Meet Holley G., rookie

Holley Gilmour

  • Expert Role: Rookie
  • Major: Human Biology
  • Class: Graduate Student
  • Hometown: Bellingham, WA
  • (May 2019 Team)
Team member Holley

Why is this humanitarian work important to you?

Humanitarian work has intrigued me for many years. Being a child of immigrants, I understand to an extent what if feels like to not have contact with family members. That being said, what migrants go through at the Mexican border is far worse than loss of contact with family. Every person should be entitled to basic human rights, and unfortunately this is not the case in some places. This humanitarian crisis deeply saddens me and I hope by going to Texas I can contribute positively to this situation.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

I hope to gain a better understanding of what the individuals crossing the Mexican border have to go through in their journey. We hear about the harsh environment that these individuals navigate through, but I don’t believe words can express what their travels entail. I also hope to gain insight on the sociopolitical environment in South Texas. Being so displaced from Mexico, it can be difficult to grasp the complexity of this humanitarian crisis as well as the viewpoints of all the parties involved.  This trip will not only test me as an anthropologist, but also as a human being. I am looking forward to the experiences and insights this trip will bring.

What are some of the biggest challenges you will face while in Texas?

Going to Texas will bring many challenges which I do not encounter in everyday life. I believe one of the biggest challenges will be adjusting to the high heat and humidity. Being from Washington, I am unfamiliar with the various organisms living in the Texas terrain which will challenge me to take in every detail within the environment.

What’s one thing people probably don’t know about you until they’ve known you a long time?

I have dual-citizenship in the United States and New Zealand! Both of my parents are from New Zealand and moved here a year before I was born. After my brother was born, we moved back to New Zealand for a few years and then eventually moved back to my hometown.

When did you know you wanted to pursue human biology as a degree, and how did you become interested in forensics?

I knew I wanted to go into forensic anthropology around the age of twelve, although I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue the field until I started college. While in community college I took classes with a biological anthropologist who inspired me to continue within the field of biological anthropology. Along with taking almost every course in anthropology that my college had to offer, I took introductory classes in biology and chemistry, which expanded on the courses I had taken in high school. When I transferred to university, I went straight into a heavy schedule of biology and chemistry courses. This is the time where I discovered my passion for science extended beyond forensic anthropology. I became enamored with chemistry and anatomy and found myself enjoying my education more than ever. Although I had always known I wanted to continue my education, the courses I took in my undergrad pointed my interests in the human biology direction and strengthened my interest in forensic anthropology.

What advice would you give other students interested in pursuing a human biology degree at UIndy?

I would say it is important to take as many science courses as possible. I came into this program with a heavy science background and a decent anthropology background. So far, I have found that many of the classes we take are heavily scientifically centered. I think my biology and chemistry background has helped in understanding and solidifying the information taught within our classes and I would definitely recommend having a few biology courses under your belt when you apply! That being said, taking anthropology classes has also proved useful in many, if not all, of our courses. Being able to take an anthropological approach to biology allows for a more comprehensive understanding of topics ranging from evolutionary development to clinical application.

What makes UIndy’s human biology program distinctive?

UIndy’s human biology program is distinctive because it takes a holistic approach to forensic anthropology, genetics, and anatomy. As students, we have so many opportunities to expand our knowledge while participating in active forensic casework. Our professors are not required to let students participate in forensic casework, yet they actively want us to be involved in every way that we are able. Through our program we not only learn, but are given the opportunity of invaluable experience that will prepare us for a continued future in the field of forensic anthropology or human biology.