As a high school student in Florida, Sneha loved literature and enjoyed writing creative short fiction and academic essays. Although unsure about a potential career path, Sneha came to Northeastern hoping to learn how to become a more complex thinker, reader, and writer. She graduated in May 2017 with a BA in English and a minor in psychology.
This is Sneha’s Northeastern Story…
“I was accepted to Northeastern’s University Scholars Program, a really great, robust program here on campus that highlights the idea of the student making the best path and taking into account all the things that Northeastern can offer.”
Sneha became an English major because the degree program offered her opportunities to study literary works across a range of historical periods and national literary traditions, and to hone her abilities to interpret difficult texts, write meaningfully, and engage thoughtfully with new ideas and experiences. Sneha thought a degree in English would provide her with the capabilities she desired for thinking and writing in the world in a variety of contexts.
“I did have quite the long path into English. I changed my major four times, so it was kind of exciting for me to wind up here. I talked to one of my English teachers in high school, and it was funny because by that time I had already made up my mind to be an English major, and she sent me an email that said, ‘I was expecting this conversation to happen at some point.’ So here I am!”
Upon declaring a major in English, Sneha discovered a particular passion for reading and writing about two areas of study: South Asian literature and modern and contemporary fiction.
In the class Global Literature to 1500, taught by Professor Marina Leslie, Sneha read classical literary epics, and found herself drawn to exploring the relationship between foundational early European and Indian literary traditions. For her final paper, she compared Homer’s Iliad and the Mahabharata. Finding that the only English translation of the Mahabharata dated to the nineteenth century, Sneha translated portions from the original Sanskrit into modern English for this project.
Sneha took a range of classes with Professor Patrick Mullen, a specialist in modern Irish literature. These classes sparked her interest in modernist fiction and, specifically, the work of James Joyce. She took classes with Professor Mullen on Joyce’s novels Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, and found that reading these difficult texts in the intimate setting of the undergraduate seminar made them more accessible and contributed to her developing interests in critical literary study.
I was doing some research, and I realized that there has been no full English translation of the Mahabharata in English since the 1850s. I remember at the end of a class, Professor Leslie said, “The fact that you noticed this gap in research is really important and really interesting. That’s where research comes from. You know that there’s something that needs to be done and you can do it.” That’s kind of been my mindset ever since.
Sneha’s interests in modern European literature (and the work of James Joyce specifically) led her to enroll in a Dialogue of Civilizations in Dublin. As part of this Dialogue, which was led by Professor Patrick Mullen, Sneha was immersed in Irish culture and studied Joyce’s Dubliners while walking the same streets in historic Dublin that Joyce once did. Her classes were held in the famous Irish Writers Center, and she met a number of contemporary Irish writers who visited their class sessions to discuss their work, share insight into their writing processes, and help students explore the influence of the nation’s literary traditions on Irish writers today.
Sneha applied these experiences studying Joyce and modernist literature to her own creative writing when she developed an independent experiential research project following her Dialogue. Interested in exploring the relevance of modernist literary techniques for authors writing today, Sneha composed a collection of short stories written from the perspective of children, applying the experimental narratives strategies she studied in her classes at Northeastern to scenes taken from contemporary life. This project, which she titled Northeast, was funded by a Scholars Independent Research Fellowship through the university and was supervised by Jeremy Bushnell, a published novelist who teaches in the English department. Sneha shared this work at the University Scholars Research Symposium in September 2015. She plans to refine it after graduating.
That was kind of the mentorship I really needed, and so it was great to have a faculty member who was flexible to work with that. It wasn’t like he was demanding me to really send my research or change my project in any way. He was, like, “Think about this. Think about that.” And that was very helpful.
Sneha will continue to study modern and contemporary fiction and the literature of the South Asian diaspora as she develops a thesis for Honors in the Major that examines the fiction of Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri. With the support of faculty adviser Professor Bonnie TuSmith—who is a specialist in multiethnic literature, American literature, and the contemporary short story—Sneha will analyze the different ways these two authors of Indian descent respond to issues of migration, community formation, and cultural belonging in their work.
Sneha’s thesis project is funded by a grant from Northeastern University’s Undergraduate Research Initiative, a program that encourages undergraduates to design, develop, and implement individual research projects under the supervision of faculty mentors. Sneha hopes to share her findings at professional research conferences next year, and she believes her work will contribute to our understanding of the formation of South Asian subcultures and their representation in literature.
I’m doing co-op in the fall. It’s at Fidelity Investments. I’m working in the Innovations Lab with a team that does seminars and events for emerging technologies, and so it’s really cool because it feels like a start-up within this giant company, and what we’ll be doing is bringing in speakers, running trade shows, running hack-a-thons — stuff that I’m interested in and am good at doing, but didn’t realize that people did in the corporate sector.
In her undergraduate classes in the English department, Sneha was able to turn her love of reading and writing into an innovative scholarly research project. This research grew out of English classes that exposed her to new ways of thinking about literature and culture, and equipped her with the writing skills to develop her own independent creative and scholarly projects.
*Updated August 2018* Sneha graduated from Northeastern University in 2017. After working as a paralegal at the MA State Attorney General’s Office for one year, she has gone on to study at Columbia Law School.
The reason why you’re in college is to learn how to think. And once you know how to think, you can do anything. So because of English, I feel like I really know how to think. I wouldn’t say there are any doors that are closed when it comes to the future if you are an English major.. There are a lot of different programs where that’s definitely something that happens as a consequence of what you’re studying, whereas in English, you really have a lot more freedom to both shape your own path in college, and also for the future.
Northeastern Department of English