We recently reached out to our graduates of the past ten to fifteen years and asked them to reflect on how their education in the Department of Slavic Languages has helped shape their lives and careers. Below are some of the responses we received. Many of these individuals were Russian majors, but we have also included statements from graduates of the School of Foreign Service (SFS) and MA recipients from the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES), all of whom had multiple years of coursework with us.
Jessica B., Russian major 2007
It is hard to overestimate the impact of my education in Russian language and literature at Georgetown on my career. I started learning Russian at Georgetown in the fall of 2003 and was completely fluent and even able to pass as a native speaker in many circumstances by the time I graduated in 2007. Besides language, I also took many literature and linguistics electives offered in the department.
The high level of Russian proficiency that I achieved through my courses in the Slavic Department at Georgetown allowed me to break into international journalism. After graduation from Georgetown, my language skills are what made me a competitive candidate for a position at the Moscow Times newspaper in Russia. My language ability is also what prompted major international news agencies, including Reuters and Bloomberg, to approach me about employment starting in 2009. In 2010 I joined Reuters’ Moscow bureau as an oil and gas correspondent. If I had not had such excellent language instruction at Georgetown, it would have been impossible for me to conduct lengthy interviews with government officials, gain the trust of oligarchs and opposition leaders and cultivate political activists, scientists, and politicians as inside sources for my stories.
Finally, in 2013, I joined Amazon’s Kindle team in Seattle as a global program manager, where the bulk of my work involved in-depth knowledge of Russian language and culture. I fully credit my competitive edge in several job markets to the language skills and cultural knowledge of Eastern Europe that I gained while a student at Georgetown.
Amy F., Russian major and Chinese minor 2011
I graduated in 2011 from the FLL with a major in Russian and a minor in Chinese. I currently work as a defense contractor, engaging in both short- and long-term projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. I was recently promoted to the position of Senior Consultant at my 150-person company (a position that normally requires 5-7 years of experience or an MBA), despite having less than 3 years of post-college experience. In large part, I attribute my speedy advancement to having studied languages. Much of my job requires pattern recognition, application of learned concepts in different environments, and the ability to quickly synthesize information and convert it from one form to another. For example, my language studies at Georgetown enabled me to absorb aspects of the computer programming languages on my current project almost effortlessly, and I have become proficient enough within a short period to serve as a member of the technical team. I consider this to be entirely thanks to the skills and mental exercises learned through my Russian and Chinese study at Georgetown. Despite the fact that few of my projects make direct use of my languages, I am able to appreciate the fringe benefits of my Georgetown education on a regular basis.
David S., Russian major 2005/CERES 2007
It goes without saying that majoring in Russian proved to be instrumental to my career. The quality of instruction in the Department and the appreciation for studying Russian language and culture instilled in me during my undergrad tenure influenced my decision to enroll in the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies for my M.A. (2007).
Since joining the State Department in 2007, my assignments have been heavily focused on Russia and the former Soviet Union, in no small part due to my long academic experience with Russian language and culture. In Washington from 2007-2010 I worked on NATO-Russian relations and I will be returning to DC this April to serve as the Adviser to the “frozen conflict” negotiations in Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. My overseas postings have included two stints in Russia – as a Political-Military Affairs Officer in Moscow in 2008, and as a Consular Officer in Moscow and Yekaterinburg 2012-2014. I’m very indebted to my professors in the Department, whose passion for the country, language, and region helped to ignite my own and influenced the trajectory of my future career.
Eva T., Russian and Spanish double major and business minor 2011
I am a Senior Analyst in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Capital One Financial. I work primarily in three areas: 1) Metrics and reporting on the representation, hiring, development, and attrition of our associates across race, ethnicity, and gender; 2) Consulting and providing support to our six Associate Networks (Women, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, CapAbilities, and Military); and 3) Partnering with analysts across our businesses to enhance the accessibility and usability of our products and services across minority market segments.
