a rigorous course of study to take full advantage of what Trinity has to offer.           

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Be passionate, and chase your interests! The beauty of Trinity’s education is that you can research what you find interesting and exciting. As for preparation in terms of going into academia, I would suggest that students take full advantage of the opportunities Trinity provides because the work you put in during your undergraduate education directly informs your process of entering graduate school (relating to the relationship you have with your advisers, your writing samples, and the background you have in your respective field). These things may seem self-evident, but they are important down the road!       

What is the biggest misconception about your field? I thought that my graduate school experience would be similar to my undergraduate experience. Going from a small liberal arts college to a large state school, the nature of education is incredibly different. Professors here are far more concerned with their individual research than with teaching. Still exciting, but the sheer amount of work was a bit jarring at first.