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RCBC alumna digs in to archaeological career

Sometimes life leads you down one path only to redirect toward another. That’s exactly what happened for Rowan College at Burlington County alumna Kristen LaPorte. 

LaPorte, a first-generation college student, graduated from RCBC in 2017 with an associate degree in sociology, but it was an anthropology class that unearthed another interest and set LaPorte on a path toward an archaeology career.

“I remember going to my very first anthropology class at RCBC, and I was instantly fascinated. Anthropology is something I had never really learned about before, and I felt like it opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking,” LaPorte said. “Archaeology as a subfield of anthropology combined so many of my interests. I don't really think I chose it; I think it chose me.”

She then transferred to West Chester University of Pennsylvania where she earned a degree in anthropology, with a focus in archaeology. LaPorte made Dean’s List and graduated cum laude from both colleges. 

Kristen recently entered the workforce as an archaeological laboratory technician with AECOM, an American multinational engineering firm. In this role, she helps to clean and process artifacts when they come in from the field so that they may be cataloged and preserved. The artifacts range from prehistoric tools to historic glass, ceramics and so much more. 

LaPorte also traveled to Lancashire, England, with the Institute for Field Research, and investigated the Pendle witch trials of 1612. The trials of the Pendle witches are among the most famous in English history, and some of the best-recorded witch trials of the 17th century. While there, LaPorte and her colleagues uncovered remnants of a structure that dates to the correct time period to have been home to one of the Pendle witches. 

“I truly believe the success I am experiencing today is rooted in the excellent educational foundation I built at RCBC,” LaPorte said. “My advice to students is to be open and try everything. You never know when you might find something you love by taking a class in a subject you don’t know much about.” 

Kristen’s story is part of RCBC’s 50 stories for 50 years. In honor of the college’s 50th anniversary, RCBC is profiling students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the college community. Anyone interested in being featured can contact rcbcnews@rcbc.edu. To follow along on social media, use #RCBC50Stories.