Georgetown’s intensely rich teaching of history and culture alongside the language allows me to help our associates develop and drive an inclusive environment at Capital One. I see my job as an opportunity to build a common language for associates to speak in when talking about culture and unique differences. While I don’t speak any East Asian languages, for example, I am able to communicate with our East Asian associates about the culture many of them were raised in and how that is affecting their perception in the workplace. I even launched a first-generation and emigrant mentoring matching program within a number of our Associate Networks, based on extensive research and conversations about Russian Heritage Language speakers – the topic of my senior honors thesis in the Slavic Department.
Bradley G., Russian major 2007
It is no exaggeration to say that the faculty of the Russian department was by far the most positive and lasting aspect of my Georgetown experience. I applied to Georgetown undeclared. My budding interest in Russian led me to sign up for Elementary Russian I with Professor Mihaychuk and Professor Morris’s seminar on Tolstoy. Immediately, I was hooked. The next year, I took Professor Meerson’s survey of nineteenth-century Russian literature – a course which still influences the way I think about how literature can interact with the world. Over the next four years, I took language and literature courses from almost everyone in the department. Often, if not every semester, my Russian courses were the class meetings I looked forward to most.
After I finished my studies, Professor Morris, who was department chair at the time, encouraged me to apply to the Flagship Russian Program run by American Councils for International Education. After learning Russian at Georgetown, I was admitted with a full fellowship to the program to study alongside heritage-speakers and students who had lived in Russian-speaking countries for years.
On the Flagship Program, I studied for an academic year in St. Petersburg, Russia, where my language and cultural preparation proved more than adequate for adjusting to life abroad. After the program, I worked in Moscow, Russia, for three years in various capacities, primarily as Russia Country Coordinator for the State Department-funded program EducationUSA.
In 2011, I returned to the U.S. to study for my Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures. I was admitted with full fellowship funding to programs at Harvard, Yale, the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin, but chose to study at Columbia, where several of Georgetown’s Russian faculty did their doctoral work.
Michelle M., Russian and Spanish double major 2007
I loved learning from Georgetown’s absolutely crazy, but undeniably brilliant Russian faculty. I met my closest college friends in Russian class and remain in touch with many of them as well as with my favorite undergraduate professor, Professor Marcia Morris, to this day.
After graduating in 2007, I spent the next five years working at the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC. From 2007-2009, I worked as a Research Analyst in the Department’s legal office, taking advantage of the Department’s free early morning language classes to continue my study of Russian. During the summer of 2009, I served in the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I put my Russian language skills to use. From 2009-2012, I worked as a Program Analyst in the Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, handling the Pakistan and Afghanistan humanitarian assistance portfolio. In 2012, I left the Department to pursue a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, which I completed in May 2014. I have focused my graduate studies on U.S. social and urban policy and hope to join a municipal or nonprofit team in the Boston area helping to improve services for residents and give back to the community I came from.
Kellen M., Russian major 2006/MSFS 2014
I began studying Russian in the spring semester of my freshman year in Georgetown University College of Arts & Sciences, and I declared a major in Russian shortly thereafter. I continued studying Russian with the Slavic Department every semester until my graduation in May 2006. As an undergrad, I had the opportunity to study under all of the following professors in the Department: Olga Meerson, Tatiana Olbrich, Holly Stephens, Valery Petrochenkov, Svetlana Grenier, Sylvia Lattova, Marcia Morris, and David Andrews.
My Russian studies at Georgetown were directly related to my first job out of college. With some help from Professor Petrochenkov, I connected with a CERES graduate student, who in turn advised me on my application for a job at Language Link Russia. I worked for Language Link as a teacher of English as a foreign language at the company’s Zelenograd office for the 2006-2007 academic year. The language training and cultural background I received at Georgetown were invaluable in my day-to-day life and work in Zelenograd, as I had to communicate with native Russian speakers on a daily basis.
While I enjoyed my on-the-ground experience in Russia, my longer-term intention was to find a Russia-focused job in Washington. I returned to DC in the fall of 2007 to begin an internship at the U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC), and I was hired on as a full-time staff member there at the end of 2007. From late 2007 until August 2012, I was USRBC’s Program Coordinator for the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, a private sector effort under which U.S. companies weighed in on the terms of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and advocated the passage of legislation in Congress to “graduate” Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. At USRBC, I regularly used my Russian training from Georgetown to read Russian-language news sources when researching political and economic developments relevant to the interests of USRBC’s member companies.
