Like our current students, alumni of CSEEES MA program are drawn from the best and the brightest, and have gone on to fulfill careers in government, education, NGOs and the private sector. Read below or choose the corresponding year to find out more about their thesis projects and why they chose the program.
Sophia Ashley • Fayetteville, North Carolina ’18
B.A. Psychology, Berry College
Thesis title: Authoritarian Preference and Locus of Control in Russia • Advisor: Jonathan Weiler
I was excited to find a program with both a global and regional component, and especially excited to see that the curriculum includes a study abroad opportunity during the third semester. The region has always fascinated me, and my study abroad experience in Moscow only amplified that fascination.
Leah Valtin-Erwin • Alexandria, Virginia ’18
B.A. East and Central European Studies, Hampshire College
Thesis title: The First Full Shelves: Grocery Shopping and Polish Pursuits of Normality After Communism, 1990-1994 • Advisor: Chad Bryant
I spent a good portion of my childhood in Berlin, where my early interest in the East and West ‘Europes’ began. The complexity of the continent and foreign perceptions of East & Central Europe are mesmerizing. The REEES program offers a focused language program and interesting courses with considerable flexibility and room for specialization.
Hailey Altena • Kalamazoo, Michigan ’17
B.A. History, Calvin College
Thesis title: Wrestling the Fourth Arm of Democracy: How the Orban Regime Undermined Media Independence in Hungary • Advisor: Milada Vachudova
Through two semesters of work and study in Eastern Europe I gained an affection for Eastern Europe, peoples of the region, Communist histories, and complicated politics. I wanted the academic rigor of a UNC Graduate program and I appreciated the REEES concentration as part of the Global Studies program.
Rainier Jaarsma • Amsterdam, The Netherlands ’16
B.A. American Studies, University of Groningen
Thesis title: Conditionality, Compliance, and the Diverging Accession Paths of Macedonia and Serbia • Advisor: Robert Jenkins
Eastern Europe was always of great interest to me, but when I started living in the Balkans in 2011, it really started to fascinate me. The Western-Balkans are a remote part of Europe; a hidden gem no one really knows about. Its turbulent recent history, geopolitical importance and ethnic diversity make it a truly fascinating subject of study. I chose the REEES concentration because it allows me to conjoin my background in American Studies, Political and Cultural Philosophy and my regional expertise on Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The availability of language training in Serbo-Croatian, which is rather rare in the United States, was also a major factor in my choice for UNC.
Carissa Landes • Anchorage, Alaska ’16
B.A. Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University
Thesis title: Legitimacy and Islamic Symbols in Contemporary Tajikistan • Advisor: Eren Tasar
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study the Russian language in high school. When I was sixteen, I first traveled to the Russian Far East and my experience there sparked a life-long passion for Russian culture. I find the field of Russian and East European studies to be fascinating, as well as extremely relevant to foreign relations. Apart from being a good fit for my research interests, I chose UNC CSEEES because of the warmth and enthusiasm of the students and professors. CSEEES offers several opportunities to engage outside of the classroom, from lunchtime lectures to pivo night; it’s really a community.
Philip Kiffer • Golden’s Bridge, New York ’15
B.A. History and Russian, Dickinson College
Thesis title: Actors in a “Cheap Comedy”: Soviet Dissidents in Psychiatric Hospitals, 1968-1974 • Advisor: Donald J. Raleigh
I don’t have a good answer for why I developed an interest in Russia. It’s such a dynamic, important, yet often misunderstood region of the globe. Once you begin to study it, it becomes an obsession, it sucks you in. There is no shortage of under explored topics in Russian history, economics, and political science. CSEEES boasts a great reputation and the impressive faculty and unique resources available to students made a strong impression. Everything that the program has done for me since I applied, (answering my questions, finding me funding, and even sponsoring a summer language study), confirmed my decision to come to Chapel Hill.
Anna Yudina • Moscow, Russia ’15
B.A. Linguistics, Moscow State Linguistic University
Thesis title: The Rally Around the Flag Effect in Russia: How an International Crisis Turns Regime Opponents into Regime Supporters • Advisor: Graeme Robertson
I wanted to get a different perspective and learn how Russia is perceived by the academic world in the West. CSEEES was a perfect fit for me – it offers an excellent curriculum and allows for a combination of courses from various fields. When I visited campus, I was amazed at how passionate professors were about their areas of research, which further convinced me I made the right decision.