Becky Vandewalle ′12
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Major: Greek and Roman Studies
Fun fact: "When I was a kid, I would make maps of my backyard. If I had a novel that didn’t come with a map, I would make one for it."
What were you looking for in Rhodes?
I wanted to come to a small school where I could actually talk to my professors—unlike at my high school, which had a graduating class of 800. I chose Rhodes because it was inviting, and I felt I could find something here. A lot of people pick their school based on what they want to do, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, so I picked Rhodes because it has a lot of options and opportunities. I knew I was interested in art and art history, and I was thinking about a studio art major, but that’s not quite where I ended up.
And what did you find?
I decided that I really liked art history, but I prefer ancient art history to modern art history; I really like anything ancient. I also enjoy mapping and archaeology, so I was trying to do a kind of create-your-own archaeology major. Then I looked at the Greek and Roman Studies Department and had a “whoa” moment. The concentration in Material Culture, which requires courses in archaeology methods, art history, history and Greek or Latin, basically is an archaeology major. It’s just not called that. I am also working towards minors in Art and Archaeology. Altogether, my course work has helped me to concentrate my interests, focusing on archaeology, ancient history, geography and technology.
Has Rhodes enabled you to fulfill your growing interests?
Since my discovery of the Classics major, I have been able to successfully integrate my interests, course work, summer activities and even my campus job. I’ve done two seasons of archaeological field work at Ames Plantation, digging up artifacts and mapping them with GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a collection of hardware and software used to organize and display spatial data. I found a job on campus in the GIS lab, and I’ve been doing all kinds of exciting projects with that. I really enjoy helping students use GIS for projects relating to many different fields, from analyzing population patterns to classifying geographic features to tracking animal behaviors.
Last year I presented an independent GIS research project at URCAS, detailing how I created an interface to display archaeological data from the excavation at Ames so that any interested student could explore the results of the fieldwork from their computer with Google Earth. I will be presenting this work at a professional GIS conference. I’m actually doing another similar project now, surveying the campus and analyzing the spatial distribution, visibility and intervisibility of monuments around Rhodes to explore their symbolic relationship with each other and to the greater campus landscape.