Featured Student Profiles

Eshan Dabak

Name: Eshan Dabak
Status: Third year MA, International Studies/Comparative Religion
Research Foci: Hindu diaspora, American religious history, religious pluralism
Next professional endeavor: Yale Law School

Tell us a little bit about your background — what led you to the Comparative Religion MA program at the Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS)?

I went to UT Austin for my undergrad, where I entered as a business major (my parents knew business was a miserable fit, but it took me a couple years to be fully convinced of it). I discovered the wonderful Sanskrit program a year in, and by my junior year I was majoring in Economics and Sanskrit. Sanskrit led me to my first religious studies class, and I really started imagining myself teaching a course like that one day. I was interested in religious studies, theology, linguistics, etc., but I had no central research question. My senior year, I decided to apply to MA programs to give me more in-depth exposure to religious studies and allow me to formulate my driving questions.

Why did you choose JSIS for your graduate studies and what are some of its unique qualities?

I ended up choosing JSIS for two main reasons: scholarships and professors. I am extremely grateful for the very generous financial package I received, and my teachers at UT suggested that I would be able to form closer relationships with professors at UW compared to professors at the other schools on my list. Indeed, one of my professors (Dr. Wellman!) even offered me a TA position for his undergraduate class called A Life Worth Living, which has been great fun!

JSIS is unique in its design because it offers both academic- and professional- oriented programs; many of my classmates over these past two years want to pursue opportunities outside traditional academia, which has helped provide a more diverse and engaged learning experience for me. JSIS programs can thus fit into many different career plans.

What are your future career goals, and how has your experience at JSIS helped prepare you for them?

I have come to realize over the past few months how much my MA will help shape my perspective as I start law school this fall. The Comparative Religion Program has taught me to think rigorously not only about religion but also about history, philosophy, and ethics, which will provide a valuable complement to the legal thinking I will develop over the next three years. I wrote about an Indian Supreme Court case for one of my final MA papers, and I have no doubt that I am able to see the legal issues in a very different light because of the training JSIS provided. Long-term, I intend to pursue a career either in academia or in the judiciary.

Has your experience at JSIS enriched your personal growth? If so, how?

One of the major strengths of JSIS is that the resources at the rest of the UW are literally in our backyard, and my two years at UW were very important for my personal growth. I was able to participate in the campus community through working as a writing tutor at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center and playing clarinet in the wonderful wind band and orchestra programs that the music school offers all the while learning the ropes of graduate school and self-directed research and writing.