English Literature Major, Gender and Women’s Studies Minor
Nicole Holtzman was awarded a Ford Fellowship to research the roles of
women in Serbia today. She spent a month traveling to different cities and
small villages in Serbia to interview women in her family and ask them how
their gender has affected their lives. Nicole is currently writing an essay explaining
her findings and also plans to create a film using the interviews and other
footage that she obtained during her travels.
What inspired you to pursue your research?
I was inspired to pursue this project by both my professors, like Rob Smith, and my family, all of whom encouraged me to further understand both myself and the larger picture of what life is like for other women in different parts of the world.
What has been the best part of this project?
The best part of my project was traveling to Serbia. It is unreal to me that I was able to immerse myself so much into Serbian culture. Although I have Serbian parents, I have not spent much time in Serbia, so this project allowed me to both connect with my roots and to learn more about how gender affects women's lives in Serbia. (Photo right: Nicole conducted a lot of her research in Vizic, Serbia, her grandfather's village.)
Can you give an example of how your classroom experiences at Knox benefited you during this experience?
The Ford Fellowship is one that requires a lot of independent research. The courses that I have taken at Knox prepared me for this larger scale research project. My English classes always required at least one large research essay due by the end of the term. After taking many of those English classes, it has not been difficult for me to motivate myself to stay on schedule for my Ford project. (Photo right: Nicole, second from left, visited the Serbian History Museum in Belgrade.)
How do you think this experience will contribute to your future plans?
I plan to become an English literature professor. The Ford Fellowship has assured me that I am capable of conducting research, but it has also assured me that I very much enjoy doing so. Now I have no doubt that becoming a professor is what I will do in the future.
This fellowship has also led me into creating an Honors project, which will further benefit me because it will give me the chance to conduct more independent research. In terms of personal development, the project has taught me how to work even better with others. I have been working closely with Rob Smith, my project advisor, throughout the whole process, but I also worked with a Serbian to English translator and with the women I interviewed in Serbia. All of these people taught me new skills that will be much needed in my future.