Q: Where did you spend your undergraduate career? What was your major?
I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at
Boulder in Russian language and literature.
Q: What are you doing for your M.A. program? Why did you choose CSEEES?
In the time between receiving my B.A. in Russian language and literature and arriving at UNC, I spent my time managing several bars in Colorado and working with community charity organizations. After working with such groups I realized that I wanted to combine my love of Russian culture with my interest in community organization and decided to pursue a master’s degree here at Chapel Hill.
Q: Why did you choose to study this region of the globe? Is there something in particular that attracts you to it?
As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated with Russian culture. For me, growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, watching what I had known to be the evil empire dissolve and become what many hoped to be a new frontier for democracy was one of the most formative aspects of my childhood.
Q: Do you have work and/or study experience in the region?
Several years ago I was fortunate enough to study in St. Petersburg, Russia. While I have remained engaged with current developments ever since my time in Russia, I have not yet returned. My aim is to return there this upcoming summer after I graduate.
Q: What is your thesis topic?
I am writing my thesis on civil society development in modern Russia. Specifically, I am interested in how Russian political elites attempt to channel civil society and how nongovernmental organizations react. My title is “Dreaming Up Snow: Restriction, Registration and Radicalization of Russian NGOs 2000-2010.”
Q: What types of language experience do you have?
Beyond my academic years of Russian language study, I have participated in two summer language immersion programs, one in Indiana, and the other in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Smolny Institute. Currently I continue to study Russian while simultaneously beginning to learn Uzbek.
Q: What are some awards and honors you have received?
During my time in the M.A. program, I have been fortunate enough to receive two Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, one so I could spend the summer at the SWSEEL program at the University of Indiana, and another which was for a full academic year here at UNC. Additionally, I was selected to present my research at the upcoming Duke University Lived Experience of the State conference.
Q: What do you like about Carolina?
I have been continuously amazed at the sense of community here at Carolina. Not only do the directors of our program have open door policies, but their willingness to introduce you to connections and provide you with tools for your future is outstanding. It is rare that a group of people can exhibit such professionalism while simultaneously making you feel part of their community.
Q: When will you graduate? What do you plan to do after graduation?
I am planning to graduate from the program in May of 2011. Currently my post graduation plans include finding work or an internship in Central Asia, but as my long-term goal is find permanent work with either the Foreign Service or with a nongovernmental organization, my options are open.
Q: Are you attending any conferences or symposiums this semester? What are your summer plans?
This semester I will present my research at the Duke University Lived Experience of the State conference. This summer, I hope to return to Russia.
Q: What is your dream job?
To work with either the Foreign Service or with a nongovernmental organization.
Q: What are your hobbies? What do you like doing in your free time? Fun facts?
Should I just put hanging out with underbellies? J I can juggle flaming chainsaws, kidding, kidding. I once was employed as tour manager for an independent record label out of California. I lived out of tour vans, traveled the country, and became intimately acquainted with the seediest underbellies that America has to offer…and had a great time. While I’m not sure if it’s in the cards, I would love to do the same in Russia.