30 Grads in 30 Days: Sara Stickler

Sara Stickler (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Name: Sara Stickler

Age: 22

Major: Anthropology

Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA

UCSC college: Nine

Favorite class or professor and why?

This question is easy because my two favorite classes at UCSC were both taught by the same professor: Nathaniel J. Dominy. The first course was Human Functional Anatomy in spring 2008. Though it was a lot of work for even a 10-unit class, I loved the material, and learning about the human body was ideal for my interests in forensic anthropology and primate comparative biology. We were able to work with both human and nonhuman primate cadavers as well as many casts from famous fossil hominins. Some thought working with the bodies was gross, but I loved it and was always fascinated. The second course was this winter quarter, Field Methods in Primatology. In this class we not only developed our own studies, but were able to go to Costa Rica for three weeks to conduct our research. It was amazing to get credit for being in the tropical rain forest with all the primates every day. Professor Dominy is great and has helped me out a lot with my own independent research, which I conducted while I was abroad in South Africa this past fall. He always has great advice and is supportive of his students' interests.

Most memorable experience at UCSC?

Studying abroad in South Africa for six months. Living in a culture with such well-known history and a background so different from anything I have directly experienced was an amazing learning experience. I made so many wonderful friends and tried so many new things it would be hard to elaborate on everything.

Favorite spot on campus and why?

When I lived on campus, I loved walking from College Nine to the Music Center. On really sunny, breezy days the air would be so clear you could see across the bay to Monterey. It is a nice place to do readings for class, and most of the time you can hear a music class nearby practicing or students playing their instruments.

How has UCSC shaped you?

UCSC, being a very socially conscious campus, has rubbed off on me in many ways. It has made me more involved in the community in which I live by being an RA for College Nine for two years and using the leadership position to help students to be more aware of the effect their actions have on others. I've always been open-minded, but having the support network of UCSC students who are equally open-minded has made me more vocal about my opinions or confronting those who many not be totally conscious of their own words or actions.

What are your future plans?

I plan on going to graduate school for a Ph.D. in anthropology but have not decided where. I am taking the next year off to work, volunteer, and research what programs are applicable to what I want to do.

How did you choose your college, and how has your college affected your education?

Like I said, I was a community leader at College Nine and was involved in all the activities and programs centered around the theme of International and Global Perspectives. This inspired me to study abroad to fully understand the way things work outside the United States and to experience something completely different. In South Africa, I learned so much more than I ever could just being in a classroom. It was the best experience I had in college, and being on my own in a place so different really made me a stronger person.


I conducted my own research in the field of anthropology on the subject of early hominin diet. This research began by collecting edible plants in South Africa, bring the samples to the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Maryland for analysis, and finally to Costa Rica for comparative studies on primates. I submitted this research for the Dean's and Chancellor's award on April 10, but will not know until later if I am chosen.

Also, my professor, Nate Dominy, nominated me for honors in anthropology for my work in the senior seminar. This will be voted on by a faculty committee and announced closer to graduation.

I will be receiving College Nine Distinction for actively participating in the theme for all four years and studying abroad.