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An interview with Tara Safaie

Name: Tara SafaieTara Safaie
Hometown: Vienna, VA
William & Mary activivities: Photography Club: President, Club Volleyball, Admissions Office Tribe Ambassador and Tour Guide, Senior Class Gift: Photography and Videography Committee, Phi Eta Sigma & Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Societies, Administrative Appointment to Honor Council and Student Conduct Council Appeals Board ('09-'10)
Future goals: After graduation, I will be joining IBM as an entry-level consultant. I would like to work in Communications consulting, specifically for the fashion and retail industry. 

Why did you choose William & Mary?

I had certain criteria in picking a college (somewhat close to home, strong academics, small to medium sized, etc.) and W&M fit the bill for all of them. But what really pushed me over the edge in picking this school was how welcomed I felt. From my very first interactions with the W&M community, I felt as though I was being brought into a large family. The professor I contacted for responses to questions I had about the International Relations department not only answered them-and more!- but invited me to sit in on his senior seminar one afternoon. He even spent time showing me around campus. I soon realized that this wasn't out of the ordinary! From admissions documents to people who helped me when I got lost around campus, I could tell the W&M community was a group of smart, genuine people with a bit of a sense of humor about college and life in general. Those were exactly the type of people I wanted to surround myself with.

What's an example of a scholarly project that you've been involved in?

I spent three semesters as a research assistant for the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. One of the professors involved in running the project saw my freshman Monroe project (which was IR-related) and approached me about helping out with the AidData project. As a research assistant, I coded information provided by developmental aid donors that would go into the AidData database. The presentation of this information is intended to improve transparency in the developmental aid community, and allow researchers data for analysis of donation patterns, efficiency studies, etc.

What programs have enriched your experience as a Monroe Scholar?

I sincerely enjoyed living in Monroe Hall. Not only was I in a great part of campus and in a great room, I was surrounded by people who were ambitious, intelligent, and just a wee bit nerdy. Many of these students would end up doing similar research projects as me, and we supported and aided each other through that process as well.

What makes being a Monroe Scholar special?

The resources you get to take advantage of! Priority registration as a freshman really helps get you into amazing classes to start your college career off right. Monroe lunches are a great way to meet faculty and hear about interesting research initiatives around campus. Monroe Hall provides a freshman experience unlike any other. And of course, the research grants provide an unmatched opportunity to supplement your undergraduate academic experience. What more could one ask for?

How has the Monroe Scholar program enhanced your William & Mary experience?

Being a Monroe Scholar gave me exceptional resources through which I could better pursue my academic interests related to my field of study but also other, unrelated interests that I will probably not have a chance to dedicate significant time and resources to later. This was best exemplified in my senior Monroe project in which I got to devote a summer to my hobby of photography. I don't plan on ever becoming a professional photographer but I am not sure when the next time will be that I can devote 3 months to the hobby, truly engrossed and learning. So, I proposed a photography project and sociology project for my final Monroe project. I studied the role of material objects and how they help first or second generation Americans establish connection to a physical place, whether it be a small town or the U.S. as a whole, and then how that connection is communicated-successfully or unsuccessfully-to the future generations that inherit the physical object. I documented the interviews through photographic portraits of the people with their objects. I probably would never have been able to do this without W&M and the Monroe Scholarship! And ultimately, I think college is about developing yourself as a whole person, and my experiences through the Monroe program definitely enhanced that!