Masha's Story


Hi. I’m Masha Shollar. I’m an English Major with a focus on Creative Writing and am originally from Pittsburgh, PA.

In some ways coming to YU was a culture shock. I was raised Chabad and, though my sister had graduated from Stern College for Women, I didn’t really know anyone here. I wasn’t familiar with the campus, seminaries and cultural references others took for granted.

Two weeks after school started I joined the Observer, Stern College’s student newspaper. It was a valuable experience learning how to interview people and stay on deadline. Later, I became editor in chief of the paper. Today I’m co-editing YU’s Journal of Fine Arts, where I've been able to meet people from backgrounds totally different from my own and learned so much from the friends I’ve made. I found other intellectually curious people that I can talk to about politics, art, philosophy, and life.

I came to college with a very vague plan, and I got to wander a little...YU has a good environment to do soul searching; Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What is my belief system? When you are asking yourself these questions, it’s good to be around people (professors, rabbis, other students) who know what they’re talking about.

As a Literature Major, I appreciate that the English Department is small enough that you can get to know all the professors while also being large enough to cover a wide range of genres. I’ve had the opportunity to suggest courses I wanted to take as well as conduct research. Last year I received a Kressel Fellowship to study androgyny in the works of novelist Virginia Woolf under Professor Dr. Seamus O’Malley.

I think that there's a perception of literature classes as a sort of book club where everyone talks about what they love about a novel, but really, literature majors are trained in logical analysis; we're taught how to think clearly and how to make a point incisively. I've been trained to look for themes, patterns, and motifs and to connect those to history, society, culture, the author or the genre of the novel in question. Judaic courses and literature courses inform one another to deepen your understanding of both disciplines. These are skills that I don't think you can get anywhere else.