Jan 30, 2012
Caitlyn Schuchhardt '12, Aberdeen, S.D., knew she had to go back to India. She had just visited six countries on four continents in a month as a part of the Around the World May Seminar. She came back with more questions than answers.
"Seeing slums next to shopping malls, seeing trash everywhere on the street, seeing people sleeping on the side of the road. I didn't understand why it was like this," she says.
When she made plans to study in India for a semester, her literature professor Dr. Jonathan Steinwand encouraged her to combine her interests in literature and social justice.
She did so by studying literary postcolonial ecocriticism in the context of how globalization has affected both the environment and the indigenous people of North America and India.
She visited the White Earth reservation, the setting for Winona LaDuke's "Last Standing Woman," which provided the framework for studying the activist writings of Mahasweta Devi among the Adivasi indigenous people of India this fall.
"Even though they are located on opposite ends of the globe, they both write about similar social and environmental injustices," she says.
Schuchhardt's research was on display during Concordia's homecoming celebration, and she isn't stopping there. She was selected for the student lecture series on campus and was selected to present her research at the Private College Scholars at the Capitol and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.
All these experiences will prove valuable as she prepares for graduate school. She hopes to become a professor and inspire her students in the same way she has been inspired by Steinwand.
"Dr. Steinwand showed me how the guidance of a professor can change your track in life," says Schuchhardt, who had never considered becoming a professor before Concordia. "I want to give back to my students in that way and help raise awareness of what I've been learning."