Student spotlight: Karunya Bhramasandra

Karunya Bhramasandra

Karunya Bhramasandra

Karunya Bhramasandra is graduating this year with a degree in English and a minor in global studies (with a specialization in South Asian studies).

"I chose English because it allowed me the flexibility to turn my department-trained analytical and compassionate eye to all of the things I cared about, one of which was South Asia," she explained. "Having grown up around South Asians in the Bay Area, I had always taken it for granted until my freshman year, when it hit me that maintaining a connection with my ethnic and cultural heritage took more work than I had expected. I chose my minor because I became curious about this type of work and what it meant for one's identity and relationship to one's community and the broader American landscape."

Learn more about the Stanford Global Studies Minor with a Specialization in South Asian Studies

Tell us your favorite major/minor-related story or experience.

My favorite experience related to both my major and my minor was the first day of the first class I took with my major advisor, Dr. Roanne Kantor, during my freshman spring. The class was called The Indian Novel, and it is, to date, one of the only classes Stanford has offered that studied South Asian literature.

During that first day, instead of droning on about the syllabus, Dr. Kantor spent an hour discussing why she had called the class The Indian Novel. What does it mean to be Indian? What does it mean to be a novel? These were all questions that I and most of my other instructors had taken for granted. But she showed us in that first hour that the choices that professors make when curating a course are purposeful and deserve transparency and interrogation. Not only did I learn what the class would be about, I also learned about the scores of narratives that the class left out, which sparked my curiosity for the next three years.

Did you complete a capstone project within the Global Studies minor? If so, what did your project focus on?

I was the dramaturg for the TAPS winter mainstage play, and my main job was putting together a pre-show exhibit that explained what the 1947 Partition of the Indian Subcontinent was to audiences who were unfamiliar with the historical background. We set up an interactive, multimedia exhibit in the open space of the Roble Arts Gym, complete with live music.

As you reflect on your time at Stanford, what are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of walking everywhere. This might sound like a facetious answer, but it's changed my whole outlook. I've never had a bike on Stanford's campus so, since day one of my freshman year, I've been walking absolutely anywhere I needed to go. This ensured I was (mostly) on time for everything if you physically can't rush, you have to leave early. This also meant I have literally thousands of pictures of Stanford trees from the past four years, taken quickly on my phone as I made the trek. You're forced to slow down, to take a break, look around you, be aware. Walking also became my chief form of exercise; on good days, I'd take over 15,000 steps. I call my mom on walks, I listen to podcasts, I philosophize. I took interviews for Stanford South Asian Society as I walked. I pondered my senior thesis as I walked. Slowly, I've converted all of my friends to become walkers, and they've all expressed the same subtle joy I think walking gives you. It worked out well, but at the start of freshman year, I was just walking because I was afraid of biking.

What are your plans after graduation?

I'm sticking around for another year to co-term in Modern Thought and Literature, and after that, I'm planning to work in the PR/Journalism world.

How has your minor in Global Studies changed your understanding of the world and prepared you for your next steps?

My minor hasn't just changed my understanding of the world, it's given me an understanding of myself. Choosing to minor in South Asia was revolutionary for me: growing up in America, I was never led to believe that my history, my culture, my literature, and my art were worthy of serious scholarly study. The minor was a testament to the fallacy of that thought. I wrote my English honors thesis on South Asian American literature a perfect blend of my major and my minor, which cemented that principle for me. In simple terms, the minor taught me that I was allowed to take what I cared about seriously. Obvious, but revolutionary.


View the original article on the Stanford Global Studies website