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From Indiana Jones to Teotihuacan, anthropology grad follows her passion

Molly Corr holding a vessel from the excavation site Tel Abel Beth Maacah in Northern Israel.

Molly Corr holding a vessel from the excavation site Tel Abel Beth Maacah in northern Israel.

April 29, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Often, when people find their true passion, they can point back to one or two experiences that started it all. The catalyst for Molly Corr’s love of archaeology was viewing her first Indiana Jones movie. Although she admits Indy “may have exaggerated a bit,” she was instantly fascinated with the idea of experiencing new cultures and uncovering ancient artifacts.

Corr, from Yuma, Arizona, is now graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Though the movie spurred her initial interest in archaeology, she credits a memorable experience at ASU Open Door with solidifying her passion. She fondly recalls meeting Professor Michael E. Smith at the event. He leads the Teotihuacan Research Laboratory and he showed Corr the ancient figurine heads he had uncovered in Teotihuacan.

She remembers the moment feeling surreal, thinking that an individual alive thousands of years ago had created the figurine that was now in her hands. From that moment on, she “ate, slept and breathed archaeology.”

Corr received the school’s Undergraduate Research Award and the Early Outreach Scholarship.

She shared more about her time spent at ASU, and her plans to continue studying anthropology in the fall.

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I have been an ASU baby from the start. My mom graduated from ASU and I have been going to ASU football games for as long as I can remember. ASU has one of the best programs in the nation for anthropology, so how could I say no? In addition, the school has a strong Mesoamerican focus which is exactly what I am interested in. When I take classes at ASU, I know I am learning from some of the best in the field.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: First, Professor Mike Smith has taught me that it is OK to fail at first, and I must get back up and try again. He also taught me that critique is necessary in order to grow as a scholar. Second, Associate Professor Matthew Peeples’s classes have taught me that classes are most effective when they are taught by someone who is passionate about their subject. I appreciate the way he teaches, and I aim to incorporate the same level of passion when I become a professor.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I would recommend getting involved in every way you can. You never know what club meeting, event or conference will open doors of opportunity for yourself. Staying involved with the school allowed me to shape what interests I had and how to pursue them. You can meet some amazing people when you get involved with what you’re passionate about.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: My favorite spot on campus would have to be the School of Human Evolution and Social Change lobby. Every time I visit, the Innovation Gallery has a new exhibit based on research. The different exhibit themes allow me to take a step back and learn what others are researching and it reminds me that the school is full of diverse interests and perspectives. The lobby gives me a nice and quiet space to study.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be continuing my journey as a Sun Devil, starting the anthropology doctoral program in the fall! The graduate program at ASU is full of amazing faculty and students who are making great strides in academia, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

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