I believe I was born to blog (is this a good thing or should I have higher life aspirations?), but as much as I love this job I must acknowledge that there were many amazing English bloggers before me. Rajiv Menon was one of them, and if his post-blog future is any indicator, I should look forward to the end of my college career, too. So from your current English blogger, here is the news on one of your former English bloggers.
As many seniors scramble to find jobs or figure out which graduate school they will attend, Menon already knows he will be entering the NYU English Ph.D. program next year.
Menon has always had a passion for research. He said, “Attending my English classes, researching, and writing was never a burden for me, and I actually found myself searching for research opportunities outside of the classroom. After attending a few conferences and developing my first publications, I was completely sure that this was the ideal career option for me.”
Once Menon realized his passion for research, he was supported by the GW English Department to pursue it. He believes he would not have found this career path and interest without GW’s help. “Unlike so many other undergrad programs, I always had a small classes so I got to know my professors fairly well. As I progressed in my undergraduate career, I had numerous professors I could turn to based on whatever research I was doing at the time, and often I met with professors that I took classes with in previous semesters,” he said. “My professors have been so encouraging and forthcoming with advice and constructive suggestions that I doubt that I could have achieved my goal of getting into a Ph.D. program without this support system.” Menon found he could rely on Professors Plotz, Daiya, Chu, Cook, Alcorn, Harris, and Goswami in the English department and Professor Chacko in the Geography department for support on all of his research pursuits.
Menon’s professors helped him realize the focus of his research. In particular, the department’s emphasis on global studies led him to postcolonial literature. “Had I not had the opportunity to study postcolonial and emerging literatures, I doubt I would have discovered how passionate I am about these fields. The fact that I could take so many courses within my fields of interest granted me an opportunity to develop my research interests as an undergrad, which a lot of other programs don’t allow,” he said. However, studying other periods in literature has been beneficial to Menon’s overall understanding of literature. He said, “Taking classes on Shakespeare and Milton with Professor Cook and the History of the English Language with Professor Hsy ensured that I had a strong foundation in the field and gave me new perspectives on my other research interests.”
What was really fundamental for Menon was actually having the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate. Menon recommends the Luther Rice and Gamow fellowship. He said, “My Gamow fellowship with Professor Plotz allowed me to travel to India for research and led to my first publications.” Furthermore he encourages applying to the Honors Program. “The honors program was so helpful as I was applying to graduate school, as Professor Alcorn structured the class to make sure that the readings and discussions were pertinent to our theses,” he said. Besides the research, Menon will remember the community of the English honors program. He said, “All of us developed a really strong sense of community and as we all write our theses now, we still turn to each other for support.”
Menon demonstrates that if one takes advantage of everything GW and its English department has to offer, there is a bright future in store for them. Menon’s future will include studying regionality and the concept of race in South Asian literature and film. Menon became interested in this topic after taking his first course here with Kavita Daiya and he has run with the topic ever since. He said, “As I began to research Indian literature more, I grew interested in issues of national identity and “racial” difference. As the child of immigrants from South India, I became interested in the way that regional difference defines the constructions of ‘race’ in South Asian contexts.” It is safe to say that we should expect to see many future publications from Menon.
As excited as Menon is to explore his research further, he admits he will miss GW. “I’m going to miss all the friendships that I have made through the English major and the professors who have gone out of their way to help me through my undergraduate studies,” he said. “I’m so glad that I’ll only be a bus ride away, and I imagine that I’ll be make many visits back to DC to see everyone!” We look forward to seeing you, Rajiv, and hearing about your research!