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Drs. Jennifer Schlegel and Kim Shively

Associate Professor and Professor of Anthropology/Sociology  
Difference Maker

Nominator: Peter Hornbach '12

Peter's Memories: I was 25 and a combat veteran of Afghanistan by the time I first began studying anthropology at Kutztown.

My reasons for choosing the social sciences were far from anything one might consider pragmatic. I wanted to understand the full context of that in which I'd participated as a soldier. The nature of what I'd been through demanded pause and contemplation toward every aspect of what it meant to be a human being entrenched in the conditions of modernity. I sought the path of that understanding through anthropology, with Dr. Shively and Dr. Schlegel as my guides.

Dr. Shively was my advisor, my mentor, my verbal sparring partner and eventually my friend.  Dr. Schlegel introduced me to aspects of human symbolism outside the realm of anything I'd previously considered. She was often a receptive listener to my own emergent ideas about the world, and a consummate challenger of my logic. 

It was through both these women that my current understanding and organization of reality was largely carved into form. Their collective brilliance was an ever-present orienting force in my early development as an intellectual. Much of my time at Kutztown was spent finding excuses to engage in deep conversation with them both. Many of my most erroneous past assumptions about the world were gradually dispelled through our discussions, and debates and impassioned arguments. These two teachers were, and are, beyond teachers to me. Respect doesn't begin to describe what I feel toward the role they've come to play in my life. These are two women to whom I partially owe the simple existence of my current self and the privilege of awareness I now enjoy.

I grew up in an environment in which the notion of my stupidity was taken as an assumption. I was made to feel incapable and inept. I was told I was nothing. My intellectual progression in college was as much a vehicle for finally dispelling those childhood insecurities as it was for dealing with traumas from war. It held tremendous meaning that two professors, respectively educated at Harvard and UCLA, took an interest in my mind. It was exhilarating and uplifting to feel as though these two brilliant women respected me as a thinker. I can say with no exaggeration, it was in the midst of our ongoing discourse that I could finally let go of who I'd been told I was, and instead get on with the business of who I actually am.

I'm currently pursuing a second bachelor's degree in biology and a simultaneous master's degree in geo-science. I'm 32 years old, and plan to apply to medical school in one year. My ultimate life goal is to create an organization that builds medical and clean water infrastructure in war-torn developing countries. The direct path to having such power involves more immediately pragmatic, scientifically-oriented education. Biology and geoscience are my utilitarian instruments. However, it was anthropology that roused me awake to the possibilities of such instrument's use. It was Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Shively who helped me find the path upon which I now relentlessly and uncompromisingly travel.

The knowledge I gained from both of them constitutes a substrate from which all my future humanitarian endeavors will ultimately derive. It's a belief I hold at the core of myself that, were it not for their devotion, these endeavors may have never existed. I owe a great deal to them, though I know this is a notion they're both too humble to accept. They are two of the most exceptional people I've ever met, and I hope I continue to enjoy their friendship for as long as possible.

In this world, there are soldiers, and there are those who train soldiers. I'd like to say thank you to both Dr. Shively and Dr. Schlegel for giving me the training I needed to be the kind of soldier the world needs.