Tracy Harwood Jenkins
Tracy Jenkins is a PhD candidate in anthropology. He is a Graduate School Flagship Fellow and a graduate assistant in the Department of Anthropology.
Jenkins’s research focuses on the archaeology of community formation in “The Hill,” a 200-year-old free African-American neighborhood in Easton, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. As a member of an interdisciplinary team that studies the past to inform community preservation and revitalization efforts in the present, Jenkins wants to change the game of gentrification. His advisor is Professor Mark Leone.
Jenkins was a student in the Graduate School’s joint graduate seminar and research project on Frederick Douglass with University College Cork in Ireland. Jenkins has contributed the essay, “Allies and Intersections: Frederick Douglass and the Knitting Together of Progressive Movements,” to Atlantic Crossings, a book manuscript resulting from this seminar currently under review for publication.
Jenkins holds a Master's of Applied Anthropology from UMD and a BA (summa cum laude) in Anthropology and History from the College of William and Mary. He has presented his research at the Society for Historical Archaeology annual conference and the Archaeology of Slavery in the Chesapeake Region symposium.
How would you describe your graduate experience at the University of Maryland?
I came to the University of Maryland to work on a community-driven project-- a rare opportunity in archaeology. Because I work for a community, at their invitation, my job as a graduate student is to acquire skills, such as social theory and new techniques for analyzing data, I need to be able to better inform our understanding of the past. At the University of Maryland, I have been surrounded by professors and students who constantly teach me how much I have to learn. In our really tight-knit Department of Anthropology, I've learned as much from my fellow graduate students as from my professors. I've become more self-aware and self-critical of my own limitations, which is especially important since I write history that properly belongs to others.
How has the Graduate School and your graduate program supported your efforts?
I've been tremendously lucky to be supported in my studies by a Flagship Fellowship from the Graduate School and a part-time graduate assistantship from the Department of Anthropology. My assistantship has also given me the opportunity to teach, which has been a most rewarding experience. I've also benefited from the leadership of several professors for whom I've been a TA, who have showed me a new side of teaching and taught me some lessons I'll be able to take with me when I teach my own classes.
My advisor, Mark Leone, has been a wonderful mentor. He constantly pushes me to think further and his political savvy has saved me several times in working with the public. He also ensures we have the resources we need to complete our work, enabling me to set up an iron conservation unit in the lab and making sure we have the computing power we need for GIS analysis.
Why did you choose the University of Maryland?
I came to the University of Maryland to work in a really first-rate anthropology department that was unafraid to engage projects tackling some of the most entrenched problems in our society. Particularly strong in critical theory, our department works on race, class, gender, and other issues. I chose UMD because I wanted help people see past the celebratory tone that so often surrounds history and culture.
Why should others choose the University of Maryland?
Maryland is a socially-conscious campus dedicated to solving real-world problems. It challenges the way you think and see yourself in the world, whether that challenge comes from professors or fellow students.
Why is graduate education important?
As undergraduates we begin to see the possibilities of where our interests can take us. So many things seem exciting, and we try out different fields of study, different perspectives. As graduate students, we focus on mastering bodies of knowledge and practice that enable us to become effective scholars. We identify and learn the skills needed to accomplish our research and professional goals.
What is graduate education at UMD all about?
Challenging ourselves to become more than we are, never satisfied with knowing a little.