A scholar and volunteer

Maija Glasier-Lawson

PHOTO courtesy of Maija Glasier-lawson

Maija Glasier-Lawson, a Chico State anthropology graduate student, was recently honored with the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The prestigious annual award is given to a student who has shown “financial need, experienced personal hardships and [has] attributes of merit.” The 30-year-old Glasier-Lawson, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 18, has excelled academically despite the debilitating medical condition. She’s been named the Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholar, and recently received the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlings Merit Award and the Graduate Equity Fellowship. She also has somehow managed to spend more than 1,000 hours volunteering over the past 18 months.

How has having Crohn’s disease affected your college life?

The main symptoms that I deal with are chronic discomfort, upset stomach and fatigue. Understandably, these reduce the energy I have to work on my studies and extracurricular activities. Doctor visits also take time out of studying.

Where have you volunteered most of your time?

From fall 2010 to October 2011 I worked on the California Indian Conference, and for the last year I’ve been focusing on the Anthropology Graduate Student Association [AGSA] and Council of Graduate Students [COGS]. [I was a] board member for the 2011 International Festival and general volunteer for two conferences.

Did you set out to do that much volunteering?

I didn’t set out to hit [1,000 hours]. I just keep getting involved with different things and all of a sudden I was busy. I thought about dropping a few things off my plate, but the problem was I wouldn’t have started working on these things if I didn’t think they were important in the first place. Dropping them didn’t happen.

Why was this award so important to you?

Last year was a little rough at times, and this award made me feel that some of the things that I had sacrificed were worth it. Don’t get me wrong, last year was very fulfilling, but it can be hard to miss out on things as basic as sleep sometimes.

What are your future plans?

I plan on pursuing a PhD in anthropology, and I would like to find a way to raise public awareness about other cultures’ past and present and sustainable practices. If possible, I would do this by creating a public anthropology center in Northern California.