Sara “Scout” Mills,’16

Self-Designed Russian Major

At Lewis & Clark, Scout self-designed a major that allowed her to combine her love of Russia, her love of literature, and her love of history.  Currently, she is an MA student at NYU preparing to write her thesis on nationalism and national identity in various spheres of Russian pop culture; she received the prestigious Stephen Cohen Fellowship to attend NYU’s MA program in Russian studies. Her general research interests are media, music, crime, and nationalism as it has developed in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.  In addition to studying, Scout teaches intermediate Russian to NYU students and dedicates her free time to drawing and painting. 

Scout has known that she wanted to study Russian since she was five years old. But she didn’t know why she wanted to study it until she came to know Russian literature, whose “depiction of struggle as something one can embrace and find beauty within” inspired her to learn the language and the culture. Although literature remains important to Scout, through her trips to Russia and her coursework, Scout has discovered a new love – Russian history and cultural studies. 

As part of the major, she wrote a penetrating Senior Research Thesis on Russian criminal identity, as expressed in tattoos and songs, and history of the Gulag in the Late-Soviet period.  

 Following LC, Scout received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship, and spent nine months in the subarctic town of Ukhta at Russia’s northern outpost for oil and gas education, Ukhta State Technical University, teaching English to Russian and international students. During her stay she traveled to nearly ten different Russian cities and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel around Serbia for a month on the way home, which expanded her interest in Russian to an interest in Slavic languages in general. 

Scout’s time at LC was full of other interests and activities, and these continue to inform and enrich her life. In addition to her studies, Scout was an active member of the Russian Club, a participant and coordinator in APOCALIPS Slam Poetry Club, and worked in KLC Student Radio. Her artwork was accepted and displayed during the William Stafford Symposium. She was the recipient of numerous honors, including the President’s Scholarship at LC.