From the US Navy to an Archaeology DPhil at Oxford…

Leee Overmann is in her first term as an Archaeology DPhil candidate and Clarendon Scholar at Keble College. Leee joins us from the United States after a 30 year career in the US Navy and Department of Defense. Here is her story:

Leee Overmann

“My decision to apply to Oxford was motivated by the quality of the education it represented, as well as the opportunity to study abroad. My field – cognitive archaeology, the interdisciplinary application of insights from the cognitive sciences to the archaeological record and the interaction of mind and material – is relatively new and still fairly small, but some of its most visionary thinkers are currently teaching at Oxford. Beyond access to some of the field’s foremost thinkers, Oxford offered an environment where interdisciplinary studies flourish because of the way in which lectures, talks, books, expertise, and other resources are made available. Oxford’s support of the social sciences, the broad category into which cognitive archaeology falls, is significant because it creates an optimal learning environment and ensures that educational resourcing is both available and accessible. Of course, the opportunity to live and travel in England was also very exciting and not to be missed!

As a Clarendon Scholar, I believe that receiving the Scholarship confers not just the opportunity for a first-class education, but an obligation as well. That obligation is more than striving to uphold the standards of academic performance that were an undoubted factor in selection; it is also an occasion to support, in a meaningful fashion, the program that made my selection possible. My academic career is my second: I served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years in the communications-electronics branch, and I worked for the U.S. Department of Defense for another four years, first as a contractor and then as a civil servant. I am especially grateful for the programmatic vision and commitment implied in selecting non-traditional students like me into a scholarship program; the chance to help support and perhaps even expand the programs that provide such funding is extremely gratifying.

Upon graduation from Oxford – though it seems a long way off from the perspective of the third week in the first term of a three year program! – I plan to continue my research, writing, and teaching. I have been fortunate, in my brief academic career, to have published or have in press 15 journal articles and book chapters, most in top-tier publications, and I have been hired as a lecturer at a small university in the United States; I anticipate that Oxford will broaden, deepen, and hone my abilities. With the expansion of insight and improvement of skills I expect to realize through the demands of my program, I expect to make substantial contributions to the theoretical development of cognitive archaeology, as well as its endeavor to understand how humanity became the cognitive species that it is.”


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