Current Position: Junior Fellow and Doctoral Candidate in the Modern History Department at St. Anthony's College, Oxford
Where did you get your Master's Degree?I received a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Russian and East European Studies at St. Anthony's College, Oxford. I graduated first in my class with distinction.
What interested you about the Peace Corps?I became interested in the Peace Corps after the application process for scholarships to graduate schools had totally burned me out of the idea of continuing my studies right away. I wanted to live somewhere else, learn a new language and experience new things. On the same day that I had reached my limit with scholarship interviews the same two Peace Corps recruiters visited two of my classes on campus which I took to be some sort of weird sign, so I went by to learn more, liked what I heard, and started the application process. My first choices for sites were either western Russia or China, but neither of them fell into my timeframe for departure. The Peace Corps initially offered me a choice of Mongolia, Vladivostock (easter Russia) or Kyrgizstan. I was about to take Kyrgizstan when I mentioned East Europe and my recruiter mentioned that he had nine places remaining in Bulgaria for a June departure, so I took one and haven't looked back. Bulgaria is an immensely beautiful country with an interesting, old Slavic language, a long and not always positive history and people that can make you smile one minute and cry the next for any number of reasons.
What influenced your choice in graduate schools?When I started to apply to graduate schools during my last year as a volunteer, I applied to nine different schools mostly mostly for programs in public policy and international relations, but Oxford wrote me a letter saying that I would be much better suited for their MPHil in REES, which was a lot more thought and attention paid to my application than any other school apparently was willing to give, so I chose Oxford. Luckily for me, Prof. Richard Crampton was appointed as my academic supervisor. This is lucky because not only is he the number one non-Bulgarian Bulgarian expert and Professor of East European History at Oxford, but he is the best supervisor and teacher I could hope for. He has guided my studies for the past three years and I am hoping to be able to finish my doctoral thesis on the history of Bulgaria's environmental movement before his retirement.
What was your most memorable academic experience here in the English Department?It would be a tie between Brian Doherty's 60's class and any writing class with Zulfikar Ghose. Not only did they expand my abilities as a writer and my interests as a reader, but are exactly the kind of teachers that can make an average education an exceptional one.
Any advice for soon-to-be graduates?Keep your options open, there are lots of opportunities out there, so don't be in a rush to find a career and start trying to earn heaps of money.
Publications: The Unattainability of Closure: Bulgaria's Democratic Consolidation and the Kozldouy Nuclear Power Plant received distinction and was published as a book by ibidem-Verlag academic publishers, Hannover, Germany, 2005.