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Student Spotlights

Tyler Berndt ‘23 (BA Comparative Literature with honors), a transfer student from Macomb Community College, found his home in Comp Lit, where he received a first-year writing prize and completed an honors thesis titled “Weaving Seasons of Healing in Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus”.  Read more about Tyler’s path here

David Boos ‘21 (BA Comparative Literature & Environment) combined his interests in Comp Lit and Environmental Justice.  He also received the Sweetland Upper-Level Writing Prize in the Humanities for an essay written in COMPLIT 322.  Read more about him and his interests here

Avery Sandstrum ‘22 (BA Comparative Literature) found her home in the Department while she was still in high school. Read her story on how she discovered Comp Lit, and how it brought her to the University of Michigan here.  

Anjali Sundar ‘17 (BS Biomolecular Science & Comparative Literature with Honors; Minor in Business Administration) used her interests in language, culture, and medicine to write an honors thesis titled “Looking Through the Language Lens: Encouraging Social and Linguistic Support in the Treatment of Disease for Hispanic Immigrants: Including A Comparative Study of Mental Health in Migrants”. She also served as co-editor of the online student journal, Canon Translation Review. See her talk more about her project here

Lily Talmers ‘20 (BA Comparative Literature & Philosophy; minor in Portuguese) combined a personal love for folk music and studies in Greek and Portuguese to create a distinctly unique and creative honors thesis, “Gendered Readings of Urban Folk Music: The Cases of Rembetika and Fado”, which received a Pamela J. MacKintosh Undergraduate Research Award from the University of Michigan Library.  Learn more about her thesis here.

Hannah Zonnevylle ‘21 (BS Comparative Literature & Earth & Environmental Science; Minor Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) used her reading and writing skills to obtain an internship with the Department of Environmental Quality for the State of Michigan in 2019.  She is now pursuing a PhD at Cornell University. Read more about how her major impacted her internship search here

Olivia Alge ’17 (BS, Informatics) found a way to integrate her studies in computer science with her passion for language. Her capstone project was a paid internship through Lakeside Software Company, where she translated software strings from English to Spanish. As she developed skills in technical translation and technical writing in Spanish, she was able to apply what she had learned in her translation classes to her methods of translating. Throughout her undergraduate studies Olivia also enjoyed participating in the annual U-M Translate-a-thon. Watch the full interview here


Sara Cusack ’17 (BA, Asian Studies-Chinese and Cognitive Science-Language and Cognition; Minor in Community Action and Social Change) dedicated her capstone project to volunteering as a law clerk at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). She worked with Spanish and also with Chinese in translating client declarations and correspondence, and interpreting for client meetings. As she practiced literary, legal, and technical translation, her internship also provided a platform to engage with translation as civil service and social justice, and to reflect on the ethics of translation. Watch the full interview here


Quynh Kieu ’18 (BS, Neuroscience) drew on her native language and culture to create a capstone project entitled “Translating Vietnamese Women.” She contributed English translations to Women in War: Wartime Posters from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1955-1975, and was invited to participate in a panel discussion about this U-M special exhibit at Hatcher Graduate Library. In addition Quynh translated a short story by Mai Thuy Tran, with a reflection on the role of women in Vietnam, her own role as a translator, and the expansion of her cultural knowledge through translation. Watch the full interview here.


Headshot of Thomas Degroat

Thomas Degroat ’17 (BS, Neuroscience) approached his capstone project as a translation between media. He adapted an excerpt from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, into a script designed as pilot episode for a television mini-series. Using concepts from translation theory to describe adaption from literary to film, he found new and exciting ways to think about his experience of translating. Watch the full interview here.



Headshot of Marine Barjol

Marine Barjol ’18 (BA, Political Science) developed a capstone project out of her internship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where she worked with a visiting fellow to translate his book about the Syrian conflict. Translating from French into English, she had a chance to work directly with the author to clarify questions for American readers. As an international student, she found that minoring in Translation Studies helped her become more comfortable in moving between languages. Watch the full interview here