ASU graduate combines her love of history, artifacts

Schreiner working in Boncuklu

Morgen Julia Schreiner working in what is known as Trench M West Deep at Boncuklu in Turkey. This is the oldest known portion of the site. Photo courtesy of Morgen Julia Schreiner


Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Even while working full time, ASU Online student Morgen Julia Schreiner became involved in labs, attended field school and found her passion. 

Her love of ancient things started as a young child growing up in Gnadenhutten, Ohio. 

“There is a lot of history there, and I grew up on a farm where we would till the land and I would find little artifacts and arrowheads,” Schreiner said. “Obviously, I didn't know what to do with those cultural items at the time, but I collected them as a child and I loved holding them and thinking about the person who made them and what that life would have been like back then.”

Schreiner is graduating this fall with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. She is a first-generation college graduate. 

She first attended Arizona State University in 2008 but took a break after facing some health issues. Schreiner moved from Phoenix to Seattle and started working full time. After completing an associate degree in anthropology, she wanted to continue. 

“I came back to ASU because most of my credits were there, it's online, it was a good option, I'm familiar with the university and it feels like home,” Schreiner said. 

Since enrolling in her undergraduate programs, Schreiner helped start the Undergraduate Anthropology Association Online chapter and traveled to Turkey for six weeks this summer to participate in a field school. 

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: To work with others and celebrate all victories. With ASU being such a large institution, there are nearly endless possibilities. Working with other students and celebrating their victories and opportunities instead of in competition with them has brought me greater success than only looking out for myself ever has. 

Q: Did you participate in research programs while being an ASU Online student? 

A: For the past year I have been in a research apprenticeship with graduate student Caitlin Wichlacz and (School of Human Evolution and Social Change) Associate Professor Mathew Peeples. We are studying a lot of ceramics in the Phoenix basin. It’s been an amazing experience to work with Caitlin. She found me an opportunity for a cultural resource management field tech training. I would recommend the Research Apprenticeship Program to anyone. If you are an anthropology major, it can fulfill several different credits. It’s actual hands-on experience, and it made me feel more connected to the university. 

Schreiner is wet sieving dirt excavated from a trench in Boncuklu

Morgen Julia Schreiner wet-sieves dirt excavated from Trench M at Boncuklu. Photo courtesy of Morgen Julia Schreiner

Q: What was a memorable experience during your undergraduate career? 

A: I have a friend who lives in Turkey, and I’ve always wanted to visit but it just never happened. So I applied and I was accepted into an external field school program, and from July to August I was in Turkey. The field school is near Konya, which is in central Turkey. The whole experience was really cool, but fieldwork is hard, especially when you are at the start of a dig. The site is called Boncuklu. It is a site that is contemporary but the predecessor of the UNESCO World Heritage site called Çatalhöyük. The site is Neolithic, and we were trying to get an understanding of the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural lifestyles. The trench I was excavating had the oldest structures at this site. I was also excavating near what is the oldest known public open-air toilet in history. 

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

A: It's not always easy to finish, and sometimes you feel like you're tired, or you just need a break. It's OK to take a break. If you need to give yourself that grace, you're not a failure — but it’s also worth it when you get to the end. Also, you’re never too old. I am 32, so you’re never too old and you can always go back. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am applying for graduate school right now. Artifact conservation and cultural conservation is more the route I think I want to take.

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