Tucker graduate earns Fulbright grant

J.R. Tucker High School alumnus and 2011 Elon University graduate Chris Jarrett recently earned a Fulbright grant that will be used to fund his overseas anthropological research in Ecuador in 2011-12.

For his research project, Jarrett will be working and living with the Amazonian Kichwa, a group of indigenous peoples who live in the Napo province of Ecuador.

The primary focus of his research will be the guayusa tea ritual, a ritual in which Kichwa families gather in the early morning to drink tea, tell stories and play music.

“I will be working on creating a book of cultural narratives [related to the guayusa ritual]” Jarrett told the Citizen.

According to Jarrett, these narratives initially will be written in the native Kichwa language and later be translated to both Spanish and English. Additionally, he hopes to get enough material from his research to produce a couple of academic articles regarding the topic.

This, however, is not the first time that Jarrett has visited Ecuador for academic pursuits.

He also spent a semester studying abroad in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito in the fall of 2009 after he won the Lumen Prize, a $15,000 grant from Elon that awards academic and creative achievement.

During that semester, Jarrett did research for his 160-page-long undergraduate thesis about the cultural history of Ecuador. In the undergraduate thesis, Jarrett focused primarily on the relationship between culture and politics in Ecuador, Amazonia, indigenous identity and alternative development strategies.

Despite his success in the field of anthropology up to this point, it was not Jarrett’s initial choice for his field of study.

“I was originally going to study international relations [at Elon], but after taking an anthropology class during my freshman year, my interest began to turn towards that particular topic” Jarrett said, “Also, I’ve always been very interested in different development processes [among different groups of people].”

In addition to his academic pursuits, Jarrett was very involved during his time as a student at Elon in North Carolina. The summer after his freshman year, Jarrett worked as an intern in the Dominican Republic for a non-profit organization. He also spent an alternative spring break in Honduras and was involved in a Spanish learning community at the university.

Jarrett also was very involved during his four years at Henrico’s J.R. Tucker High School. He won the senior history award for his class and was a member of National Honors Society, National Beta Club, the Spanish Immersion Center and the president of the school’s Spanish Outreach Center.

According to Jarrett, two of his teachers at Tucker had a significant influence on him and his academic career.

Jarrett credits Steven Galyen, his US government teacher, for sparking his interest in history/politics. He also acknowledges English teacher Becky Wright for “helping me to become a much better writer.”

Galyen is now retired, while Wright is the head of the English Department at Tucker.

Jarrett is the son of Elizabeth Jarrett of Henrico and Thomas Jarrett of Gwynn, Va.
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