Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Raisa Dukas

defaultName:  Raisa Dukas

Education (UR and additional): BA (Spanish & Interdepartmental Studies), University of Rochester, 2007; degree from Georgetown University 2012

Current city/state of residence:  Washington, DC—Metro Area

Job Title: Principal Research Analyst

When and how did you choose your major?

I chose my majors as a freshman.  From the beginning, I knew I wanted to study international affairs and Spanish.  Energy and the environment were also topics of interest.  As a freshman, I declared my Spanish major in the fall and then went on to create an interdepartmental major in “International Environmental Politics,” combining classes in political science, chemical engineering, anthropology, and philosophy.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

The activities I was involved in really enriched my undergraduate experience and/or were related to my academic interests:  Gamma Phi Beta, Interpres Yearbook, Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC) Undergraduate Council, Political Science Undergraduate Council, Women in Leadership, Sustainability Task Force, and MLC International Film Series founder.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I found that the skills gained in writing term papers and my honors thesis were invaluable to me in beginning my career.  Being able to integrate material from various courses shaped my thinking.  Seeing interconnections between seemingly disparate material and sources of knowledge has enhanced my ability to be a good research analyst.  Studying Spanish has given me the discipline to now learn a new language.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I see myself in a career that allows me to live overseas within the next five years.  During my time at UR, I studied abroad in three countries, and enjoyed fantastic experiences in all of them. I just got back from six months overseas in the Middle East thanks to a national fellowship and cannot wait to return!

How are you still connected with the University?

I stay connected to UR by trying to be involved in alumni events.  I was part of my class’s Fifth Year Reunion Planning Committee and I help with admissions acceptance congratulatory calls every year.  Additionally, I attend UR Alumni events in the DC metro area whenever I am able.

What advice do you have for current students?

Follow your passion.  UR resources really enable you to do anything you set your mind to do.

Spotlight on Interdepartmental Alumni: Annabelle Estera

esteraName: Annabelle Estera T5 ’10

Education: BA (Interdepartmental Studies, T5 ’10), University of Rochester; M.A. (Higher Education and Student Affairs, 2013), The Ohio State University

Current city/state of residence: Columbus, OH

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose the University of Rochester for several reasons including its reputation, the ability to take courses at Eastman, and the freedom of the curriculum. Also, the campus is beautiful!

When and how did you choose your major?

I was sort of a late bloomer when it came to choosing my major! Because of the freedom of the curriculum, I took courses across a broad range of disciplines in my first two years and by then still hadn’t made a firm decision. When it came time to decide, I decided to stick with music, but change it up a bit and focus on society rather than performance or history. Thus, my major was born in the fall of my third year: “Music in Contemporary American Society.” The intent was to pursue a career in arts administration.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I did a variety of activities on campus, including orchestra and choir for a few semesters. I also volunteered for orientation and study abroad. My deepest involvements however were with the Filipino American Students’ Association and Sigma Psi Zeta sorority.  These two groups had the greatest impact on me in developing my ethnic and racial identities and also provided many leadership opportunities. I was able to meet so many people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and continue those relationships through today.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I recently earned my MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. I am now working here full-time in the Student Life Multicultural Center as an Intercultural Specialist. I focus mainly on Asian/Asian American student initiatives (programming, advising) but am also a part of the intercultural work that our center does across different identity groups. I chose this career because I recognize the impact that the college experience has on students and I want to be part of helping to creative a positive environment for others. It is wonderful working with students, staff, and faculty who inspire me every day!

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

It’s hard to separate my major from the rest of my experience because I think of my college experience holistically. Thinking about my major was well as my Take Five program (Asian Diasporas), certificate in management studies, and work and student group experience, I was able to develop my critical thinking as well as administrative skills, both of which are highly important to my current program.  My current program is also very interdisciplinary in nature so I think it was a very natural shift from one interdisciplinary program to another. 

What advice do you have for current students?

Don’t get too hung up on the question of what a certain major will lead to.  Goals and interests do change (even after graduation!). I think for a lot of the science fields the connection is probably more apparent, but what is more important is that you are pursuing something you are truly interested in and excited about. Seek work or volunteer opportunities that pique your interest. Keep an open mind, and take in and do all you can. Each step you take and experience you have, whether you end up deciding after the fact that “this is” or “this isn’t for me” takes you one step closer to where you’re supposed to be.