Student Spotlight: Ayla Volante

Student Spotlight: Ayla Volante
Mon, 01/30/2023 - 11:44

Majors: Anthropology, global studies
Minors: Arabic, archaeology
Hometown: Bloomington, MN
Year at UNL: Senior

Favorite book and why:
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson would be my favorite book right now. It was actually the assigned book for JOMC 222, "Social Justice, Human Rights, and the Media", which I took for my global studies major, but was such an interesting and inspiring read. It followed the court cases that Bryan Stevenson, a social justice lawyer, worked and his experience starting a human rights organization in the South in the 80s. I prefer to read books that are based on historical events and real-life people and I recommend this to those interested in social justice.

Favorite movie and why:
My favorite movie is Big Hero 6. I loved watching the movie growing up and Baymax is one of my favorite movie characters.

Why are you studying your chosen major(s) and minor(s)?
When I started college, my plan was to declare as an anthropology major with minors in Spanish and archaeology because I wanted to do archaeology in Latin America. I then became interested in studying Arabic and the history of the Middle East. I added my global studies major because I am interested in diplomacy and the global community.

What are some of the best/most interesting classes you’ve taken?
My favorite classes that I have taken at UNL are ANTH 490 "Underwater Forensic Investigation", COMM/ETHN 311 "Intercultural and Intergroup Communication", JOMC 222 "Social Justice, Human Rights, and the Media", and CERM 131 "Ceramics Wheel Throwing".

In ANTH 490 with Dr. Belcher, I learned how to scuba dive and the methods for search, rescue, and recovery in an underwater setting. I took COMM 311 and JOMC 222 for my global studies major and I like how this major allows me to take courses from other disciplines. Being an anthropology and global studies major has allowed me to take a variety of interesting classes and I recommend those who are undecided majors or looking to fill their schedules look into courses offered by these departments as the course offerings are so diverse.

Extracurricular Experience:
At UNL, I have participated in research with the archaeology department through the FYRE (First Year Research Experience) and UCARE (Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience) programs. I also am one of the co-presidents for the Women's Lacrosse Club, and I play ultimate frisbee with the club team at UNL as well.

I have been fortunate to have had two abroad experiences while at UNL. I was able to go to Germany this past summer with Dr. Belcher and other forensic anthropology and forensic science students. We participated in a forensic archaeology field school related to the recovery of an MIA US service member from a B-24H Bomber from WWII. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in such an important excavation and it has definitely influenced my interest in pursuing a career in forensic archaeology. This past fall, I spent the semester in Amman, Jordan where I studied Arabic through the CET Intensive Arabic language program. I was there for 3.5 months and had the absolute best semester. Besides studying, I got to see the famous site of Petra, sleep in a traditional tent in the desert of Wadi Rum, swim at the beautiful beaches in Aqaba, and hike up the river canyon of Wadi Mujib. One of my favorite things to do while in Jordan was play ultimate frisbee. My teammates became my best friends and family in Jordan and I got to go to Saudi Arabia to play in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional tournament.

Finding both academic and extracurriculars to participate in is a very important part of the college experience. My participation with the lacrosse and ultimate frisbee clubs has been so important to me in finding my community of friends on campus and my role on the lacrosse team has taught me leadership. Staying active is something very important to me and I was so happy to find such a welcoming community in a country that was so new to me. The friendships I made while abroad are lifelong and span the borders of numerous countries. Studying abroad is so important because you learn to be a global citizen and make lasting global connections.

As a global studies major, it is a requirement to either have an internship or study abroad, but I recommend it for all students. There are so many programs that are geared toward all different majors like engineering, business, computer science, and medicine, so do not think that there wouldn't be a program for you. Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to see so much of the world. In the last 6 months alone, I have gotten to go to 8 countries around Europe and the Middle East Region.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I currently do not have any solidified post-graduation plans. I am looking at either continuing my travels abroad through a fellowship program or finding a job within the archaeology or global studies field. Career paths that have interested me are forensic archaeology, cultural archaeology, and diplomacy as a foreign service officer.