Jonathan A., SFS 2013
I am currently the 2013-14 Healy Scholar to Oxford University, where I’m reading the MPhil in International Relations with a focus on how organizational structure influences policy-making, using the Soviet Union as a case study. Without a doubt, the Department of Slavic Languages shaped my experience at Georgetown more than any other department. Georgetown’s world-leading Russian language instruction equipped me excellently to live and work in Russia, and greatly enhanced my ability to successfully apply for research funding, internships, and graduate programs. On a FLAS grant coordinated through the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (with help from the Slavic Languages Department), I found myself placed in the top language group after only two years of Russian, where I kept up with students who had studied the language twice as long as I had. But the Department of Slavic Languages provided more than simply language instruction. I found that Russian literature classes were some of my most rewarding at Georgetown; Prof. Morris taught me to really write in her “Apocalypse and Revolution” class, and Prof. Meerson taught me to really read in her “Heroines and Antiheroes” class. Moreover, a number of professors in the department became real mentors to me, encouraging me to pursue my fullest potential, leading to me being awarded the Beinecke and Healy scholarships, as well as becoming a finalist for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. I am very grateful for the excellent education I received from the Department.
William D., Russian and History double major 2011
It is tempting to discuss my interest in Russia and Eurasia poetically, as if it were my fate or doom. Some might see it that way regardless of what I say. The region’s history is fascinating in social, political, linguistic, military and economic terms. Daily events in Russia and its neighbors affect millions of lives and garner the attention of the world.
My curiosity may have spun itself into nothing without the Georgetown Russian faculty. As interesting as Eurasia is, it is inaccessible. Peering into the lives and cultures of Russia and Eurasia is like looking at a brick wall if you don’t know how to look. This is what I learned at Georgetown. I learned how to look at an idea or concept so that I could break it down, analyze its composition and develop new ideas from the original thought. Professors Fedorova, Mihaychuk, Sadowska, Meerson and Andrews (also O’Blazney) all cultivated and tuned my capacity to think. This has proven invaluable to me.
I am a graduate student in the European and Eurasian Studies Program of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Without the tools I acquired while earning my degree in Russian, I would not have prepared a strong graduate school application much less have been ready for the rigors of graduate coursework. I am indebted to the Georgetown Russian Faculty for the education they gave me and deeply appreciative of the positive influence they had on who I am as a person, as a human.
Zsofia B., SFS/CERES joint five-year degree 2008
After finishing Georgetown, I moved to Moscow for almost five years, first to do graduate studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), and then to work at an American consulting company. I came back to the U.S. briefly in 2010 to join the Foreign Service, which sent me back to Moscow to work at the U.S. Embassy for two years. Needless to say, the Russian language courses I took at Georgetown had a profound effect on my life and work. The reason I went to Moscow to study in the first place is because, although I felt my Russian was fairly good, I needed another year in a Russian-only environment to perfect it, and receiving a Boren Fellowship allowed me to study at MGIMO for a year (it was a full immersion program, meaning that I took classes in Russian with Russian students). My experience in Moscow and background in Russian studies convinced me that I wanted to stay there after finishing my program, so I applied for jobs in the city and accepted a position as an editor/translator/media analyst at The PBN Company, an American firm. My dream, however, was to join the Foreign Service, which I was able to do with the help of my Russian-language skills. I ended up back in Moscow at the U.S. Embassy for two years. I worked in the Press Office, so I often had the chance to do Russian-language interviews with newspapers, radio, and TV. I’m in Pakistan now, but there is no doubt that I’ll be returning to Russia at some point in the future to work there again.
Devan D., SFS 2011/CERES 2012
I took Russian in high school but never expected to study the language beyond a year or two in college. I began as a freshman in the SFS taking intensive Russian courses. To be frank, at that time my main goal was to pass the proficiency exam as quickly as possible. The professors and the program, however, quickly changed my mode of thinking. The department soon became a familiar environment, and by the end of my first year at Georgetown I felt like it was where I belonged.
