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My W&L: Craig Shapiro ’15

“Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington.”

Over the past few years, the world has become smaller to me, as Washington and Lee has helped to exponentially expand my horizons. Faculty and staff have supported me in my pursuit of fostering a greater global perspective to bring back to Lexington. Being selected as a Leyburn Scholar and Woolley Fellow helped me gain archaeological field experience and cultivate my archaeological skillset in Europe and the South Pacific.

I am privileged to have lived in native villages while exploring the islands of Fiji and Samoa, done fieldwork on an island with no electricity, running water or cars–let alone roads–in southern Vanuatu, learned the hard way that hitchhikers have to walk when nobody picks them up, and excavated at classical Roman sites on an island off the Eastern coast of Spain and in Southwestern Bulgaria. In traveling abroad, I made countless new friends from a diverse array of backgrounds. My willingness to put myself in unfamiliar situations has nurtured my ability to adapt and my love for both exploration and discovery, while providing me with opportunities to forge relationships that created richer experiences while abroad.

My adventurous habits have fueled my growth as an individual and brought me leaps and bounds closer to being prepared for life after W&L. In this sense, I find myself in a unique position as an aspiring Peace Corps Volunteer. I saw first-hand in Samoa and Vanuatu the incredible impact volunteers can have on a community and personal reward they gain from their service. I also witnessed the issues of working in the developing world and the difficulties of living in some of the most remote, culturally different places on Earth.

As a result, my remaining time in Lexington has been focused around sharing my newly widened perspective and urging other students to similarly expand their horizons. Obtaining a greater understanding of the world is an essential part of a liberal arts education, and the communicative character of the W&L community promotes getting to know one’s professors and peers on a personal level. This is one of the main reasons that I chose W&L, and I’ve been fortunate to gain so much from its collaborative nature and benefit from relationships that will surely continue after I move on from my undergraduate experience.

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Hometown: Penllyn, PA

Major: Sociology & Anthropology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Archaeological Field Technician, Washington and Lee University Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Communications and Alumni Affairs Chair, Hillel Executive Board
  • EC Student Representative, Washington and Lee University International Education Committee
  • Peace Corps Campus Ambassador
  • Fiddle and Vocals, Washington and Lee University Bluegrass Ensemble
  • Work Study Supervisor, Washington and Lee University Hillel
  • Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Research Assistant, Australian National University and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Tafea Province, Vanuatu
  • American Research Center in Sofia Archaeological Field School at Heraclea Sintica, Bulgaria
  • The Sanisera Archaeological Institute for International Field Schools: Dig in the Roman City of Sanisera and GIS applied in Archaeology in Menorca, Spain
  • Pacific Communities and Social Change: Samoa (SIT Study Abroad)
  • Swimming Instructor/Swim Coach, Great Neck Park District
  • AIPAC Policy Conference Washington and Lee Campus Representative

Post-Graduation Plans: Peace Corps, followed by graduate school for archaeology

Favorite W&L Event: Alumni/concert weekend during Spring Term

Favorite Campus Landmark: The rotunda balcony in Gaines Hall

What’s your passion? Discovery

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? I play fiddle in a bluegrass band

Why did you choose your major? To gain a better understanding of people, culture, and the world

What professor has inspired you? Professor James Flexner taught my first two anthropology courses and invited me to help with the Southern Vanuatu Mission Archaeology Project.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Be open-minded and study abroad.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Pencil sharpeners are pretty hard to find on this campus so you should have your own.