Behind the Scenes of the SAS Annual Meeting

The Southern Anthropology Society is having its 51st Annual Meeting at the Big Sandy Conference Center this weekend. The event will have a variety of presentations from both students and anthropology professionals.

The conference chair is none other than Marshall University professor Brian Hoey. To help with the organization and set-up of the conference, Hoey took on six interns. Alexis Kastigar, Hannah Smith, Heidi Dennison, Jake Farley, Jocelyn Taylor and Samantha Harvey worked hand-in-hand with Hoey to bring the conference together.

Kastigar, a junior at Marshall University majoring in anthropology, biology and Latin, said her interest in Egyptology during her youth led her to an anthropology degree. Kastigar said she hopes to attend the University of York for a masters in biological archaeology.

Smith, an anthropology and biochemistry major in her sophomore year, said she chose to follow her desire to help people in a less medical sense.

Dennison, junior communications major. After taking a seminar with Hoey, Dennison said she found her interest in investing with the local community and hopes to become a bilingual speech pathologist.

Farley is a junior anthropology major. Before attending school, Farley said he spent a significant amount of time traveling. It was during his time traveling Farley said he found his love of different cultures. Farley said he hopes to work his way to the top and become a teacher in anthropology and culture.

Taylor is an anthropology junior. Although she is unsure of her future goals, Taylor said she would like to combine her love of anthropology and geology.

Harvey is a senior anthropology major. Harvey said her hopes to travel led her to the anthropology career path. When she heard of the opportunity to assist in the conference, Harvey said she jumped at the chance. Harvey attended many conferences in the past and said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to organize one.

All six students have to balance the workload of the internship with their other responsibilities.

“There’s a really big aspect of camaraderie with all of this because it’s so large,” Kastigar said. “It’s a struggle to juggle a project this huge when we all have other things to do. Every single one of us has just an overwhelming workload.”

The amount of work was worth it in the eyes of Hoey and the interns. “I like interacting with all of these guys,” Smith said. “But getting to know each of them individually and collaborating with them has been really cool.”

Harvey said the conference has taken months of difficult and high intensity planning. “It’s such a big project to put this whole thing together…and we’re all managing widely different tasks that sometimes don’t overlap at all,” Harvey said. 

“It’s not like a normal class where you sit and take notes,” Smith said. “You have to use almost every skill that you learn in college to make this conference work. There’s so many different facets of the conference that we’re having to pull together that’s requiring every part of your brain to connect all of these things and make this conference work.”

On top of organizing the event and maintaining the other responsibilities in their individual lives, the interns are also presenting at the conference. They said they are looking forward to the completion of the conference, although they said they have enjoyed the entire process.

“We will have a final product that will reflect on all of us,” Hoey said.

Although Hoey said he has struggled finding the balance between being a teacher and a boss, he is proud of all of the interns for the hard work and dedication they have put forth. Hoey said he plans on getting a conference poster signed by all of the interns to keep as a keepsake of the time spent putting the event together.

Taylor Poling can be contacted by [email protected].