Become the next Indiana Jones: YSU edition

By Aleksa Radenovic

Measuring old bones and discovering ancient civilizations lost to time are only some of the adventures archeologists embark on. 

Youngstown State University’s anthropology program allows students to travel and assist on archeological digs all around the world.

Matt O’Mansky, an archeologist and associate professor at YSU, said his career took him to some of the world’s most remote destinations.

“As an archeologist, I worked in France, Belize, Guatemala, [The] Bahamas and many other exotic locations,” O’Mansky said.

O’Mansky’s connections led to organized trips where students had the chance to participate in archaeological digs, making their education a hands-on experience.

As a strong advocate of international exposure, O’Mansky believes the trips equip students with the practical skills and critical experience for a successful career in archaeology.

“I’m really passionate about studying abroad,” O’Mansky said. “When we apply for a job we can all look good on paper, so having an archeological field trip to The Bahamas or Guatemala gets you noticed.”

As archaeology breathed life into forgotten civilizations, students like Jordan Pintar, philosophy and anthropology major, took advantage of the opportunity to travel.

Pintar said she discovered numerous artifacts, including broken tools that once served as practical instruments.

“One of the biggest finds they had last year was a fireplace hearth,” Pintar said. “There are also cooler parts of the trip where you don’t have to dig, where we saw skeletons of ancient houses and gardens.”

Pintar said students ventured beyond the excavation sites, embarking on swims into caves, delving into marine biology, actively engaging with the local community, participating in beach clean-up initiatives, attending holiday celebrations and even visiting labs with ancient remains.

Pintar intends to pursue archaeological ethics. She said the trips set students apart in graduate school applications. 

“It’s really cool to see how your learning changes. You have weeks of lectures building into the trip, but what really makes a difference is being able to actually go there and dig,” Pintar said. “You’re getting experience that will set you apart in a masters program.”

Anna Kozinska, an undecided major, is aiming to confirm her interest in archaeology.

“For the longest time I didn’t know what I wanted to do about my future, but I realized that I really want to see and learn about different cultures in different parts of the world and anthropology is a good way to do that,” Kozinska said.

Kozinska said she believes archaeology reveals more than artifacts — it uncovers her own aspirations and the purpose of current explorers, extending her knowledge beyond history books.

“Digging in the ground for artifacts and figuring out more about the past, is like digging in my brain and figuring out more about my future,” Kozinska said.

Despite offering overseas experiences, affordability is a crucial consideration. O’Mansky said the estimated cost of these trips is estimated to be $1,400, covering the student’s plane ticket, transportation, permits and half of the meals and hotels. 

O’Mansky is working to establish the Meaghan Galloway Study Abroad Scholarship in Anthropology to support students who might struggle to afford the trip. 

In order for the scholarship to get into motion, he needed a donation exceeding $10,000.

“I thought about it for years, and then a friend of mine who went with me to Guatemala in 2007 got brain cancer,” said O’Mansky. “She died a young mother in her 30s, and with the blessing of her husband and her mom, I named the scholarship after her.”

For more information about the opportunities and the scholarship fund, contact O’Mansky.