BA in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Riley Hester, 2021

Riley Hester

How did you choose your degree program?

After participating in the NSLI-Y Scholarship program in high school, I knew I wanted to study global affairs. When I applied to Mason, I applied for this program and was able to narrow down my interests to international development. I also quickly fell in love with the Russian studies department with its amazing professors and interesting classes. After two semesters as a Russian minor, I switched to a major. I have loved how my majors relate to one another. I think my region-specific knowledge from Russia really strengthens my analysis through the multi-disciplinary lens provided by global affairs.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

There have been so many opportunities throughout my classes to pursue independent topics of research. The theory, policy, and models that I learn in class can be readily applied to my own independent research inquiries but also overlap with other classes. There were many occasions that I was able to look at a few topics across courses but through their different lenses (cultural studies, economics, conflict studies, history, and environmental studies to name a few).

What accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of my participation in the Critical Language Scholarship in Summer 2019. I was given the opportunity to be immersed in Russian language and culture while studying the language intensively. I am also very proud of my participation in the Global Politics Fellows program in Fall 2019. It was an incredible experience being in a small cohort and making meaningful connections there, but also in my internship experience as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible.

My advisors and professors in the Russian studies department made my college experience fun, inviting, interesting, intellectual, and meaningful. They were always positive and ready to help when I came to them with problems or with questions about a particular opportunity or field of study. They encouraged me to push outside of my comfort zone and apply for fellowships and study abroad experiences that made my Mason career more meaningful.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I will be attending New York University in the fall to pursue an M.A. in Russian and Slavic Studies with a concentration in international relations. After I complete my program of study, I hope to return back to the Washington, D.C. area to pursue a career in cultural diplomacy.