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WIU alumna Micca Metz
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Classrooms of WIU Lead Alumna to Career as Professional Archaeologist

November 21, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – A Western Illinois University alumna has taken lessons learned through her undergraduate anthropology and history courses and transitioned them into a career working as a professional archaeologist.
Micca Metz, of Seattle, WA, graduated in 2010 with her bachelor's degree in history and a double minor in anthropology and creative writing. She went on to get her master's degree in 2012 from Illinois State University.
After graduation, Metz became an archaeologist for Amec Foster Wheeler Environment and Infrastructure in Washington. In 2016, she became a senior staff archaeologist for Cardno in Seattle, WA, and in January 2019, she began working as an archaeological consultant for Environmental Science Associates in Seattle, focusing on projects in the Pacific Northwest.

She has worked on three U.S. military posts in three states and is a registered professional archaeologist and field director, specializing in mortuary analysis and human remains. She also works closely with tribal representatives and construction personnel and performs her own research in military cemeteries.

"If it weren't for WIU, I wouldn't have known that my passion for anthropology could be made into a viable occupation," said Metz. "It wasn't until my first anthropology class 'Intro to Anthro,' with Dr. Jess White. that it clicked. I looked at the guy next to me in the big auditorium in Morgan Hall and just said 'Wait, people will pay me to do this?'"

Metz also credits learning the extensive research skills she uses as an archaeologist to the history classrooms of WIU and faculty members Professor Lee Brice and Professor Emeritus Walter Kretchik. Metz said Brice has been a "constant friend and sounding board" since before she graduated from WIU, and Kretchik gave her the opportunity to mentor his First Year Experience class for several semesters, and his military history class was a powerful influence in her career. She also credits former WIU Assistant Professor Roberto Mazza with giving her the travel bug and the courage to pursue adventures abroad.

It was her anthropology professors at WIU that Metz said helped motivate her career choices.

"Drs. Heather McIlvaine-Newsad and Jess White in the anthropology department helped to advise me in finding the right graduate programs and professional internship opportunities," said Metz. "Dr. Patricia Anderson, who taught forensic anthropology and anthrozoology classes in the anthropology department, motivated me to chase after a career in biological archaeology."

McIlvaine-Newsad said that while Metz was more interested in archaeology than cultural anthropology, she recognized that in order to have a career as an archaeologist she would be working with living people.

"She understood that this meant being able to talk to and listen to the people she was working with," said McIlvaine-Newsad. "I think that the attention to detail she has as an archaeologist also allows her to observe patterns and listen deeply to those she is working with now. Her openness to learning new and different ways of being in the classroom have served her well in professional life. Micca is a perfect example of how what one learns in an undergraduate anthropology classroom can contribute to the world."

Anderson said she is proud of what Metz has accomplished after being inspired by her forensic anthropology and anthrozoology classes.

"I remember Micca Metz fondly as a passionate, bright student who writes beautifully, and whose coursework at WIU prompted her to pursue an MS degree in Biological Anthropology at Illinois State University," said Anderson.

Recently Metz collaborated with fellow WIU alumna Theresa (Lynch) Kelsey, a 2004 political science graduate, and her Hillcrest High School world history class to incorporate archaeology into the class' lesson plans. The two originally met on a WIU alumni Facebook group and later set up an opportunity for Metz to talk with Kelsey's students in Country Club Hills, IL, by video conference.

Students asked Metz questions about her career and how archaeology relates to understanding history.

For more information on WIU's anthropology degree, visit

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