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Mentor program launches with mummy unwrapping

The collaboration will connect undergraduates and graduate students in Egyptology

A mummy unwrapping party marked the launch of a mentoring partnership between the Egyptology-Ancient West Asian Studies Department Undergraduate Group and the Egyptology department’s graduate students Thursday night.

Julia Troche GS said the party was fitting for a social event among undergraduates, graduates and faculty members interested in E-AWAS because Victorian Era British elites used to throw parties during which guests would unwrap a mummy in hopes of finding valuable amulets inside.

The mummy unwrapping was the first in a series of socials intended to facilitate burgeoning mentor relationships between graduates and undergraduates in the department. Other events will include a “make-your-own-cuneiform-tablet” activity and another will revolve around hieroglyphs and papyrus.

“This program complements the advising that the faculty does,” said John Steele, chairman and professor of E-AWAS, adding that graduate students can provide undergraduates with a different perspective on the discipline than faculty members can.

Troche, the graduate student who initiated the mentor program, said she sees the graduate students as the “glue in the middle” of faculty members and undergraduates. She said she hopes the program will provide undergraduates with a resource to improve both professional relationships and their knowledge of the discipline.

The program will also benefit the graduate student mentors by allowing them to improve their advising skills, an ability that will help them throughout their careers, Steele said.

The event, which featured a tissue paper mummy with Hershey’s candy bar innards, drew not only E-AWAS concentrators but also engineering and science concentrators.

“People don’t seem to take advantage of the offerings of this department,” said Jens Sannerud ’16, a computational biology concentrator. Though he does not plan to concentrate in E-AWAS, Sannerud said he enjoys the tight-knit community the Egyptology department offers.

Ariana Gunderson ’14, the leader of the E-AWAS DUG, said the department community played a role in her decision to concentrate in E-AWAS, adding that she chose the field because it is “an interdisciplinary concentration” for which “you have to look at a culture holistically.”


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