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Student view: Transforming

January 24, 2022 - Raven Nelson

Raven Nelson is a James Madison College junior, double majoring in social relations and policy, and comparative cultures and politics, with a potential related area in French. Originally from Westland, Michigan, Nelson attended John Glenn High School and is currently a CCP student senator in James Madison College Student Senate. After college, Nelson plans on earning a master’s degree in Chicago, London or California.

My time here at JMC has been really transformational for me as a student but also as a person, and I think the person who has helped shape and ignite that transformation is Professor Das Gupta.

When I first came to JMC, I was a clueless freshman, who was super excited about college but especially JMC. All the things we were learning in my MC201 class were new concepts that I had never known before.

I came to MSU wanting to go to law school and, now (after many changes), I’ve decided I want to become a professor. I want to educate and engage with students in a similar way that JMC professors do.

Professor Das Gupta was my section professor, a much smaller class than the Intro to Public Affairs, where she helped us develop our thoughts about the readings as well as guide us all back on track sometimes. I met with her outside of class during her office hours a few times, and one time we talked and got to know one another.

It was then that she asked me which major I was interested in, and I explained to her that I wanted to learn about cultures outside of the U.S. and explore key aspects like how politics and culture intertwine. In my mind, I was going to pick international relations (IR), but after she spoke with me about her accomplishments and the topics she teaches, I decided comparative cultures and politics (CCP) was more for me. I haven’t regretted that decision since speaking with her.

Professor Das Gupta not only spoke with me that day, giving me insight, but she was the first professor in JMC that I felt I could turn to for guidance outside of my classes with her. She became to me like a mentor, and I will be forever grateful to her advising me to pick CCP as one of my majors as well as being someone I could turn to as a first-generation college freshman.

CCP it is my favorite major. Why? Because CCP has us look outside the U.S., beyond our understandings of history in America, and explore different parts of the world we hear virtually nothing about in the U.S. — the parts of the world that face greater hardship at times than us, due to the same foundational cracks all nations possess.

As a student in CCP, my appreciation for other cultures and people has grown significantly as I come to understand the foundational cracks like colonialism, different nations’ identities, nationalism and globalization on a complex level that helps shape my empathy and compassion for those who suffer beyond my realm of reality. That compassion is something I must thank CCP for along with a more multifaceted knowledge that can be applied to not just my majors CCP and SRP but also outside the classroom, and that’s extremely important to my development as a person and future educator and advocator.