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Congratulations to our 2014 South Asia Graduates!

June 15, 2014

Kevin JohnsonKevin Johnson, MA South Asian Studies (Jackson School), MPA Public Administration (Evans School).

Future plans: Summer internship in Federal Way with World Vision’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs. I’ll mostly be doing donor communications, fundraising and grant-writing.

Awards and honors: Academic Year FLAS 2013-2014; Summer FLAS 2012; Marc Lindenberg award (Evans School); Excellence in Public Service award (Evans School)

Interests: I’m interested in how development discourses become hegemonic; in other words, who talks about development, which ideas receive greater attention, and whose voices are left out of those discussions.

MA paper topics: (1) Media representations of microfinance pioneers Muhammad Yunus and Ela Bhatt. (2) ‘Participation’, gender, and sanitation projects in rural India.

Favorite JSIS class: Priti Ramamurthy’s Women and International Economic Development (JSIS B 345).

Advice for future JSIS students: Take a language class each quarter, and try to take at least one quarter of a language outside your comfort zone, or what seems useful to your trajectory.

Rafeel WasifRafeel Wasif, MA South Asian Studies (Jackson School).

Future plans: Starting a PhD in Political Science at the University of Washington.

Awards and honors: Fulbright scholarship from Pakistan, 2012-14.

Interests: The intersection of new media (internet), NGOs, and Political Islam.

MA paper topics: (1) Internet and the public sphere in Pakistan. (2) Madrassas as firms: madrassas’ resistance to Western donor funding in Pakistan.

Favorite JSIS class: My first JSIS South Asia core course (JSIS A 508) was really memorable. I had recently come to the US, and had really interesting discussions, and was exposed to extremely diverse ways of thinking. I think that really helped me develop my intellectual capacities during my two years at the Jackson School.

Advice for future JSIS students: Always be open to new ideas. You may have very different ideas regarding what you want to do during your graduate school. However, you learn a lot, and may realize that your interests change during your time. So do not be hesitant to change, but rather embrace it. Also, always have a life outside graduate school. It makes you a better scholar, as well as keeps you motivated towards your work.

Seth PowellSeth Powell, MA Comparative Religion (Jackson School).

Future plans: My family and I will be moving to Cambridge, MA at the end of the summer where I have been accepted with full funding into the PhD program in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard.

Awards and honors: American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) Fellowship for Sanskrit – Summer 2014 (declined); Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for Hindi – Summer 2014 (declined); Eugene and Marilyn Webb Scholarship in Comparative Religion – 2014 $2,500 awarded by Jackson School of International Studies, UW; Graduate School Fund for Excellence and Innovation — Oct. 2013 $300 awarded for conference travel by the Graduate School, UW.

Interests: Indian Religion, Sanskrit, Yoga Studies.

MA paper topic: “Yoga on Trial: The Imbrication of Yoga and Religion in Sedlock v. Baird”

Favorite JSIS class: I loved TA’ing for Dr. Kyoko Tokuno’s Winter course, JSIS 202: Intro to World Religions: Eastern Traditions. Getting to introduce undergrads to the major topics, history, and ideas of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism is incredibly exciting and has the potential to radically alter your experience as a grad student. Some of my favorite moments at JSIS were “teaching highs” when I was able to inspire and challenge students to think about themselves and their world in sometimes profoundly new ways.

Advice for future JSIS students: The JSIS is an exciting place to study, and is stacked with incredible faculty and resources (particularly for students of South Asia)! However, due to its highly interdisciplinary nature, you can at times feel like you’re on your own in your program, having to traverse the mysterious pathways of grad school by your lonesome. Go out of your way to make community, seek assistance, and to put yourself out there with faculty and staff. The SA grad student talks and chais are great for this reason. Don’t be afraid to knock on Profs’ doors, and make yourself known. The more energy you put into your experience at UW the more benefit you will receive.