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More than just our faculty make the UNC Asian Studies Department an incredible resource on campus. This interview with Mercedes Deramgozin, the 2019-2020 Asian Studies work-study assistant, offers a special behind-the-scenes chat with someone who helps to keep our department running smoothly every day!

Tell us about yourself, Mercedes!

Hello! My name is Mercedes  Deramgozin and I am a sophomore student at UNC Chapel Hill. Contrary to popular belief, I was not named after the car nor do my parents own a Benz :). I was actually named after a character in a book called The Count of Monte Cristo. I am currently a Peace War and Defense major and a Persian minor, and I plan on going into the psychiatry field in the future. Some of my hobbies include sketching, reading books, and playing the guitar.

What made you apply for our work-study position here in Asian Studies?

One of the main reasons why I applied to this job is my own personal connection to Asian studies. During my freshman year, I dealt with a lot of anxiety and stress (as does any college student). Some of the classes that I looked forward to attending were those in the Asian studies department. My Persian language classes with Dr. Adel were the highlight of my day, as they made me feel a connection with my heritage. Taking classes with her made me feel more confident in speaking my mother language. Now that I am a PWAD major and Persian minor, I have many classes that overlap with Asian studies and I thoroughly enjoy all of them.

Did you have any exposure to Asian Studies before taking this job?

Prior to being a PWAD major, I was a Chemistry major and I didn’t have much space in my schedule to take the classes I wanted. I did take a few classes that interested me, and they happened to be in the Asian Studies Department. Even though I plan on going into pre-medicine, these classes persuaded me to change my major into something that I equally enjoy. So while I am taking my pre-med requirements, I am also studying other subject material that intrigues me through my major.

What is it like working in the department?

Working in the Asian Studies Department is one of the favorite things in my busy days. All the staff and faculty members are so welcoming and kind that New West has become one of the main places on campus where I feel safe and included.

What advice would you give other students at Carolina?

Students who may want to study something that they feel does not relate to their career path should definitely consider pursuing it. Being in a liberal arts college means you get to study a diverse range of subjects without the stress of being limited to your major or path. Another thing I may suggest is finding a hobby, volunteering, or working a position that isn’t necessarily related to your field of study. By doing this, you might find out something about yourself that you didn’t know before. If you are able to manage your time and schedule, it is definitely worth opening your scope in studies. I feel this is one of the main ways a college campus can become inclusive and diverse in thought.

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