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Archaeology, Students, Convocation
Graduand’s resilience and hands-on experience pave way for career in excavation and museum heritage management
Following in the footsteps of her parents, grandmother, uncle, and cousin, new alumnus Veronica Jeske is the most recent of her family to graduate from Simon Fraser University. But if you ask Veronica, she’ll tell you coming to SFU wasn’t about carrying on family tradition. “It was the Department of Archaeology and the Faculty of Environment that drew me to SFU,” she says.
Veronica has always been interested in history and culture. In the past she liked learning traditional dance forms, including Hawaiian and Maori dances. And as the kid digging in the dirt instead of playing on the playground, she knew from a young age she wanted to be an archaeologist.
At SFU, Veronica has assisted with artifact displays, documentation, and handling as a volunteer at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. She also had the opportunity to examine human-environment connections from early Indigenous settlements at an archeological field school in Curacao this summer.
Veronica says her courses in archaeology, cultural resource management, and Indigenous studies have given her a new appreciation for the way artifacts help inform our understanding of culture in the present. Learning about Indigenous perspectives on cultural heritage has also impacted her career trajectory. “SFU has taught me the importance of protecting Indigenous traditional knowledge,” she says. “As someone who looks forward to careers in archeological excavation and museum heritage management, I intend to uphold those values and practices.”
The past few years have been an exercise in resiliency and adaptability for Veronica. Not only did she adjust to online learning during the pandemic, she and her family also lost their home in a fire during this time. Amid these challenges, she persevered with the support of faculty and student services and was still able to thrive academically.
She’s now working as an intern at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford and planning on pursuing a masters in heritage and museum studies. “Museum practices are under critical review globally, and I would like to be part of their transformation towards conscientious heritage management and education,” she explains.
Veronica is grateful to those who supported her when she needed it, and proud of what she achieved. She’s gained confidence in her ability to handle obstacles and wants others to know they can too. “Don’t be afraid to run after your dream,” she says. “Even if you must jump over hurdles – keep going.”