Name: Henry Gorton
Major(s): Anthropology & Religious Studies
Year in school: Senior
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Clubs/Organizations: Mindful Ambassadors, Big Ideas and Grand Challenges
Leisure Pursuits: I am currently binging season 1 of Gold Rush on Discovery+. I am an avid Magic: The Gathering player. I grow basil, aloes, and wildflowers on the walkway in front of my apartment.
Research Projects: I am currently working on my Honors thesis with my advisor, Dr. Diane Austin. My thesis research examines changes to the wording of the American Indian category on the 2020 Census. The new wording emphasizes that indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America count as American Indian. My thesis will examine the potential consequences of the new wording for Native Americans as well as indigenous communities from Mexico and Central America.
Plans after graduation: I hope to work at the University of Arizona!
What has been your favorite Honors course or experience that you have been involved with?
Having the opportunity to conduct my own research through the Honors thesis has been my favorite experience. I’ve enjoyed being able to conduct interviews, engage with primary sources and take a deep dive into my data!
What is something you have done during your time at UA of which you are especially proud?
I’m most proud of finishing my degree through three semesters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What message do you have for other Honors students on finding their own success?
Mask up and bear down! The pandemic makes it a hard time to be a student or pretty much anybody. Be kind to yourself, and take time to check-in with yourself and assess your own needs.
"Brimming with enthusiasm, when asked to share a few remarks about their experiences working with Henry Gorton, none of his professors could contain their comments to just a few sentences. I have curated their observations here to provide examples of Henry’s unique ability to combine critical thinking with civic mindedness and human kindness. Beyond his attested academic excellence, Henry displays the qualities of integrity, persistence, and concern for community the honors college celebrates. In every semester of his time at the university, Henry has made the Dean’s list with distinction and in May 2020 earned Academic Year Highest distinction; professors agree that his academic work is at the graduate level. Henry cultivates wisdom by applying what he learns in the classroom to a broader world of human interactions. Henry’s contributions to the larger Tucson community have been many: the Tucson Meet Yourself, the AIDS Walk Tucson, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona at Las Milpitas, the university’s Mindful Ambassadors, the Honors College’s Big Ideas and Grand Challenges series, the Inn Project of Tucson (providing temporary housing for migrant families who have been released by CBP), and the Iskashitaa Refugee Network. When I asked him about his experience working with migrant families, he expressed his duties as a simple fulfillment of things that needed to be done: changing bedding, cooking breakfast, the basics of making people feel at home. He cares for his extended Tucson family by helping neighbors who have chronic health conditions and those who require assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a relative recently diagnosed with cancer. Addressing injustice through conversation is a vital dimension of Henry’s academic pursuits and of his mode of being. One professor remarked upon a related example: “On one occasion, after he witnessed a student making derogatory comments about Asian students on campus, he met with me to share his concerns about the incident and we discussed what he thought would be an appropriate response.” On her experience mentoring Henry in her course on religion and immigration, Dr. Daisy Vargas observed, “It became clear through our conversations that Henry was interested in writing about Muslim American identity and racialization because he values the importance of this knowledge beyond the university. I had the honor of watching Henry add valuable insight and analysis to our contemporary social and political moment during his presentation of his final paper “‘We the People’ and the American Flag Hijab.’” He demonstrated the ability to present theoretically complex ideas related to questions of American citizenship in an accessible fashion, and stimulated a generative discussion in response to his paper. Indeed, Henry Gorton models the importance of a humanities education— I have no doubt that Henry’s academic talents move beyond the classroom and into his community.” We look forward to Henry’s Honors Thesis on the impact of changes to the U.S. census category of American Indian."
– Rae Dachille, Assistant Professor, College of Humanities Religious Studies
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