Student Spotlight: Charlie Azzarito

| Thu, 09/28/23
Charlie Azzarito, a junior double majoring in anthropology and sociology.
Charlie Azzarito, a junior double majoring in anthropology and sociology. Photo by Amy Walden.

Charlie Azzarito is a junior double majoring in anthropology through the Department of Anthropology, part of Florida State University’s College of Arts and Sciences and sociology through the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. Azzarito recently won the 2023 Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for his underwater archeology work. He is a member of the FSU Honors Program and the Honors Legal Scholars Program and has plans to graduate in Spring 2025.

Tell us a little about your background, where you’re from and what brought you to FSU.

I grew up in south Orlando, Florida, near the downtown area, but I spent the last couple years of high school in Broward County, Florida. FSU was the only university I applied to in Florida, and it offered me a scholarship alongside entry to the FSU Honors Program and Honors Legal Scholars Program. These were my biggest drivers for choosing FSU, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

What inspired you to pursue your areas of study?

I came to FSU planning to become a standard pre-law student. I picked sociology as my first major because I took a course in high school and loved how it changed my perspective on how the world worked. I added anthropology as a second major because it sounded interesting, but as I entered the actual course work, I became excited to learn about archaeology. When I realized FSU had a high-quality underwater archaeology program for undergraduates, I decided to go for it.

What aspect of your areas of study do you find most rewarding or interesting?

Thanks to the incredible faculty I’ve worked with so far, geoarchaeology, which is a multidisciplinary approach to archaeology that incorporates geography and geology, is very interesting to me. I like studying how an archeological site forms, what a landscape might have looked like in the past, and how humans may have used it. It’s crazy how one part of an archaeological record can tell us so much about a past environment. I am looking forward to pursuing more environmental archaeology as I move forward in my academic career.

What has been your favorite project or academic experience at FSU so far?

The dive classes I took at FSU’s Panama City campus for my underwater archeology training were very cool. I met a lot of awesome people and went on interesting field trips. I loved integrating into this large yet tight-knit community of people with so many different backgrounds and academic interests. The training was extremely interdisciplinary, and the students reflected that, so learning about various students’ hopes and plans for underwater careers was really rewarding.

What on-campus resources have you utilized most during your time at FSU?

I like the on-campus study spaces! I try to keep work and home separate, so I usually do the most homework on FSU’s campus. Dodd Hall is by far the best study spot.

Are there any faculty or staff who have helped or inspired you? Why/how so?

Assistant professor of anthropology Jessi Halligan has been one of my biggest inspirations. Without her guidance, I wouldn’t know about the field of underwater archaeology nor have gained the hands-on experiences that her field school provided me. The Advanced Science Diving Program at FSU Panama City was also a huge help in securing my certifications and dive experiences, so I have dive safety officer Adam Wendt, dive locker supervisor Darren DeDario, and ASDP director Mark Feulner to thank. Lastly, many of the Honors Program faculty have been very helpful in writing letters of recommendation for scholarships and research opportunities I have received.

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

I like being outside, so almost any outdoor activity sounds fun to me. This summer, I’ve been diving, wakeboarding, hiking, and off-roading. I’ve also been learning to kiteboard and have started rock climbing.

What advice do you have for fellow students?

Don’t get in your own way. When you’re applying for an opportunity, don’t stop yourself just because you think other students would be “more qualified” for the position. They say comparison is the thief of joy, but it can also be the thief of awesome opportunities, so trust your own success. If you feel you might not be qualified enough, apply anyway and leave that decision up to the selection committee!

Following your graduation, what are your plans? Although you might miss FSU, what are you looking forward to after graduation?

Eventually, I want to attend graduate school. In an ideal world, I would like to participate in a joint-degree program where I can earn my Juris Doctor alongside a master’s or doctoral degree. After graduation, I’m looking forward to the doors that my degree will open. So many archaeology and legal opportunities I’m interested in list a bachelor's degree as the minimum qualification, so I look forward to applying to those opportunities once I’m finished at FSU.