By Dulce Carrillo
Real world experience and eye opening stories is what anthropology professor Jeffrey Rigby encounters in his teachings.
Rigby has been working at East Los Angeles College as an anthropology professor for 10 years, and at other community colleges around the Los Angeles area since 1989.
Rigby graduated from Santa Monica High School and has a Doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles that focuses on California Native Americans.
Rigby, at the age of 11, was taken to his first trip to Africa.
His mother, who was an educator and studied health conditions in Third World countries, took Rigby to a six-month safari trip from Egypt to South Africa in a British army Bedford truck. He remembers sitting on top of the truck and watching tribes with unusual weapons.
“I remember seeing the Bushmen and how they were still using bows and arrows. I thought it was so primitive, but it was also interesting for me,” Rigby said.
Rigby grew a passion with discovering and learning different cultures around the seven continents.
“Most of the things in my collection I either inherited, were given as gifts, found or I bought myself. While other kids my age were out buying stereos and records, I was out acquiring various elements of culture. Many of them before I was 16,” Rigby said.
In 1997, he took his students to their first 15 day trip to Egypt which they came across Cairo and Abu Symbel located in south Egypt and Ancient Nubia.
Most of Rigby’s students who have taken his class more than once continue to be blown away from his stories as well as learning new stuff about themselves and culture.
“Rigby is a down to earth, passionate and reasonable person. His real world experiences are eye-openers and what he knows about anthropology… is just amazing,” Rosemary Flores, anthropology major and ELAC student said.
“Rigby’s classes are appreciable and he knows what he is teaching. I loved learning about religion and witchcraft in his class,” Flores said with excitement.
Working at multiple schools, Rigby’s past students continue taking his classes.
“I still take his classes even though I don’t need to take them,” Daisy Bustamante, Chicano studies major said. “He’s approachable. Everything in the syllabus is done,” she continued.
Genoveva Estrella, a previous student of his has stopped taking his classes due to a busy work schedule and can only take evening classes.
She says she is thankful for what Rigby’s teachings has brought to her life.
“Professor Rigby has motivated me to continue taking classes with him because he offers something not a lot of persons can offer, first hand experiences,” Estrella said.
“I admired him when he mentioned to the class that he could have made more money working as a consultant because the knowledge he has about baskets and other archaeological artifacts. But he said he chose to teach because he wanted to fight ignorance. To me, that is a very noble attitude,” she continued.
He is now working on a trip for his students to go to Japan in 2014.