by Rebecca Hightower

Daniel Garner, a sophomore in the University of West Georgia’s anthropology program, was recently selected as the 2015 Undergraduate Paper Prize Winner for the Southern Anthropological Society. Daniel is the first UWG student to win the prestigious Paper Prize and will be recognized with a monetary award, book allotment award, and publication of his paper on the SAS website at southernanthro.org/.

Daniel Garner Wins Award at SAS Conference in AthensThe prize was announced following the Southern Anthropological Society's 50th anniversary meeting in Athens. Daniel was awarded the opportunity to present the research paper at the UWG Anthropology Spring Awards Dinner.

Daniel’s paper, titled “Identify In Transition: An Ethnographic Study Of Latin American Immigration to the United States,” began as a research project for the Peoples and Cultures of Latin America class led by Dr. Marjorie Snipes. However, he was drawn to the subject for a more personal reason.

Daniel’s research interest stemmed from his work at a local Mexican food restaurant and talking with his fellow workers.

“I chose this specific topic because I have several friends in the Latin American immigrant community, and I wanted to know more about their transition to life here in the United States,” Daniel explained.

Daniel’s research focused on identifying and examining the factors affecting the identity and social integration of people who emigrate from Latin America to the United States. He collected data through structured interviews and reviewed other scholarly work. He closely examined a variety of factors that affect immigrants who are transitioning to life within the U.S., like socioeconomic status, age, language acquisition, and country of origin.

“I found that the age at which my participants and their family members entered the United States had profound effects on their transition to life here. Immigrants who come to the United States as children easily adapt to life here because of their interactions with the American education system, which exposes them to structured instruction in the English language and regular interactions with American culture,” said Daniel. “Immigrants who come to the United States as adults do not have the same experience, and their transition to life here is far more difficult.”

Daniel explained that he majored in anthropology because of his fascination with human culture, both past and present.

“Being an anthropology major, I get to take classes in a wide range of topics, including culture, archaeology, human evolution, and language,” he said. “I’ll be in Costa Rica with the Spanish Study Abroad program for a month this summer, which will allow me to learn a lot about the culture and language of Latin America. I’m hoping to learn enough Spanish to expand my current research project.”

Posted on June 5, 2015