Middle East Studies

Student Spotlight: Emma Jerzyk '17

Name: Emma Jerzyk

Concentration: Middle East Studies and Computer Science

Hometown: Hinsdale, Illinois

What was your focus, and why, during your studies at Brown?

I'm a double-concentrator in Middle East Studies and Computer Science, so I'm straddling a few different things here. MES was my second concentration, which I added after taking three courses within the concentration. I've found MES to be a nice balance to my typically STEM-heavy course load, so it's helped diversify the types of classes I take as well as provide me with a different toolkit and world view. Within my MES studies, I've typically focused on History and Anthropology classes, though I'm also taking Arabic! I'm also the editor-in-chief of The Brown Daily Herald, which honestly occupies much more of my time than any of my classes, as I typically spend between 80 and 100 hours each week working on that.

What are some thoughts on Brown Middle East Studies, and your experience as a part of it, that you'd like to share?

I have greatly enjoyed my time in the Middle East Studies program for a couple of reasons: First off, I was incredibly inspired by the two professors from whom I took classes when I first dipped my toes into MES — Sa'ed Atshan and Nancy Khalek. They are incredible professors and human beings, and they are the reason I study what I do. Additionally, the nature of MES is that it is relatively new and also fraught, which makes it exciting but also tense. I am from the United States, and we are experiencing an incredible amount of discrimination and derision toward Arab and Muslim people. Not only does this make MES interesting because it has contemporary applications — meaning that what we do and say here at Brown matters — but it also means that the classes we take, the professors we work with, the MES program itself are sometimes caught up in larger political battles — whether they be about funding or the climate at large within the University. As a journalist (and one who reports on the goings on of the University) I find this fascinating and pertinent.

 And finally, any idea as to your post-graduation plans?

I am fortunate enough to have already worked out my post-graduation plans! I interned at Bain & Company, a general management consulting firm, over the summer, and I was given a return offer, which I have already accepted. I had an amazing time working at Bain over the summer because consulting really allows you to flex lots of parts of your brain. So I am excited to start working there!

Interview by Kutay Onayli '17.