The professors make an extra effort to encourage students to explore the language and the culture with various departmental functions, holiday celebrations and cultural activities and outings. I have never had an unavailable Russian professor – everyone in the department is eager to teach, explain, and discuss. However, what I loved most about the Georgetown Slavic Department is that the professors there helped push my passion for learning the language beyond just a passion for the language. Each professor in the department has his or her niche, and the Russian students at Georgetown are better off as a result. Professors gradually introduced Russian history, politics, culture, society, and literature into language classes. Once I became acquainted with these themes in Russian language classes, I soon began to explore specific classes like Russian Foreign Policy, Eurasian Energy Security, Russian Internet, various Russian literature courses, etc.
I continued taking Russian classes every semester throughout my undergraduate career, and was encouraged by Professor Marcia Morris to apply to the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies five-year BA/MA program for my Master’s. I stayed at Georgetown an extra year and in 2012 graduated from CERES. Today, I work for an international oil company in public and government relations and often am able to utilize my language skills as well as my broader knowledge of the region. I am so very grateful to Georgetown’s Russian Department and its fantastic professors and staff.
Ted H., Russian and Linguistics double major 2009
My post-graduate life has been an ever-developing matter of exploring new interests and personal developments and has led me professionally to computer programming, statistics, and data science. But this has only been a widening of interests, and I have never abandoned my love of Russian, Slavic philology, linguistics, and literature. After graduation, I went to Siberia to teach English for a couple months and met the love of my life. I’ve just moved in with her in New Haven, where she is a PhD candidate in Russian literature at Yale, and together we’ve amassed an impressive library of Russian and American literature. We discuss literature together, go to Russian baths in New York and Chicago, and I’ll be visiting her in Moscow when she leaves to study at RGGU for the next 5 months. It’s a testament to the Department that I can look back on time spent with particular professors and pinpoint the origin of what are sure to be lifelong passions and cherished experiences.
Rachel H., SFS 2013
I majored in Regional and Comparative Studies, focusing on historical causes for present-day conflict in Russia/Eastern Europe and the Middle East. I also completed a certificate in International Development. I choose Russian to fulfill my SFS language requirement and took eight semesters of Russian while at Georgetown.
I am currently working as an English Teaching Assistant in Tajikistan through the Fulbright US Student Program. I work at a USG-funded organization called the American Corner, where I conduct various English language and American cultural programs for students of all ages and language abilities. I also help students find and apply for study and work programs in the United States. After completing my Fulbright in June 2014, I will begin an MA program in Conflict, Security and International Development within the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.
Russian is Tajikistan’s second language and one that is widely used. Working in this country would be much harder if I did not have a solid Russian language foundation. It helps me communicate with my co-workers, explain difficult grammar concepts to my students, and perform regular daily activities like catching a taxi and going to the grocery store. The Slavic Department’s Russian classes and affiliated summer study abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia provided me with a well-balanced knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and cultural nuances that are vital to effective communication. The first four semesters of intensive Russian were particularly valuable, as I was able to advance relatively quickly to a level that permitted me to take Russian-medium courses, such as Russian Phonology. The ability to be successful in a class like this gave me confidence in my ability to use Russian in academic and professional environments, instead of just with friends or classmates. I am certain my knowledge of this critical language contributed to my receiving a Fulbright grant, and that receiving this grant in turn helped me successfully apply to a very competitive graduate program.
Melissa K., Russian major 2001/CERES 2009
I completed an undergraduate degree in 2001 in Russian at Georgetown, and then an MA at CERES, during which I had a Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship (FLAS) and studied Russian for two additional years. Studying Russian language, literature, and culture has impacted my life in many ways. After graduating I joined the Peace Corps and ended up in Kyrgyzstan. Because I already knew Russian, I studied Kyrgyz in-country, and was therefore more able to relate to all in the multi-ethnic town I was assigned to. After the Peace Corps, I worked for six months as a recruiter for the American Councils for International Education, a position for which Russian language was essential. I interviewed potential exchange students, coordinated testing dates with school officials, and gave speeches to parents in Russian. I also worked for two summers as a Russian language teacher and program coordinator at the Russian Language Village of the Concordia Language Villages, an immersion camp. In all of these positions, I believe that having knowledge of culture and literature as well as language enhanced my ability to relate to people. Discussing literature was always a way to start a conversation with a new co-worker in the field, and I took numerous literature classes, both contemporary and from past periods, at Georgetown. I also took a conversation class which focused on culture, helping to prepare me for these experiences. I found that this knowledge was of great use when I was teaching at Concordia Language Villages. I passed on what I had learned, after adjusting it for a high school level.
