Professor aspires for experiences

Anthropology department

An adventurer, educator, anthropologist, photographer, observer, researcher and even an adopted member of a Papua New Guinea clan, Katie Englert has lived the life of an exotic world traveler.

“I’m not all about money; I’m more about the experience and memories. You can’t take your stuff to the grave,” said Englert, a part-time anthropology professor at Northern Kentucky University.

“Materials can always be taken away, but they can’t take your memories or what’s in your heart,” she said.

Englert studied at Western Kentucky University, had an internship in Japan and obtained her masters in anthropology in Australia. Secondary education doesn’t come cheap in this country, but studying overseas doesn’t either. The expenses from traveling and studying abroad to receive her masters have added up, requiring Englert to undertake three jobs to survive and supplement her income.

“With the amount of money I owe to the government for student loans, I could buy a house,” Englert said.

Working as an adjunct employee doesn’t pay much. In addition to teaching, she also works at Trader Joe’s, a supermarket in Cincinnati, to make ends meet and, as she describes it, survive. She works an average of 35 hours a week at Trader Joe’s and says that is where the majority of her income comes from.

“Katie is an incredibly valuable resource for NKU anthropology and I wish we had more ways of rewarding her,” Sharlotte Neely, anthropology coordinator said.

Coming from a small town in Eaton, Ohio, Englert never had any intentions of pursuing a career in anthropology, focusing instead on photojournalism and writing.

“I didn’t even know what anthropology was in high school,” Englert said.

Along with teaching Cultural Anthropology, World Cultures and Race, Gender and Culture at NKU and Gateway, Englert has also taught English in Japan. She also worked in Utah as a photo journalist, and as a substitute teacher in Iowa, and studied marriage rituals in Papua New Guinea.

“I had no intentions to go into teaching,” said Englert. “I like it here and it’s a really big challenge. Being the center of attention and keeping people interested has been a huge challenge. It helps that I am really passionate about the things we discuss in class and I can offer my own relationships to the material.”

Englert’s cultural experience allows her to bring a sense of reality to her teachings and offer her students an inside look at what really happens in different cultures around the world.

“She’s an amazing professor and she really knows how to relate the material to today and what we know,” said Megan Meeker, a sophomore Criminal Justice major. “She uses everything from her studies and brings all the elements to life.”

Englert completed her last semester at an internship in Japan.

“While my friends were looking for jobs, I was learning Kanji,” Englert said.

After Japan, Englert returned to the United States, where she worked odd jobs and did some photography for newspapers around the country.

Once she had earned enough money, Englert decided to go to Australia National University to pursue her masters.

“I will often take up jobs to pay for one thing or another. Substituting in Iowa actually paid for my plane ticket to Australia,” Englert said.

She hopes to continue her studies in Papua New Guinea and continue to document the rituals of the people; marriage rituals in particular.

Since her own adoption to the tribe, she has family that is accepting of her to help her document the special occasions.

“I am a family member of a Papua New Guinea clan,” Englert said. “There wasn’t a special ceremony; outsiders are usually adopted into a family. It helps with identification and to keep everything equal within the clan.”

Englert’s goals for the future are to continue her research, get her Ph.D in anthropology and just observe and exploring what’s around her. Depending on what she decides to concentrate on, she will decide whether she will pursue further education.

For now, Englert says, “I am focusing on getting teaching experience, surviving financially and keeping my options open and just exploring.”