Molly Brean, Class of 2013


1. Why did you choose Russian culture as your major?
There were a few pivotal choices in my first year at Princeton that brought me to majoring in Russian culture: signing up for Russian 101, taking Deborah Kaple's Soviet Gulag freshman seminar and Stephen Kotkin's Soviet Empire course, and completing the Princeton in Petersburg program. I challenge anyone not to major in Russian culture after spending a summer reading Crime and Punishment by the Fontanka and going to the Mariinsky every other night! 
 2. What is your most vivid memory of your college years?
​I'll never forget my go-to order from Chancellor Green cafe in the East Pyne basement: a large Small World cappuccino and a chocolate chip muffin (I have yet to find a baked good I love more!)
3.Which literary work (or any work of art) would you recommend to a newcomer who is interested in Russia, as one of the keys to Russian culture?
Without a doubt, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. It's a puzzle I'm still figuring out (even after reading it seven times), and it's the most divine journey through every emotion and genre one can imagine.
4.Which career path did you choose, and why?
After doing a Fulbright grant in Moscow (studying contemporary stage productions of Bulgakov's dramatic and adapted fiction works!), I wound up in management consulting with Bain & Company for four years in both the U.S. and Russia. I chose this career path because I hadn't the faintest idea what I wanted to do next, and word on the street was that consulting was a way to (start to) figure that piece out. I got a ton of exposure to different companies, industries, and kinds of work. 
5.What are you currently working on?
Now, I am using the skills that I picked up in consulting and working on the strategy and business operations team at Duolingo, the language learning app. I love that I get to marry my head and my heart at work by making language learning--the foundation of my personal development since choosing to major in Slavic at Princeton--accessible and fun for anyone on the planet. 
6.Are there any other comments that you'd like to add?
Majoring in Slavic has given me a kind of intellectual home where the door is always open (and there's a pot of shchi on the stove!). Whether it's finding other lovers of Russian literature with whom to connect or discovering new layers of meaning and resonance in rereading a known and loved book, having a hearth of ideas to continue to stoke and draw from has been a continuous source of joy for me in my years since Princeton.