Interview with Cara Golden, recent IDSC graduate
Would you please tell us about yourself? (where you're from, how you chose to attend Auburn, and how you chose your emphases within the IDSC major?)
I am from Montgomery, Alabama. When I was looking into which college I wanted to attend for my undergraduate degree, attending Auburn University ultimately made the most sense – both financially and academically. I originally started out in the Marine Biology degree, and I appreciated how this program at Auburn is very versatile – basically a Biology degree with sixteen hours spread over the course of two summers spent focusing on Marine systems. So, I spent the first four years of my time here working to achieve the Marine Biology degree. When I realized my ultimate calling to be a Christian missionary, I changed my major to Interdisciplinary Studies and chose Anthropology as my second emphasis area. Both Biology and Anthropology inform my long-term goals as a missionary working specifically with Native and Indigenous peoples.
What has your experience as a student at Auburn been like? (What activities are you involved in/with? And why/how did you choose them?)
I spent much of my time outside of classes at Auburn working. For the first four years, I worked at the RBD Library as a Library Aide in the Government Documents Department, which was very interesting. I was also involved for a year or so with the Christian sorority, Sigma Pi Lambda, and served for about two or three years, on and off, with the Community Market in Opelika.
What has been your favorite class, and why?
I have enjoyed several of my courses, particularly the time I spent at Dauphin Island taking Marine Invertebrate Zoology and Marine Vertebrate Zoology. The island is now one of my favorite places in Alabama; it holds many memories of time I was able to spend and friends I was able to make with people from other Universities pursing the same major as I was. Also, the course work there was interactive and largely lab-based, which I enjoyed immensely. Here at Auburn, I really enjoyed the Peoples and Cultures of Asia class I took in Fall of 2017. It was the first class I took that really began to broaden my perspectives on the importance of language to culture and culture to language, especially as a person desiring to pursue cross-cultural mission work.
What do you want to do when you graduate from Auburn?
Upon my graduation this December (2018), I plan to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma and pursue a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. I chose Tulsa because of its proximity to the Osage Reservation, much in the same way that Riverton, the site of my internship last summer, was adjacent to the Wind River Reservation.
Do you think your education and experiences in Interdisciplinary Studies have prepared you for success? (if so, how?)
The required courses for the interdisciplinary studies major provided greatly for my future success. In the Life, Career and Everything course I took in Fall 2017, we were required to call people who were actively working in the field we aspired to. For me, this meant making some of the first phone calls I had ever made to people who were active in the mission field working with Native and Indigenous peoples. I learned so much from that experience, and there have been many other unexpected instances like that in the other courses required by the IDSC curriculum.
You had an interesting internship experience last summer. Could you tell us about it?
I completed my internship this past summer through an organization known as QuadWmi at their newest site on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Our location being a new site and being the first site on a Native American Reservation brought unique and unanticipated challenges to our work there; however, it has been one of the most formational experiences of my college career. My work was informed in crucial ways by my interests in both Biology and Anthropology. That said, my time on the Reservation better served to inform and confirm my career calling than any class I have taken. My six fellow interns and I spent much of our time Mondays through Thursdays working with Millie Friday (Arapaho), the director of the White Buffalo Youth Prevention Program (WBYPP). WBYPP works across the reservation with youth ages 11 to 24 among both the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes. Its main goal is to introduce youth to their culture and history as Native people so that they will 1) come to an understanding of whatever generational trauma may be manifest in their families and 2) realize and utilize positive, culturally beneficial means for dealing with that trauma. We worked with Horse Culture on Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoon; the program was also under the broad umbrella of prevention programs at work on the Reservation to prevent drug addictions in youth. Its main goal was to reacquaint Native Shoshone and Arapaho people to the horse. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to work with such powerful people, who have only further inspired me to achieve my goals and continue to be willing to serve and learn from them.
Is there any advice/wisdom you’d like to share with new students?
When I was just beginning at Auburn, there was a tension I felt to live up to expectations other people were imposing upon me as well as comparisons I made of myself with other people. I wanted to be as “successful” as I felt others were being during their time at college. But this way of thinking really failed me in the end and only served to double the time I spend here at Auburn trying to figure myself out. I wish someone would have told me: “Cara, just be yourself. Don’t chose a degree or career path to make others happy. Take time to get to know who you are and become open to exploring that inner voice telling you what would make you happiest on the inside. Then, go after that with everything you have and don’t look back.”
Interview by Robin Sexton
Last Updated: January 15, 2019