Salve Success: Alejandra Garcia-Silva ’23, receives scholarship from the Society for American Archeology
Alejandra Garcia-Silva ’23, a double major in cultural and historic preservation (CHP) and American history, was one of only six students to receive a scholarship this year from the Society for American Archeology (SAA).
Utilizing this scholarship has given her incredible academic opportunities during 2022, and she’s been sharing her experiences with the larger Salve Regina community.
A love of cultural and historic preservation
Garcia-Silva applied for the scholarship after the encouragement of Dr. Heather Rockwell, assistant professor in the Department of Cultural and Historic Preservation. Garcia-Silva has been Dr. Rockwell’s work study student for both her junior and senior years, and she knew that Dr. Rockwell was hosting an archeological field school in Maine during the summer of 2022.
Garcia-Silva was really hoping to be able to go, and the Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship (SAA HUGS) gave her that opportunity. SAA HUGS was created in 2010 to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities obtaining a degree in archeology, and it helps fund archeological training and participation in a research program for minority students.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it. I just put in my two cents, and when I got that email it was a really great day,” Garcia-Silva said. “I ended up going to Chicago to the SAA’s Annual Meeting to accept the award, and I got to meet a bunch of archeologists that were at the top of their fields right now. So it was a really great experience.”
The SAA HUGS scholarship paid for Garcia-Silva to go on Dr. Rockwell’s field school trip to Main during the summer of 2022. On this month-long trip into the northern Maine woods, Garcia-Silva was able to work on an actual archeological field site. While there, she looked for Paleolithic sites and learned how to excavate properly. She gained a lot of new experiential knowledge, and there was also time for a lot of fun on the trip as well.
“My favorite memory from this trip was playing Uno with my classmates and archeologists,” laughed Garcia-Silva.
Presenting at Salve Regina’s CHP Conference
As Garcia-Silva continues to advocate for her love of archeology with others, she recently presented at Salve Regina’s fall 2022 Cultural and Historic Preservation Conference. The CHP conference had been on hiatus due to the pandemic, so it was particularly special to be able to participate in it and present at during her senior year.
“My research is based on how to combine the old with the new,” said Garcia-Silva. “So I’m asking, ‘How can we use advances in technology to preserve and protect artifacts?’”
One way Garcia-Silva combines both the old and new is through her CHP field work. She is currently working on digitizing the maps for a cemetery located in Middletown, Rhode Island.
“We’re putting in all the data and digitizing their historical maps, so it’ll be kind of a point and click situation,” explained Garcia-Silva. “You can just click on a grave on a map, and you can see who’s buried there.”
Celebrating Salve Regina’s 75th
Garcia-Silva believes that it’s particularly exciting to be graduating in 2023, because Salve Regina is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. She is thrilled to be a part of such a historical moment on campus.
“We get to look back on those 75 years in a way that complements my majors,” said Garcia-Silva. “We will be doing an archeological dig on campus for the anniversary to see what was here before Salve Regina.”
Garcia-Silva is also very involved on campus. She is the president of the Cultural and Historic Preservation Club and she is part of the Pell Honors Program. She’s also participated in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program through the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy during her junior year, a program that focuses on developing leaders for future generations.
“During the Nuala Pell Leadership Program, we got to meet a lot of speakers that were leaders in their own areas,” Garcia-Silva described. “We were able to go to Washington, D.C., and we got to meet a bunch of senators and congressman and their aids …. So it was really cool to see everybody.”
Following graduation, Garcia-Silva will be continuing her education by getting a master’s degree in museum studies. She is hoping to someday settle in Washington, D.C. where she can continue to advance in her career.
“I always liked putting on exhibitions,” said Garcia-Silva. “Curations for museums or things like that was always what I wanted to do ever since I graduated high school.”
Article written by student writer Amanda Graves ’23
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.