Michael L., SFS 2012
Although I was a Culture and Politics major in the SFS, I still managed to take several courses offered by the Slavic Department during my four years at Georgetown. It is difficult for me to express how indebted I am to the wonderful people who work in the department. I am currently in the middle of my second year as a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UCLA. This would not have been possible without the excellent training in Russian I received in literature and linguistics courses. The professors in the Slavic Department were teachers for me in the wide definition of the word: their patience and encouragement helped shape me into a sensitive, engaged reader, but also, and more importantly, their guidance helped me re-orient myself and my values during a particularly destabilizing time. Professor Meerson, in particular, helped me realize my place in life: with her help, I began to tune my musician’s ear to Russian poetry, opening up entirely new worlds for me. Professors Andrews, Fedorova and Meerson were invaluable to me as I applied to Slavic Ph.D. programs around the country in my senior year. They willingly heard out my bouts of self-doubt, read my essays, gave advice on how to make a successful application and wrote many recommendations. Thanks to their help, I was awarded a fellowship that guaranteed four years of full funding at UCLA. I have since begun to specialize in the Silver Age of Russian poetry, and I’m currently studying the phenomenon of Acmeist poetry books with Prof. Ronald Vroon thanks to two research mentorships I was awarded in 2013. My early acquaintance with Akhmatova, Blok, Mandel’shtam, Pasternak and Tsvetaeva in Prof. Meerson’s poetry course was an incredibly helpful preparation for what I do today.
Katherine M., SFS/CERES joint five-year degree 2007
I’ve taken many Russian and Russian-related courses, which have very much impacted my career for the better. As a result of our fabulous programs, I was able to study abroad at the history faculty of Moscow State University while in my junior year at Georgetown (another exciting experience!) While still an undergrad, I was already starting to use the acquired knowledge, first as a research assistant to Professor Stites as well as helping with the creation of several databases of international legal materials at Georgetown’s Wolff Law Library, mainly in Russian, French and Italian (the languages I knew). After graduation, I worked for an organization of CEOs in the Washington, DC region, some of whom had business dealings with Russia or the countries of the former USSR. Then, I started my own very small consulting company (which I still have) doing specialized translation, strategic marketing, interpretation and business development focusing on Eurasia, specifically Russia and Belarus. Currently, I do strategic marketing for a small private university in Fairfax, which caters primarily to international students. I initiate and maintain all our collaborations with other institutions, and my knowledge of Russian culture and language (and especially Soviet culture!) has been quite helpful in dealing with our partners in the Caucasus, in Central Asia and in Mongolia. Along the way, I got to do some very fun projects with Russian, such as being the voice of Gus in the Russian version of the Gus on the Go app for tablets and phones, which teaches kids basic vocabulary. Personally, I have been able to pass on my language and culture to my five-year-old son. I think the Slavic Department at Georgetown is phenomenal!
Arielle M., Russian major 2012
Russian at Georgetown was something of a love affair – I knew I “shouldn’t” be doing it (job security, liberal arts stigma, and so on) but I couldn’t help it. Every year I found new reasons to love the language, new similarities between the culture and me, and experiences that would completely transform the way I “love” Russia. I still tell my friends that when I feel about a boy the way I do about Russia, I’ll know I’m in love.
I had something of an advantage because I had taken Russian before Georgetown, so I already knew I was going to “love” it. And freshman year I did – but I had no idea how it would grow throughout my four years. Each year offered more variety of classes, ones that integrated coursework with other disciplines. By my senior year, I had had numerous instances in which I was learning the same topic in several classes, but the teacher approached it from a completely different perspective. I was starting to understand that life is something like a Dostoevsky novel, where there is no one person with access to “the” objective truth. Rather, we all contribute fragments of our perspectives, and in a messy, overlapping, incomplete way, we can infer a vague outline of reality.
