From Honors Thesis to Professor of Russian

Carol Ueland

Carol Ueland with students in front of Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Carol Culley Ueland '69, Professor of Russian

Major: Russian and Eurasian Studies

Advanced Degrees: M.A., Fordham University; M.Phil., Ph.D., Columbia University

Employer: Drew University

I first came to Mount Holyoke with two years of high school Russian, taken during the 9th and 10th grades. I was placed in Intermediate Russian where I floundered for the first six weeks or so, but gradually got my skills back with the support and encouragement of the faculty.

By my junior year, we'd run out of courses, so I did a two year, 250 page honors thesis on Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago," a hugely difficult novel for a non-native speaker to read in Russian.  Professor Baluev had infinite patience as we met weekly to translate and talk through the text.  After graduation, I went on to get a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, an MA in Russian at Fordham University, and then a M.Phil and PhD at Columbia in Slavic Languages and Literatures. When I applied to Columbia, they exempted me from writing their MA essay on the basis of my Mt. Holyoke thesis.

I have had a long and rewarding career as a Professor of Russian, currently at Drew University where I direct the Russian Studies Program. My most rewarding experiences are taking undergraduates to Russia which I have done since the early 1990's.  In my teaching, I always try to remember my own early struggles to speak the language and to emulate the patience, kindness and respect with which the Russian Department at Mount Holyoke treated me.