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Meet Kaya Mallick, Fulbright Scholar 2024-25

May 30, 2024

In May we asked Kaya Mallick, who received a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program award 2024-25, about her experience in our two-year master’s degree program and her upcoming research and language training following her June 2024 graduation in South Asia Studies. In autumn she will travel to India where she will be based for 12 months as a Fulbright Scholar doing research on “Women on the Margins: An Ethnography of Hindu Women’s Ascetic Practices.” Her hometown is Boulder, Colorado.

Kaya Mallick Headshot

Kaya Mallick ’24

How did you decide to pursue your master’s degree at the Jackson School?
I knew I wanted to pursue graduate-level study of yoga, and my yoga mentors from undergraduate suggested that I reach out to Professor Christian Novetzke, who teaches in the Jackson School. He agreed to advise my master’s thesis, which was a huge draw for me. I also received the FLAS Fellowship to study Hindi at the UW. I had always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest, so once I found a great advisor and a great funding opportunity, it was a no-brainer.

What inspired you to apply for a Fulbright for research abroad?
I’m an avid traveler, and I have also had the idea for this research project brewing for quite some time. Fulbright seemed like a perfect post-Masters opportunity to pursue my own research questions and to live in India for an extended period – India is my second home, and there is so much of the country that I haven’t yet seen. Surprisingly, I haven’t been to a lot of the major yoga destinations in India, and I’m hoping this will be a great time for me to do so.

How will you be spending your time as a Fulbright.
I am affiliated with the University of Delhi, but I plan to spend the majority of my time as a Fulbrighter in the Indian state of Uttarakhand – specifically, in the city of Rishikesh, the “Yoga Capital of the World.” I will visit ashrams and yoga shalas to conduct ethnographies with female yogis about their social and spiritual practices. I am specifically interested to learn what forms of yoga these women practice; how they define ‘yoga;’ and how their yogic practices impact their overall wellbeing.

Key skills learned at the Jackson School you will take with you in your career?
In my time at the Jackson School, I developed my research skills and my professional network, which will be invaluable throughout my career. However, the most important thing I have learned is to have confidence in myself. I have read so much theory and so many literature reviews – now, I have more than enough information to form my own ideas. I just need to stand behind them!

Most impactful learning experiences you have had as a M.A. student?
I had the privilege of taking two writing workshops in my time as an M.A. student – one with Jackson School Daniel Bessner and one with Christian Novetzke. Both classes were incredible opportunities to develop my own ideas, learn my peers’ perspectives, and strengthen my writing skills. I also finished both classes with strong portfolios of written work that I can show to future employers and clients. I would definitely encourage every student to take a Jackson School writing workshop if they have the chance.

Advice to prospective M.A. students about advantages of the Jackson School?
The “Seattle Freeze” is so real! Make an intentional effort to create and maintain friendships when you first arrive in Seattle. These friends will be your support system and your lifeline throughout your degree! The Jackson School has a bounty of resources available for students, and you can maximize your degree by taking advantage of those resources: lectures, workshop series, librarians, online databases, newspaper subscriptions, equipment rentals, etc. Finally, don’t be afraid to use your professors as resources. They are wellsprings of knowledge, and they want to see you succeed!