Growing up in small-town Iowa, I spent years daydreaming about making my escape to college, which meant first and foremost a community more open-minded and intellectually vibrant than the one in which I’d been raised. I sought out an environment where my passion for creative writing would be nurtured by my professors rather than hindered by teachers eager to confiscate my notebooks, where my interest in Russian literature would be treated as an academic asset rather than a bizarre little quirk. Little did I know that I would find all this and more in a town even smaller than my own: Oberlin, Ohio.
During my years of study at Oberlin College, I found a community that combined small-town warmth and hospitality with the kind of acceptance, diversity, and intellectual curiosity that I once assumed existed only in the big city. After spending my high school years poring over Dostoevsky in between class periods, I could finally study the Russian language – and as my fluency increased, my interests expanded from nineteenth-century literature to Soviet punk. Under the pseudonym of DJ Katya, I hosted a weekly show centered around the music of the Soviet underground on WOBC-FM, Oberlin’s college and community radio station. My involvement in college radio led me to help run the station as engineer during my final three semesters, and most importantly, it provided me with an outlet to explore the band on which I ended up writing my Russian department honors thesis. I expected that my Oberlin experience would be full of surprising opportunities, but I hadn’t anticipated that this would include graduating with highest honors after writing a 100-page paper about a Soviet punk rocker!
In 2022, I received my B.A. in Russian and East European Studies and Creative Writing. Staying on campus wasn’t my initial post-graduate plan, but each time I run into my former professors around town, I’m reminded of how truly special it is to live and work in such a welcoming community. I spend much of my free time taking long walks in the woods to watch birds, so if you’ve got a passion for ornithology, I can recommend some great spots in the area. I look forward to seeing you on campus or in my travels this fall and hope that you grow to love Oberlin as much as I do.
Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio (Cinncinati, Columbus, Dayton, Eastern), Tennessee, Wisconsin