JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ, UNITED STATES
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - In movies, archeologists are often portrayed as a dusty explorer in a fedora wielding a bullwhip.
For Army Reserve Sgt. Kathleen Shetley, her experiences in archeology have never involved a bullwhip, although occasionally she'll wear the fedora.
And she most certainly embraces the dust.
“I like being in the dirt, I like the bones, I like seeing how people lived, how they died,” said Shetley, who serves as a flute player with the Army Reserve's 380th Army Band headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.
Shetley is bringing her affinity for getting gritty and dirty not to a movie set, but on location at the U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, which will test Soldiers' resiliency and warrior skills in events such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, M4 rifle and M9 pistol qualification ranges, hand-to-hand combatives, day and night land navigation, 10-kilometer ruck march, urban operations and several mystery events throughout the week.
When not competing against her fellow Army Reserve Soldiers, Shetley focuses her efforts on bioarcheology, a discipline within traditional archeology that focuses on studying human skeletal remains in order to learn about past civilizations and the conditions in which they existed.
“I've had two field experiences on a Saponi Indian site that's about 10,000 years old,” Shetley explained. “On one, I was actually the artifact supervisor, so I was in charge of cataloging and identifying all of the artifacts that we found.”
Shetley began her college career studying music to become a teacher, but quickly realized her calling would take her down a different path.
“I went to college being dead set on music education, on being a teacher,” Shetley explained. “Then I started thinking I'd like to be an archivist or in museum studies, so I transferred out of Kutztown University to Longwood University, but they didn't have a library science or museum studies track. So I started taking anthropology classes and immediately fell in love.”
That love affair led Shetley to bioarcheology, including a semester as an archeology lab technician with the Dr. James W. Jordan Archeology Field School at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
“You dig down and you think you're not finding anything. And then suddenly, these pieces of ceramic are popping up, or a bone awl, or you start finding all of these projectile points. It's just fascinating to see how these people lived,” she said.
Shetley is living in a age when only 16 percent of U.S. high-school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The Army has followed President Barack Obama's lead in promoting STEM opportunities to increase Soldier engagement, interest and achievement in the STEM fields.
“I just want to do everything,” said Shetley, a group fitness instructor who has a passion for expanding her horizons. “If I could, I would get a masters degree in ethnomusicology, and bioarcheology, and Middle-Eastern civilizations – everything!
“I never would have been able to get even one degree on my own if I hadn't enlisted and used the educational benefits,” she said. “The Army has really lent a helping hand.”
Although she didn't bring her fedora, Shetley has her Army Combat Helmet in hand and is prepared to bullwhip her way through the Best Warrior Competition.
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This work, Army Reserve Soldier brings archeological acumen to Best Warrior Competition, by SSG Shawn Morris, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.