Student Spotlight: Arria Hauldin

Arria Hauldin, a senior in anthropology, traveled to Vietnam on a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Arria Hauldin is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology within the Department of Anthropology, part of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to her studies, Hauldin was awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship that funded her trip abroad to teach in Vietnam.

Where are you from, and what year in school are you? What is your anticipated graduation date?

I am from Cooper City, Fla., and I am a rising senior. I anticipate graduating in May 2020.

What brought you to FSU?

I came to FSU through the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement. The CARE community offered a home-away-from-home as I met students with similar backgrounds and connected with other first-generation college students, Americans and Caribbean students.

What inspired you to choose your major and your specific area of research? What aspect of anthropology do you find most fascinating?

I pursued anthropology because I wanted a broad major that offered a wide range of subjects to study, such as history, language, culture, biology and society. Anthropology critically examines human beings as a species and analyzes how our shared human experience, both in the past and present, connects us to one another. The field is constantly growing, so I enjoy knowing I can study evolution of the human brain while also studying different cultures and still have dozens of subjects to discover. Anthropology has opened my mind to the world by providing me an inclusive perspective that values both science and society.

How did you learn about the Gilman Scholarship opportunity, and what made you choose Vietnam as the location for your trip abroad?

I first heard of the Gilman Scholarship through a CARE-sponsored assembly about funding experiences abroad and learned more through the Office of National Fellowships. I was hesitant because I did not think I qualified for a national fellowship, but I ultimately decided to apply since I had an opportunity in mind.

Vietnam has always appealed to me because I wanted to learn about the country beyond what I learned in history class; I wanted to learn about modern-day Vietnamese society. I was drawn to the organization I am working with, Coins for Change, because it helps women and children across Vietnam achieve economic and educational goals, such as learning English. The organization is the first of its kind to help marginalized women and was founded by a strong, independent Vietnamese woman. I wanted to work in an area where I could be of the most use, and Coins for Change worked with me to find an area that fit perfectly.

What has your experience in Vietnam been like?

My experience in Vietnam was memorable, life-changing and arduous. I remember a student screamed, cried, and then threw up when I spoke to him. I’ve had pictures taken of me from many angles, entire families stare at me as they drive by on motorbikes, students scream and hide in the hallway when I walk by, and babies cry when they see me. But I’ve also had people smile and yell, “Hello!” at me, my students excitedly speak to me in Vietnamese and give me high-fives, and my host siblings treat me like part of the family.

There were times I felt I didn’t belong in Vietnam, but those pale in comparison to the transformative moments I experienced. My host family, the school I teach in, and my fellow teachers and teaching assistants welcomed me with open arms and offered more kindness, support and hospitality than I could have imagined. I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow alongside such a wonderful community. I hope to return one day.

Are there any faculty or staff who have helped and/or inspired you?

I have been inspired by many incredible faculty members and staff at FSU. Jesse Wieland, assistant director in the FSU Office of National Fellowships, offered me guidance, support, and wisdom throughout my time at FSU and encouraged me to pursue opportunities I thought were out of reach.

Justina Jones, a former CARE staff member, guided and motivated me to persevere in times of difficulty; I am grateful for the time she took out of her day to check in on or listen to me.

Faculty in the Department of Anthropology such as assistant professor Vincent Joos and associate professor Elizabeth Peters inspired me to pursue anthropology as a profession. Hopefully, one day I’ll have the privilege to teach the next generation and have them teach me.

I would like to thank sociology doctoral candidate TehQuin Forbes for helping me start my research journey and allowing me to work alongside him on projects that focus on marginalized communities connected to me such as the LGBTQIA+ community.

What on-campus resources/departments or offices have helped prepare you for academic success?

The Office of National Fellowships, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement, the Center for Global Engagement, and the Center for Leadership and Social Change have given me support and skills to succeed as a future educator. The entire CARE team helped me progress through this stage of life more than they will ever know.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing schoolwork or research?

I enjoy volunteering and working with the Center for Leadership and Social Change. I love teaching. I am going into my second year of teaching research as an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program leader for the 2019-20 UROP student cohort. I also enjoy learning new languages with Vietnamese being my current language of study.

After graduating, what are your plans? Although you might miss FSU, what are you looking forward to in your post-graduate life?

I plan to continue serving by joining the Peace Corps. After the Peace Corps, I will pursue a master’s degree in public health and then a Ph.D. in anthropology. I hope to teach anthropology at the collegiate level while also serving communities nationally and abroad.

What advice do you have for fellow students?

Let your passions and interests guide you, and find something you truly care about. Push past trepidations and trust yourself; you know yourself better than you think. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always something else. Remember: You can’t always achieve your goals alone; someone is out there to help you, but you have to make your ambitions known.