That Girl: Jess Lamont
February 15, 2008
Jess Lamont is likely to be the only student on this campus who can read and write fluently in Sanskrit. Her passion is in the classics and has spent her years at the College educating herself about the subject. Jess serves as a research assistant, and as president of the anthropology club and has traveled extensively to acquire hands-on experience in the field — ranging from botany work with her father in Iceland to working on excavation sites in Greece, to leading museum tours in London. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and is currently working on her honors thesis about the idiosyncrasies of the Asklepios, a medicinal-healing cult in Athens. But Jess is more than just ancient letters and historic ruins. Despite her focus on the past, Jess exalts an unparalleled enthusiasm and excitement for the present that her friends describe as infectious and uplifting.
p. **Can you tell me a little bit about where you are from?**
p. I’m from the east end of Long Island, N.Y. I live right on the Long Island Sound, and it’s pretty rural out there still. My family is wonderful. Wonderfully eccentric, too. My dad is a botanist and my mom’s a park ranger. Unusual, you know? I have a little brother who’s graduating from high school this year, and a black lab pup named Stinky. I love and miss them all so much; to say they mean the world to me would be an understatement.
p. **What’s your favorite game to play in long car rides?**
p. The famous person game. It’s like 20 Questions, except you choose a historical figure or a musician or celebrity, and the other people have to guess who it is. Everyone learns a little something and it’s entertaining. My friend — who plays it avidly with his family — taught it to me in Spain. I’d love to tell you his name, but he’d probably be really embarrassed and question our friendship.
p. **Do you get pretty competitive with that?**
p. I’m always really competitive. Whenever we’re playing a game or there’s some sort of contest, I get really into it. Really, really into it. Like at random people camping trip this year, I got so aggressive when we were playing this manhunt, scavenger hunt type game I almost killed the people on the other team. During Orientation this year I played a game of ultimate frisbee with my hall, and I really frightened them because I was shouting at them and heckling the other team and stuff. They just didn’t see it coming.
p. **What spurred your interest in classical studies?**
p. I took Latin for six years throughout high school and middle school. Then, upon coming into college, I took a lot of really interesting classes in the department, and it just stuck with me I guess. Even though it’s not always relevant to every day life, it’s been great. I worked on an excavation in Greece two summers ago, and hopefully will end up going to grad school for some type of ancient history tract. And though my friends, tease about the relevance of Ancient Greek and Latin, it’s something I really enjoy.
p. **Have you done any other traveling for your studies?**
p. I studied abroad last year in England, and it was one of the best experiences of my life — something I’d recommend to everyone here at William and Mary for sure. I interned at this amazing museum, and got to give tours through aisles of Egyptian mummies and Greek statues. I also rowed crew there, which involved waking up at dreadful hours of the morning (the W&M rowing team amazes me still) and also meeting the best, craziest British people ever. I studied Sanskrit and ancient history, and afterwards, backpacked Europe for two and a half months.
So tell me, what kind of books does an anthropologist like to read?
I read “Guns, Germs, and Steel” over break by Jared Diamond. It was good. But I’d really recommend reading “Watership Down” (it’s about rabbits) and “Crime and Punishment.” Those are my two all-time favorites.
p. **How did you become interested in the anthropology club?**
p. Wow, you’re really grilling me here. I’ve worked in the anthropology department since freshman year. It’s really become a second home to me. For instance, I was working there on Thursday, when President Nichol sent out his resignation e-mail. I immediately started crying, and was able to cry and talk about it with two wonderful professors — who at this point feel more like family — and they helped me through the morning. I really love and respect the entire department.
p. So anyway, I got involved in anthropology club because I’m a major and really find the subject fascinating. It’s a fun club, really, We have culture nights where we get together with student groups like CSO and NASA and make ethnic dishes and invite a speaker who specializes in that culture or region to have dinner with us and then lecture. We’ve gone on digs, gone to pow-wows and invited lots of speakers to present. Yes, my friends incessantly tease me about it. Yes, I should consider getting new friends.
p. **It seems like your friends can’t embarrass you that easily. What does embarrass you?**
p. You know, as of late I’ve woken up on Saturday mornings realizing that the night before was filled with embarrassing moments and awkward situations. But, I guess a more definitive story comes to mind from the very beginning of the semester. I had all four wisdom teeth out three days before returning to school. I’m pretty sure I have a big head to start with, but I was so swollen that it was ginormous. I mean, really, really big. Cheeks-swollen-below-my-chin big. Plus I couldn’t talk well at all and couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t liquid, so I was pretty grumpy. Not the best way to start off your last semester.
p. **What has been the most difficult thing you have had to deal with during your time at the College?**
p. The past two days. Hearing about the BOV’s decision, and President Nichol’s fate. I love and respect him and all he stands for so much that it’s just been really tough. I’m not even yet sure how to best articulate how upsetting this all is.