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1970s Anthropology Alumni Stories

Franco R. Benedict

Frank graduated in 1978 and spent two years in southeast Asia working on oil rigs from 1980 to 1982. He lived and worked in Singapore, various parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, the South China Sea, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. For about two decades Frank has worked in the telecom industry as a Terrestrial Microwave Communications Engineer. When he got back from Asia, he lived in northern Virginia before moving to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Frank has been able to telecommute and work from home for the last few years and only go into the office about once a month. Most of his family still lives in Campbell County, Kentucky, and he gets home three or four times a year for visits.  Frank writes, “I work for a telecommunications engineering services company. I help design and license terrestrial microwave communication links that carry all your cell phone activities.”

Thomas Cheslock

Tom has continued to work for the nearby Florence Police Department.

Thomas C. Donnelly

A 1978 grad and a winner of the Outstanding Student in Anthropology Award, Tom got his MA in applied anthropology from the University of Kentucky and his JD in law from the University of Cincinnati. He is now an attorney with his own practice. As a lawyer and anthropologist, he has handled legal cases involving issues of American Indian religious freedoms. Tom served as the 1997-98 President of the NKU Alumni Association and as both the third and fifth President of the NKU Anthropology Alumni Club. He has taught both anthropology and law part-time at NKU. He has spoken at an NKU Anthropology Careers Day, and in 1992 he won the NKU Alumni Association's Special Recognition Award. In addition to practicing law, Tom has achieved a lifelong dream and become an athletic director, first at Clark Montessori Junior/Senior High School and now at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati.

Nick G. Fritz

Nick works in the travel industry and divides his time between the USA and Holland.

William E. Penick

A 1976 grad and the very first winner of the NKU Outstanding Student in Anthropology Award, Bill went on to get his MA in anthropology from the University of Missouri. His career was in social services, as social worker and administrator in juvenile justice, foster care, and child protection services for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Gregory E. Rust

A 1979 grad of NKU Anthropology and a winner of the Outstanding Student in Anthropology Award, Greg is the photographer for Xavier University, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Greg still pursues his Native American photography, especially among the Lakota Sioux. During the summer of 1998, Greg traveled to Minnesota to attend the Sun Dance to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In 1999 he did ethno-photography in Nepal. Greg published a collection of his photos of Nicaragua in "Lessons from Another World" in the summer 1998 edition of the Magazine of Xavier University.

Greg writes, "Just wanted to show how I've put my anthro degree to good use."

He has spoken at the NKU Anthropology Careers Day, and in 2000 the NKU Alumni Association presented Greg with the Professional Achievement Award. In 2002 he hosted another exhibit of his photos at XU, this one titled "Images from Nicaragua and Guatemala." In 2003 Greg spoke at NKU as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Success Series. In 2005 Greg had yet another exhibit of his photos at XU, this time on Ghana.  In 2015 he spoke at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, and his photo exhibit on Cuba runs through the end of 2015. 

Rita A. Vanover

A 1978 grad, Rita got her JD degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Mark J. Wagner

Mark Wagner received his BA degree in Anthropology from NKU in 1974. From 1976 to 1980 he was a graduate student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) where he received his MA degree in archaeology in 1980. From 1980 to 1982 he was an archaeologist with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), reviewing thousands of projects in Illinois for their potential effect on archaeological resources. From 1982 to 1992 he worked for a private cultural resources in Illinois, conducting large scale investigations of both prehistoric and historic period archaeological sites within the state. Since 1992 he has worked for Southern Illinois University Carbondale (where he received his PhD in Anthropology in 2010). He is currently a tenured Associate Professor in Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations (CAI) at SIUC. The CAI is a 40 year old research institute that has conducted archaeological research around the world including eastern North America, the southwestern United States, MesoAmerica, Puerto Rico, and the Marianas Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

His current research interests include the Native American rock art of Illinois; late eighteenth/early nineteenth century culture contact between Native American peoples and Euro-American settlers along the Illinois frontier; Diaspora archaeology; the Cherokee Trail of Tears in Illinois; Civil War archaeology and French and American colonial and military archaeology in Illinois. He is currently directing the SIUC archaeological field school in the excavation of two fort sites (both named Ft. Kaskaskia), one of which is a 1750s French for associated with the French colonial occupation of Illinois while the other is a short-lived (1803-1807) American fort associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He also is the current President of the Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA) and former president and current board member of the Illinois Archaeological Survey (IAS), the organization of professional archaeologists within Illinois.

As Director of the CAI, he supervises a small staff of professional archaeologists, students, and interns in applied archaeology projects for state and federal agencies within Illinois. The CAI is currently conducting research for the USDA Forest Service in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri including documenting Cherokee Trail of Tears routes in Missouri. An upcoming project for the Illinois Army National Guard (ILARNG) will involve locating graves and possibly conducting excavation and removal of individuals within an abandoned cemetery located on ILARNG property prior to waterline construction. The CAI also is currently involved in repatriating archaeological materials to the Navajo and Hopi that were recovered as the result of the Black Mesa archaeological project investigations in the 1980s in Arizona. The CAI is particularly active in giving undergraduate and graduate students experience in applied archaeology projects including archaeological survey, test excavation, GIS, and GPR and gradiometric remote sensing technologies to prepare them for jobs with state, federal, and private agencies after graduation