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Translating Ideas: Mariya Meshcheryakova

There's no such thing as "lost iMariya Mescheryakova Studentn translation" for Mariya Meshcheryakova '12. With a double-major in economics and Russian regional studies and a minor in psychology, the recipient of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society's David Himelberg Memorial Scholarship and a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship is fluent not just in Russian, but in the art of bridging diverse academic areas.

Born in Moscow, Meshcheryakova immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 7 and grew up in Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, where she lives today. Prior to enrolling at Barnard, she didn't read or write Russian, but she began taking language courses at the encouragement of Professor Catherine Nepomnyashchy, and fell in love with the art of translation.

"I hear a lot about how certain ideas or connotations get 'lost in translation,' but I feel that is part of the beauty," she says. "Translation loses some pieces of the original but it also adds something to the original. When a work is translated, it becomes closer to a more universal text—a text that anyone can read and appreciate."

It's a philosophy that applies to her other academic pursuits. Studying both economics and psychology, she says she's particularly fascinated by the field of behavioral economics, which considers psychological effects and builds models to explain when and how economic agents will act in real-life situations. But for now this highly specialized field is just a side interest. "I want to take advantage of the opportunity for a less specialized education while I am at Barnard."

Meshcheryakova spent the summer interning at Bundle.com, a personal finance start-up, helping test the functionality of new tools that help consumers manage their budgets. While she learned some practical things to take back to the classroom, she says, "Really, it was the other way around: I took what I learned at Barnard and brought it to my work. Barnard has taught me to think through problems, pay attention to details, and work in teams."

Since she commutes from Brooklyn, Meshcheryakova is active in Skip Stop, Barnard's commuter organization, as well as Columbia's Artist Society and the Socially Responsible Investment Committee, a group of students, faculty, and alumni, who work to establish guidelines for Barnard's investment portfolio.

She's also a research assistant for Enrichetta Ravina at the Columbia Business School. "It has been really interesting to see what sort of work goes into collecting data and getting it ready for analysis," Meshcheryakova says. "We learn so much about the research process at Barnard, but there is nothing like helping a professor and learning firsthand."

J. Collins