Julia Nee ’15- Reshaping Roman History

Steel toed boots? Check.  Indiana Jones hat? Check.  Sunblock? Check. Trowel? Check.

Maybe an unusual packing list for a trip to Europe, but perfect for a Tuscan excavation, which is exactly why I had the opportunity to spend about a month and a half in Europe, immersed in a new culture, meeting new people, and learning new skills.10347424_10152256693933123_5358629114564021071_n

For a month this summer I was on a multi-national excavation team digging in Cinigiano, Italy.  The dig was called the Roman Peasant Project, which looked into the material culture of peasants in the Roman and late-antique periods.  This was the sixth and final season of the project, which has excavated eleven sites since 2009.  This project was groundbreaking in both the questions being asked and methodologies being used. In a lot of textbooks, the peasantry is painted as a fairly stagnant, subservient, and subsistence-living entity, but also as a massive percentage of the population. The Roman Peasant Project is trying to challenge and complicate perceptions of the peasantry, by digging a variety of sites to prove the variety of ways of life of these rural, non-elites.  This season we dug at Tombarelle, one hill which has its own complicated story.  We excavated what we suspect is the base of a medieval tower (built from a Roman cistern), a tannery, a kiln, and some dumps of rubbish.  We found massive collections of ceramics, including the largest collection of second century AD black gloss-ware, definitely the largest collection ever found outside a city, and potentially the largest collection found ever.  For a history nerd like me, no matter how basic the find, simply discovering and holding things more than two millennia old was surreal.

Having the opportunity to be a part of this project means so much to me, because I plan on continuing to grad school next year, and eventually to a Ph.D. program.  As a small school, Swarthmore doesn’t offer archaeology, so this dig has offered me an opportunity to explore a different aspect of classical and medieval studies.  The Roman Peasant Project was a joint effort between the University of Pennsylvania and some Italian scholars, with American, Italian, British, Belgian, Australian, and Czech workers, giving a really diverse global experience.  I moved quite a bit of dirt, but it was not all been manual labor. I also learned about the paperwork and documentation side of archaeology, worked with ceramics and ceramics experts, learned new technologies like 3D imaging and surveying with the Total Station, and worked with other specified experts in archaeology, including a bone specialist, archaeo-botanists, and a geo-archaeologist.

10487461_10204073604150714_2646698467679322310_nI don’t think I’m going to be an archaeologist, but the project has introduced me to international students of all levels of education (undergrad, Masters, Ph.D. candidates, post-doc, tenured professors) who are all interested in similar subjects.  They offered insight to my further pursuits in academia, and I also made some amazing friends.  My roommates on the dig all go to UPenn so we already have plans to meet up and see each other this fall!

I didn’t just dig while I was in Europe.  I had the chance to do some travelling before, during, and after my work on the project.  Before I reached Italy, my two biological sisters and I got to visit Dublin and Prague.  It was really amazing travelling with them – we’ve always been close, but we’re all in college or living on our own now so besides seeing some amazing museums and historical sites, the trip was a real bonding experience.  Once in Italy some of the younger members of the dig team and I got to do some traveling with our limited weekends, hitting some of the small Tuscan towns near us like Paganico, as well as Siena and Florence.  In Italy I also saw Pisa, Rome, and Naples.  It’s really hard to pick one favorite place that I saw, since I loved everywhere for different reasons.  The classicist in me couldn’t help but fall in love with Rome, but Siena was such a clean and friendly city, Prague was just breathtaking, and Dublin was so much fun!

IMG_4532This summer was definitely an amazing experience, one I wouldn’t exchange for anything, though it is nice to be home finally.  Nothing’s quite the same as your own cozy bed.  Now that I’m home I have a few weeks before I head back to Swat for my final year there (a terrifying thought).  As I get ready for my GREs, grad school applications, my history thesis, and cross country season this fall, I can’t help but look further ahead to when I can go back to Italy and Europe.  I got to see so much, but there’s infinitely more to see and I can’t wait!




Gabriela Campoverde ’15- Fitness Start-Up Summer Internship

For the summer, I am working at ((305)) Fitness, a fitness start-up company in NYC, as the Search Engine Optimization and Market Strategy Analyst. I did not realize how lucky I was to find an internship that I love until this past week. Someone asked about my summer, and I explained what I was doing. When they asked about the fitness company I work for, I said I loved the classes they offered and was happy to work for a company which I believe in.

((305)) Fitness has been recognized for bringing a Miami club atmosphere to a cardio dance, high intensity training workout. Every class has a DJ, lights, and an awesome instructor that will make sure you sweat while dancing, sprinting and toning. Last year I got obsessed with ((305)) classes after my friend brought me to one. It’s one of the few exercises that will have you singing and leave you with a puddle of sweat after you’re done with your session.

Although most of my work has involved working on the company’s website and Google Analytics, a lot of my time is also spent calculating Key Performance Indicators, speaking to clients, etc. On a daily basis, I track how people are interacting with the website and develop ad campaigns when they are needed. I have also been able to build the company’s blog. I love working at a start-up company because I am exposed to so much and have been able to hone my skills with SEO.

I have had so much freedom to work on various projects. Since our company has just launched a new location in Washington D.C., I have been working closely with reports to look at our consumers’ behavior. I was thrilled to begin this task because its something I always thought was interesting but had no previous experience working with. It’s very tedious, but in the end I find it incredibly fascinating to be able to strategize after doing research on our sales, clients and performance.

What I love the most about my work is the opportunity to work with such a great team. The founder, Sadie, is an amazing person whom I look up to and have become close with. She is so hard-working and fierce. (She’s only 24 and has a business that Cosmo, The New Yorker and all of NYC is raving about!) She loves what she does, does what she loves. I met her last year since I often took classes instructed by her. The small team we have in the office is always great fun and appreciates the work that I do for the company.


Three years ago, I don’t think I would have ever thought I would be doing this. Since I was 16, I have interned in corporate law firms, fashion showrooms, event management agencies and non-profit organizations. I always thought about going into fashion business, but I became exposed to different fields after my summers abroad and time at Swarthmore. I have always known that I am interested in trends and behavior, but I am still figuring out where it will lead me. My job on-campus as an Information and Technology Associate really contributed to me finding my passion. I enjoy discovering how technology makes it easy for people to solve problems or look at data. SEO and Market Strategy seemed like the perfect thing to try out.

During my Spring abroad in London, I was able to take marketing and accounting classes at University College London which got me even more interested in consumer behavior. I also met one of my mentors who introduced me to the start-up scene in London and encouraged me to take online courses to learn more about Google Analytics and SEO. Every couple days, I would go to a new cafe and watch a few videos and take tests online. I taught myself most of what I know, and it gave me the opportunity to apply for the position I have now.


NYC has also been amazing this summer. I am currently living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with two roommates. I love the neighborhood I live in. There are a ton of unique and quirky boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants. I am a New York native, but after being abroad and being at Swarthmore, I have recently spent very little time here. It’s great to be back. I also went to Ecuador during the July 4th weekend for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary and wedding vow renewal. Much of my free time has been spent catching up with old friends and family, walking around the city, and of course, taking a few ((305)) classes.