Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology

Alumni Stories

Take a look at what some of our Loyola Anthropology alumni have gone on to do after graduation!

Liz Bajjalieh ('16) Participating with AmeriCorps' City Year Following Graduation

Liz Bajjalieh is currently living in Miami, Florida where she is doing a year of service with City Year. As she writes, “City Year is an AmeriCorps program where young adults do a year of service tutoring and mentoring high need elementary, middle, and high school students on Math and English. Part of our work is also managing their attendance and behavioral health, with hopes to decrease the school drop-out rate in low income communities.”

John Maniatis ('97) Works as Registrar at the First Division Museum at Cantigny

John's reflections on his career path: "I always say to myself how lucky I am to get paid to work in a museum. I love my work. I love learning on a daily basis, with the intent of turning that knowledge into a product. The kind that a visitor to my museum can walk away with and enrich their lives. There is always a path to the job you love. You just have to put the map away at times and see where the path takes you.

"In college I majored in Anthropology and Classical Civilization…bones and stones. Fast forward twenty years and here I am cataloguing 20th Century militaria. Most all of the artifacts that cross my desk as Registrar at a military museum are mass produced. They are green, brown, made of cloth or metal. Occasionally they have been blown up. In some cases, the original owner died wearing/holding the object. In those cases, the job can be sobering.

"One thing for sure, work it is never dull. But it is a far cry from what I thought I would be doing. In fact, after Loyola, I volunteered [and ultimately worked at, twice] the Field Museum. I worked on an excavation for a couple of summers in the Ancient Agora in Athens, Greece. I let myself wander a bit. I tried different jobs on the same career path. At the Field Museum I worked for the Registrar, using my Osteology skills from Dr. Grauer’s classes to inventory the human remains collection at the museum. Even though the collection had been there for decades, there were gaps in their records that they needed help filling in.

"Working at the Field Museum, and being mentored by a top notch Registrar, pointed me in my current direction on my career path. I proceeded to get my Master’s degree at The George Washington University in Museum Studies. Studying how museums work in a city like Washington DC, was perfect. You study under the professionals that ultimately become your colleagues. Out of school I was hired onto an artifact move project at Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, playing a part in moving roughly 20,000 artifacts a month from NYC to Washington DC. A few years later, I was on a similar artifact move project back at the Field Museum.

"In 2006, I began working at the First Division Museum at Cantigny. Where I am today began in many ways in the classrooms at Loyola. That is where I picked up my career map. Along the way, I stopped off at many roadside attractions: Athens; The Field Museum; GWU; NMAI and FDM, learned a few things and moved on. Each of these experiences were quite different, yet on that same path.

Chris Biersdorf ('14) Hired as Animal Keeper at Shedd Aquarium

In the year following graduation, Chris took a job as animal keeper at Shedd Aquarium. Prior to that, he worked at Lincoln Park Zoo's Farm-in-the-Zoo in a seasonal animal husbandry position while also maintaining an internship at the Ape House, which his Loyola Anthropology connections made possible.

Reflecting on his post-grad work experiences, Chris said in 2015: "I have obviously veered from the path that I originally intended to go down, but I am extremely happy with the career I have chosen to pursue. I don't know if I would have ever truly discovered my passion for animal husbandry had it not been for the internship. I think that my journey is a testament to the holistic nature of anthropology and the possibility of applying the field to a wide array of careers. I am excited to be a part of the ever-changing field of animal husbandry and to provide new insights that might better the lives of captive animals."