Graduating Senior Profile: Alex Heeschen

submitted by Sofia Benito Alston (’21), UVM Anthropology CommTeam

Alex Heeschen is many things: hardworking, dedicated, intelligent, passionate and lively. This list clearly falls short, but provides an image of what he’s like. His UVM adventure began in 2014 and will be coming to a bittersweet end this May. When he arrived, Alex was a History major, but we all know what the Anthropology department is like: they lure you in and it becomes impossible to leave. He fell in love with the subject and quickly changed his major. History stayed a part of his life, but as a minor instead. It was anthropology professor Dr. Jeanne Shea who then helped him choose his concentration: global health.

Alex has very impressively managed to balance ROTC with his anthropology major, and has even found ways to bring them together. In his own words, anthropology is “extremely applicable to my current field of work. I’ve always been an ‘arts and soft sciences’ kind of person, and this felt like a field which blended the two together perfectly.” In one of his courses, Anthropology of Global Health (ANTH288), he designed a research proposal to study the effects of a team mentality in the military for seeking treatment for PTSD. When asked what impacts he felt anthropology had on ROTC, he had a lot to say: “I participated in a training exercise in Romania in the summer of 2016. Having a people-centered approach to the situations they presented us in training scenarios helped me communicate my ideas clearly and approach these situations with a broadened perspective. Being receptive and understanding of different ways of doing things are essential attributes for Army officers, and I truly believe that studying Anthropology has helped me develop the tools I need to succeed in this field.”

Alex being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, May 20, 2018

Alex had to learn how to balance his time between anthropology and ROTC, and, at times, it was complicated. Due to the strict training schedule imposed by the army, he was unable to carry out any summer research and felt he wasn’t able to take full advantage of all the academic opportunities available at UVM. However, this didn’t stop him from being an “anthropology cheerleader” around campus. He has spoken in many freshman classes and continually talks about the discipline in ROTC. How much he admires his academic home is clear in his praise: “The anthropology department gives you a great sense of community and is a very tight-knit group. The professors are real and approachable and are happy to help you along your college career path in any way they can.” He also spoke about some of his favorite courses such as Anthropology of Eastern Europe, Anthropology of Global Health, Archaeological Theory and Environmental Anthropology.

What’s next for Alex Heeschen, you may wonder? On June 9 of this year, he will report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for five months of Field Artillery Officer Training. After that, on November 27, he will be reporting to Vilseck, Germany for his first assignment as part of the four-year active duty service obligation he owes the Army. After that, he hopes to get his Master’s Degree in Public Health and pursue a career in that field. He will be missed here at UVM, but we are all looking forward to seeing what incredible work he does in life. Good luck and goodbye Alex!


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