In that way, the Russian department absolutely helped me hone a much more thoughtful, analytical component to my writing. I was no longer simply considering structural elements as the benchmark of a good essay, but rather a well-reasoned argument written in a personalized voice. That “voice” in my writing is certainly attributed to those like Professors Meerson and Fedorova, who teased out of me complex thesis ideas and allowed me to wrestle with both the consistent and contradictory until my ideas began to take shape. In fact, my senior thesis on orphans in Russian literature was the first time in my academic career that I worked more seriously for the product than for the grade. I had finally found that pinnacle of learning –in which the process itself was rewarding –and my whole Russian career had pointed me toward that moment.
One of the most influential aspects of my undergraduate career was my semester in St. Petersburg. Although my time abroad did not technically occur at Georgetown, it would not have happened without an incredibly supportive staff. I had researched a program that offered the academic program, extracurricular activities, and social atmosphere that I desired, but it was not a Georgetown pre-approved program. To add to my disappointment, my program was double the price of the Georgetown-approved program. Professor Morris helped me navigate the study abroad office, filing paperwork to petition my special case, and helping me to identify exactly what was unique about my program that would be a defining feature of my study abroad experience. I was truly shocked when I found out that Georgetown approved my study abroad program – at no extra cost than a typical Georgetown semester. All of my financial aid transferred, and I was given a world-class educational experience at a price that my family could manage.
One of the most solidifying moments in my future job search occurred in my senior-year Dostoevsky class with Professor Olga Meerson. We were reading The Brothers Karamazov, a book “you won’t truly understand until you’re in a really dark place.” I’ll never forget the chapter that precedes the famous Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, when the scholarly brother Ivan attempts to refute the existence of God based on the suffering of children. He momentarily entertains a counterargument to the existence of childhood suffering – that we are all paying for the sins of Adam and Eve. And then he shoots it down, with one of the most poignant lines in the entire novel: “Listen: if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer, and why they should buy harmony with their suffering.” I was so completely moved by this passage that I used it in my application to join Teach for America, which strives to achieve educational equity for children across the country.
Anna M., Comparative Literature major 2008/CERES 2010
In the course of my studies I took numerous classes in Russian literature with Professors Fedorova, Meerson, Grenier, and Mihaychuk. When I returned to Georgetown for a Masters degree from the Center of Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (2008-2010) I continued to take classes offered by the Department of Slavic Languages and ultimately asked Professor Fedorova to be my adviser for my Master’s Capstone, which analyzed the theme of childhood in Russian literature.
The classes I took through the Department of Slavic Languages have been invaluable to my professional career. I am a Research Associate at the National Security Archive and a big part of my job is translation from Russian into English. In particular, I have been translating the diary of Anatoly Chernyaev, a senior official in the Soviet government. The diary spans the years 1972-1991 and covers both political and cultural events in the Soviet Union. The background in Russian literature and culture I received through the Slavic Department at GU gives me a deep understanding of the text written by a Soviet intellectual who makes references ranging from Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov to Solzhenitsyn and the Soviet dissidents, from Silver Age poets to Socialist Realist authors, and beyond. In addition, the course on translation I took with Professor Meerson taught me to think outside the box when it comes to finding a way to convey the author’s voice and subtle meanings in the text. The courses offered by the Slavic Department at Georgetown gave me a deep understanding of Russian history and culture and prepared me for the work I do today.
Laura M., Russian major 2011
I’ve worked for American Councils since graduation but have moved location several times. I’ve been a Resident Director with the NSLI-Y program the past three summers, first in Kazan and for the last two years in Nizhny Novgorod. In between, I’ve worked in the DC office as a Program Officer for NSLI-Y Placement where I help coordinate language programs in Russia, China, Jordan (Arabic), Tajikistan (Persian) and Korea. Last year I left to do the Fulbright ETA program in Ryazan, Russia. This fall I worked for the FLEX program to help with recruiting students in Ukraine and Turkmenistan for five months. I was based in Kyiv and Ashgabat but traveled around both countries to run testing events and conduct interviews. I am back in the DC office working as a Program Officer for NSLI-Y again and will soon leave to move to Kazan as the permanent program director there.
