Anna Mukamal

Degree and Year: 
BA 2017
Professional Title: 
PhD Candidate in English
Employer: 
Stanford University

Professional Background: 
Matriculated to Stanford's English PhD program directly upon graduation from Duke in 2017

How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
I credit the English Department at Duke University with nurturing my developing desire to be a lifelong learner. At present, this principle—love of learning as the guide of life—will likely lead me to become a university English professor. I am committed to a both/and perspective, an intellectual posture that appreciates and even thrives among nuance, an apparent contradiction, and tension. These elements, epitomized in the ever-expanding and diversifying body of English literature, certainly have the potential to provoke discord—among readers from distinct backgrounds, among those with the power to canonize or reject a given text. Yet my time in the Duke English Department convinced me that literary study, in fact, promotes an enhanced understanding of and affinity for the multidimensionality of human nature in an increasingly globalized collective modern consciousness. In short, literary study is the disciplined pursuit of attentiveness to detail, respect for different voices and the stories they tell, and heightened attunement to what makes the written word speak to us (and, we imagine, to those who will invariably succeed us). The Duke English Department showed me the merit of literary study as well as the value of a humanities education. I am grateful for what will certainly be a long-lasting influence on my professional trajectory, either in academia or some other educational environment to which my Stanford Ph.D. may lead me.