Leigh Rodi


Name: Leigh Rodi

College: Stevenson

Department: Anthropology

What Award/ Scholarship did you receive? I received a Dean’s Award.

What year do you expect to graduate? I expect to graduate this spring (2022).

Where do you call home? I lived all over the southeast growing up, but I’m not sure if that’s home for me anymore. Santa Cruz feels like home.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? From the outset I was struck by the sheer beauty of campus and the school’s proximity to the ocean. To be perfectly honest, the quality of education was
just the cherry on top; as an incoming freshman I was more excited about the prospects of surfing after class than going to class in the first place.

What is your field of focus? Within cultural anthropology, I’m most interested in studying social and political dynamics in Latin America, including globalization and enculturation, tourism and non-places, development, mythology, political economy and ecology, indigeneity, and sovereignty.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I hope to spend some time traveling around South America, figuring out whether or not I could see myself doing research in the region while working on my Spanish skills.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? I think the seminal moment for me in terms of what helped me grow as a person, was the COLA protest on campus in 2020. I realize this was a several month long period but I cannot pick a specific moment that stood out; it was my lengthy immersion in it, the lived experience of being a part of a loving and passionate community, that really left a mark on me. Taking classes at the base of campus, classes which were specifically about the financialization of higher education and the militarization of police, felt pertinent and surreal with COLA protests happening in the background. I’ll never forget those days.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz? Leave your comfort zone as much as you can. Learning is not about accumulating information, it's about becoming a wiser person, and it's natural for it to be a little bit painful at times.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life /research? This is the first time I’ve ever really won anything for my writing. It was amazing, through my correspondence with brilliant anthropologists while I wrote my thesis, to get a glimpse of what being an anthropologist is really like. Being a part of the anthropology community in Santa Cruz instilled a sense of belonging, got me excited about my professional future, and encouraged me to continue my education in graduate school (hopefully). I want to (because I did not include an acknowledgements page in my thesis) thank Professor Anderson, Lachlan Summers, Guillermo Delgado, Natalie Ng and all of the other wonderful educators that I’ve been lucky enough to learn from over the years.

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