Frank Najarro was born in Flores, Jutiapa, Guatemala where he lived with his two brothers for eight years before emigrating to Sioux Falls, SD to rejoin his mother and two other siblings. Raised by his grandmother while his mother worked long hours, he learned the importance of resilience, hard work, and the power of education, and developed a strong interest in working on the elderly and aging. In 2013, Frank was awarded a Quest Bridge scholarship to attend Vassar College. As a first-generation, low-income person of color, he was heavily involved in the Engaged Pluralism Initiative, seeking to create an inclusive college environment. Frank helped launch a campus-wide survey and provided academic, professional, and emotional support to the students he worked for. Frank’s passion for anthropology was first sparked by the language the discipline provided him to express his observations and views about poverty, immigration, and racism he faced growing up. He received a grant to conduct ethnographic research in Singapore and conducted his own research in Cairns, Queensland, AU, on children’s environmental education. His senior thesis, which focused on the complexity of the usage of conservation language in government policy and education, received the Anthropology Department Thesis Honors. Frank is now completing a master’s degree at the University of Chicago. His graduate thesis investigates the identity negotiations elders undergo as they age and their capacity for being agents of change using their knowledge and wisdom. Frank plans to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology and work internationally to learn about and show the critical role elders can play in a global society. Frank enjoys theater, anime and hopes to have his grandmother’s culinary prowess.
2019-2020 Luce Scholar