Student Profile: Megan Sarmento

Here is the latest installment of ADTSG’s student profiles feature!

These profiles are a way for the ADTSG membership to become acquainted with the next generation of anthropologists of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.  In this vein, each profile will introduce one graduate or undergraduate student to the group by asking him or her a series of questions related to his/her background and career aspirations in this field.

In this installment, we are profiling Megan Sarmento, a recent B.A. graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

I was sure that I wanted to study humans at the college level, but I only confidently knew that cultural anthropology was my field once I figured out how it differed from other studies like sociology, psychology, humanities, etc. I chose anthropology because it was the first research area that I felt paid enormous attention to the first-hand experiences and concerns of oppressed peoples. By using ethnographic methods, anthropologists attempt to break down barriers between “Other” cultures and make more connections. The prospect of changing powerful structures in Western society in order to better uphold global human rights is the ultimate reason why I found passion and hope in anthropology. I believe it can help me work to change the world for disadvantaged people who need help challenging deeply-rooted systemic problems.

Why are you interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research?

The dominant abstinence-based approach to drugs and alcohol in the U.S. has resulted in an uninformed and unprepared society who now abuses harmful substances by the millions. Therefore, I passionately believe that research and education on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco is essential in order to prevent devastating harms such as addiction, overdose, incarceration, stigma, etc. Increased research in this field will lead to an increased awareness of potential harms and benefits of many drugs.

What are your research plans for studying alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

As I advance into graduate studies, I plan to continue examining drug policy reform and social activism as I did in my undergraduate honors research. I am also interested in working with refugees or other vulnerable populations in the urban U.S. who experience substance abuse, and understand their connection to health care access. Ultimately, I aim to combat harmful public policies and suggest opportunities for structural reform that will benefit the lives of those suffering the most.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

Having just completed my BA, I now hope to attend a graduate program in anthropology next fall. I want to continue my education, gain teaching experience, conduct unique research, and eventually earn a doctorate to become a professor of anthropology.

If you are an anthropology student and would like to be profiled for the ADTSG website, please contact ADTSG’s Student Liaison, Breanne Casper, at for more information!