Main Navigation

Humans of the U: Arcia Tecun

“I earned my undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Utah. I then earned my master’s degree from the U’s Department of Education, Culture & Society, which is where I now teach. I completed my Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Auckland. I came back to Utah after living in Aotearoa-New Zealand for about a decade due to the family ties I have here. 

I am a first-generation “uni” student and graduate. I didn’t think I would earn an undergraduate degree, let alone complete a Ph.D. and go on to teach. I have always been interested in working in the community I came from. Right now, I’m in a unique moment where I have the opportunity to teach at a place I am an alum of. This is something I wish our society valued more. 

After I completed my Ph.D., I taught for five years in New Zealand. I loved the Kiwi students I taught, however, they were in a different context than the one I was raised in. Coming back to Utah and teaching here lets me connect to students in different ways, especially when it comes to students who have deep roots in the state. Our shared context offers us opportunities to learn through locally shared connections. I think the value of this is often overlooked. 

There are people in my life who point out when I am a bit of a pessimist, however, when I come out of class, I have critical hope because of the way students are thinking. It’s always great to see great minds applying themselves and sharing unique perspectives. It fuels the work I do.

I hope when students from similar communities and backgrounds as me see where I am at, it will help them imagine bigger futures for themselves. I think about what that would have been like for me if I had had it earlier on. The rare few times in my academic life that I have had those experiences they were very impactful. I hope I will be able to offer that in return to other students. I hope the university and others will see the benefits this has and think about what we can do to help more people come back and work in their communities. I want people to think about what it means to go and see the world and then bring what you have learned home.”

— Arcia Tecun, adjunct instructor in the Department of Education, Society & Culture