Western - A Little Special: Video Transcript

Michael P. Pateman (Miami, 2002) [Archaeologist/Senior Ecologist for the non-profit Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation]: Initially I didn't know anything about the Western Program when I looked at Miami University, because my primary focus was in anthropology and archeology. So when I applied to Miami, my initial intention was in the anthropology program. However, I was recommended by a professor of mine who had trained me in archeology to look at the Western Program. She had told me that the interdisciplinary nature and the way that they teach and encourage students to learn would be good for me as an undergraduate and take me further into graduate school. And it was ultimately a good decision because a lot of the critical thinking skills that I learned as a Western College student, I was able to apply as a grad student in both my Master's and my PhD programs. A lot of my projects are very interdisciplinary, and so instead of having to bring in outside experts, I can do a lot of work myself, because I've got a wide background in different subjects. So not only in the anthropology, I did a lot of geography, marine ecology, geology, and so forth.

I focused on Bahamian archeology, because I am from the Bahamas, so I have always wanted to go back home and make an impact in my home country. So by focusing on archeology in the Bahamas, I have been able to go back home and contribute towards my national development, towards the development of the protection of cultural heritage in the country.

When I was an undergrad at Miami, the Western Program was a little special, to say the least. And a lot of my fond memories fall in the Western Program. One of the classes we took there was a class in creativity and culture, and the whole class subject was on toys. And initially for me this was a little shocking, because this was one of the first classes I took at Western. And where I came from in the Bahamas, we had a very, I don't want to say the word 'normal', but structured, normal education, so it was a little eye-opening, and the freedom of education, and the freedom of picking your own subjects, was probably one of the best experiences for me as a student. Also, the friendships I made - I'm still in communication with a lot of people who I went to Miami with, and this has been more than 10 years now since I've left.

If you want to study archeology, you can work in the heritage field, you can work in museums, you can work in cultural resource management fields. You always have the potential of going into grad school and getting a doctorate degree and working in education as a professor. Before I got into archeology as a discipline, I was a computer programmer and a database manager. I studied that at the College of the Bahamas before I made the switch into archeology. A big project I have right now is I'm working on a grant from the British Library called the Endangered Archives Program, where I would be digitizing historic records from the Bahamas. I'm developing a web database to input them into, and this will allow researchers an easier access to historic documents from the Bahamas.

Get into a field you love to do. Don't look at your education from what can I make money from. All of our parents want us to make money when we graduate, but if you are making money and you're not happy, then you're not going to really enjoy your career. The education that I got and the focus that I did, especially the move from computer programming into anthropology, has been just a great joy for me. I enjoy my career. I enjoy what I do. And although the money isn't there that I would like, I'm happy, so it's worthwhile.

[November 2015]