BA in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Riley Hester

Riley Hester

Riley is a senior double majoring in Global Affairs with a concentration in international development and Russian and Eurasian Studies with a concentration in language and culture. She came to Mason knowing that she wanted to continue studying Russian because she had already studied Russian in high school.

[At Mason] I got more involved with the [Russian and Eurasian Studies] department my sophomore year when I began participating in the Mason Russian Club. The connections I made there made me fall in love with Russian even more and inspired me to switch my Russian minor to a major.

Riley became president of the Russian club. At Mason, she also could take advantage of many opportunities. A faculty member nominated her for the ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Award in Spring 2019. That summer, supported by the faculty at Mason, she participated in a Critical Language Scholarship in Vladimir, Russia. Upon her return, Rile used the inter-cultural communication skills she learned from the REST department and her participation in Russian Club during her internship at the Department of Justice, working in the Office of International Affairs' Europe and Eurasia Regional Team. This past semester, she studied abroad again (cut short by COVID-19) at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow where she particularly enjoyed her classes in Russian legal tradition and constitutional law.

Riley's participation in the REST department has shaped her university experience.

I always tell people that I found a tight-knit community of professors and like-minded students that have been nothing but supportive in my exploration of Russian language and culture. I always look forward to my Russian courses and our fascinating discussions. The professors in the department are the most involved I’ve ever met – they want to see you succeed. It is thanks to their recommendation and encouragement that I have pushed myself to achieve more. Moving forward, I am excited to start a career in international legal diplomacy.