Three Gallatin alumni—Saransh Desai-Chowdhry (BA ’20), Valerie Kipnis (BA ’16), and Valerie Tu (BA ’20)—were awarded Fulbright Grants to travel to India, Ukraine, and Taiwan, respectively.
Desai-Chowdhry, a recipient of the Dean's Award for Graduating Seniors and the author of Soundstorm (New Degree Press, 2020), graduated with a concentration in Cultural Entrepreneurship which centered around the synthesis of commercialization, development, and the social productivity of cultural products, including music.
“This project is, in many ways, my own attempt at cultural entrepreneurship, drawing upon many of the disciplines I explored during my time at Gallatin, from business to sociology to cultural analysis to musicology,” says Desai-Chowdhry. For the Fulbright, he applied to an Research/Study (R/S) award and plans to analyze and document the shifting role of emerging independent artists in the Indian music market from both a commercial and cultural perspective.
Tu will be doing an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Taiwan. A Taiwanese American who was part of NYU’s Taiwanese American Student Society, Tu is also deeply interested in the politics of food and intends to make a zine on the side of Taiwanese food in her location. Her Gallatin concentration considered the intersection of food, culture, and human behavior. “I've always been very in touch with my culture and my heritage,” she said. “I decided to pick somewhere I had a really deep connection to.”
An immigrant and writer, Kipnis was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, graduating from Gallatin in 2016 with a concentration in intersection of Post-Soviet history, literature, political philosophy, and creative writing. Post-graduation, she traveled to Ukraine thanks to a Dean’s Award for Summer Research and spent three months speaking to female dissident women artists.
Kipnis plans to return to Ukraine funded by a Creative Research/Study award. Noticing that the choice to speak Ukrainian was a political one for the generation born between the 1991 fall of the USSR and the 2014 Ukranian Revolution, Kipnis plans to interview people in four geographically-diverse cities about their language choices.
“I’m essentially doing a similar thing as my concentration, asking young Ukranians: How is it that you narrativize your own identities?” Kipnis said, adding, “I really love Gallatin and all the opportunities it’s afforded me, and how it’s sparked my curiosity. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.”
Along with the finalists, at the time of publication, Julianna Bjorksten (BA ’20) was named as an alternate for an ETA award to Italy and Aine Nakamura (MA ’20) is awaiting an update on an R/S award to Germany. Congratulations and safe travels to all.
—Lau Guzmán (BA ’22)