I actually use almost everything I learned at Georgetown on the job. First, of course, is the language – I work with university staff in Russia, host families and other partners exclusively in Russian. In the field I do much more speaking than writing, and in the office it’s the opposite (writing letters, contracts, etc.). Knowledge acquired in literature/culture electives has helped me share my love of Russian culture with my students. I can help guide them through culture classes and project work in Russia and better understand and appreciate excursions in Russia. Most of them develop the same love for Russian while on program and continue to study in college, many as Russian majors.
A highlight of college was going to Russia on a Critical Language Scholarship, and I’m grateful to the department for advising me on this program and accepting some of the courses completed in Ufa for credit. It was important for me to try out what I learned in an immersion setting. I’m glad Georgetown encourages study abroad and works to make it possible for everyone. I wouldn’t be able to work in international programs without this in-country experience.
After graduating from MSFS in May 2014, I hope to have the opportunity to continue using my Russian language skills, either as a political risk consultant in the private sector or as a policy advisor in a U.S. government agency focused on international economic and business affairs.
Julianna N., CERES 2008
I had the opportunity to take several courses in the Department of Slavic Languages, including Advanced Russian, Russian literature courses (conducted in Russian), and Ukrainian. This coursework helped bring my understanding of Russian and Ukrainian languages to a new level, which in turn helped propel me into a career in international development. Presently I work for one of the largest implementers of USAID projects and am responsible for designing and managing development programs in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. My education in Russian language and culture have been invaluable to my work in international development in that it has enabled me to connect on a deeper level with the communities and individuals we are supporting, not to mention the project field teams.
Monique S., SFS 2007
After completing my degree in Regional Studies with a focus on Russia, East Europe and Eurasia at Georgetown, I went on to get my MA in Russian Studies at Stanford. Upon completion of that degree I worked for Columbia University as Associate Director for the Columbia Global Centers Initiative, responsible for opening eight University branch locations abroad. I attended Columbia Business School from 2011-2013 and now work for Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT services provider, as a strategic business manager, working in the innovation lab to develop and bring new insurance technology products to market in the US and Europe. Participating in the Russian program at Georgetown was essential to the understanding of the dynamics of culture and language that came to define my success at pivotal points in my career and led me to the opportunities that I found working in the international non-profit and business sectors.
Jillian T., CERES 2013
I’m able to use the expertise I gained through my Georgetown degree on a regular basis. Professor Fedorova’s Russian Internet course has proven particularly helpful! Even though I am working with people who have studied Russia and Eastern Europe for most of their careers, I feel qualified to give them my opinion on current events thanks to the education in Russian language and politics I received at Georgetown, where I was a graduate student in the CERES program from September 2011 through May 2013. I was particularly glad that I was able to take Russian language courses all four semesters, because, while there are many people interested in Russia, in my experience competency in the language stands out most to employers.
Dmitry Z., SFS 2009
As a heritage speaker of Russian, I came to Georgetown concerned that my uneven abilities – strong in some parts, much weaker in others – would make it very difficult for me to benefit from the course offerings. To my relief, I found that each and every instructor was willing to work with me on an individual level to tailor feedback, instruction, and enrichment assignments. My understanding of the language’s structure, grammar, logic, and history increased tremendously. Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the breadth of interesting Russian literature courses, which afforded the opportunity to delve deep into the literary canon under the guidance of knowledgeable, passionate, and patient scholars. In addition, when I studied abroad in Prague, I found my prior coursework in Prof. Andrews’ History of the Russian Language, as well as Professor Meerson’s many asides regarding comparative Slavic linguistics, to be invaluable during my study of the Czech language.
My courses in the Department were often the most demanding in terms of time and attention, but they were just as frequently the most rewarding. Although my current career path as a management consultant does not draw upon my Russian language skills, I continue to employ them on a daily basis as I attempt to keep up with the state of affairs in Russia today. The cognitive benefits of bilingualism are well documented, and I am appreciative for this as well. I give tremendous credit and thanks to the Department of Slavic Languages for helping me to maintain and improve this valuable and personally very meaningful linguistic ability.