Springboard to Russia

Morgan Richardson is a recent TU graduate currently embarking on a year-long Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Russia. This is her story of how the school she learned to love acted as a springboard for her new-found Russian dream! Keep watching for updates from her adventure in the coming months!

Greetings, all! This blog post, like the many excellent others on this website, will discuss my time at TU and some of the unique opportunities this school afforded me. I hope you will take away at least this message: the best experiences in life are those that are unexpected.

cge-blog-2Perhaps unlike some of my esteemed TU colleagues, my decision to attend this school was one made out of desperation. I knew that The University of Tulsa was an excellent school, but the thought of attending a college in the same town as my parents was lame. Fortunately for me, the then Dean of Student Affairs (now Vice President) Earl Johnson helped my decision-making process. The personal attention he provided was a harbinger for the individualized attention inside and outside of the classroom for which this school is known. I’m just glad someone talked enough sense into me!

Fast forward a few months to halfway through freshman year. I was taking political science classes and was enjoying meeting new friends and getting involved with on-campus activities, but I wondered: what else is out there? Since I have always liked challenges, I went to the language department and tried to enroll in an Arabic language class. TU didn’t offer Arabic. However, TU did (and still does) offer Russian, that “scary” language that all the bad guys in movies seem to speak. Russian is pretty unique and definitely challenging, so I enrolled in a beginner class and soon fell in love. The culture, language, history and people are amazing, and the TU’s Russian Department Chair Professor Elena Doshlygina is an incredible teacher!

Once I was fully committed to TU (declared my majors in political science and Russian studies with a French minor), I was ready to seek other, extracurricular activities. Due to my love of Russian language, it totally made sense to join TU’s Russian Club. In this capacity, I learned numerous professional skills and met some of the most interesting international students. I also found another home in the Housing Department where I was an Apartment Community Assistant for three years. I don’t intend to brag by mentioning a few of the hats that I wore while at TU, but I want to stress the innumerable opportunities open to students if they open themselves to new and sometimes scary things. When I left high school, I never saw myself as a Russian major who would work in my school’s Housing Department, but things just happened that way. And I’m extremely pleased that they did.

The semester I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg, Russia was truly magical. I felt as if the past three years of work inside and outside of the classroom at TU prepared me to thrive in a culture very different from my own. The excellent instruction I received in my Russian and political science majors made the transition to my Russian-language social sciences classes relatively simple. Additionally, TU’s ability to meet and often exceed my thrill-seeking tendencies helped to make life in a Russian city comfortable. Whenever I was confronted with potentially scary situations, I easily accessed a memory bank of similar experiences at TU. This ability to adapt to life in Russia due to my studies at TU changed my life. I feel more confident than ever to reach for incredibly high goals. And even if I don’t always achieve what my heart desires, I know that the person who beat me must have been darn good! 😉

To wrap this story up, I’ll give the latest installment of my life’s plans, keeping in mind that my professors and employers at TU helped me to reach many of these achievements. I am the recipient of a 2015-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Russia, and upon return from Russia, I will pursue a dual MA in Russian Studies/MPA in Public Policy at Indiana University!

I hope that even if you don’t remember a single thing that I wrote, you remember the importance in seeking opportunities down the least traveled paths!