My name is Maggie Swift, and I’m a Mathematical Biology major with a Russian & Post-Soviet Studies minor. I’ve been a part of the Russian department my entire time at W&M and I couldn’t be happier! When coming into college, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to take Russian, as it wasn’t offered at my high school and I had always loved the language and culture. I immediately fell in love with the department—it’s like a family to me. I took part in Russian teas, olympics, and the St. Petersburg summer program (2016). I’ve been involved in translation research with Sasha and Elena Prokhorov for two years, and through it I have expanded my reading, listening, and even computer programming skills! The study abroad trip last summer was an amazing opportunity to expand my Russian capabilities and to finally become comfortable speaking Russian to complete strangers. I have also participated in the Russian Music Ensemble and even formed an all-female Russian barbershop quartet in my last semester. These musical outlets have given me an excuse to surround myself with Russian language and culture almost every day of my life, and I have truly enjoyed singing with my Russian department family.
In the future, I hope to use both my Russian and math abilities in a career; a job at NASA is my true dream. But I know whatever I do, my experience with Russian and the department here at William and Mary will always be with me. My study of Russian has made me more understanding of other cultures, more inquisitive and outgoing in conversation with strangers, and more discerning when reading and listening to Americans’ perceptions of Russia or other countries in shaky relationships with the US. I hope to return to Russia someday in the near future, and of course to also come back to visit the wonderful people in the department here at W&M.