Creating Your Own Path
Antarah Chopra ’23 has always had a keen interest in global history, cultures, and languages. From a young age, she has also pursued opportunities involving social justice activism, education, human rights, policy studies, and women’s empowerment. After taking Intro to Global Development Studies (GDS) at Grinnell and learning about Associate Professor Leif Brottem’s research on livelihoods in West and Central Africa and his experience working with the Peace Corps in Benin, she wanted to be a part of it. Chopra went on to become his research assistant.
“I enjoyed conducting research in the GDS field. The courses required for the concentration are incredibly diverse and offer an array of paths through the concentration. It allows you to create your own path,” Chopra says. “Studying GDS opened an entire career field that I didn’t know existed; [I can] create my own opportunities based on what I’m interested in. It’s shown me that I can make a difference in the world if I am passionate about something.”
Her concentration in GDS complemented her double major in political science and Spanish. It provided a liberal arts perspective on international issues, equipping her with the skills to be able to take action in areas she was passionate about, Chopra says. Moreover, her work with Brottem allowed her to work on projects conducted by Amnesty International and BBC World. His guidance led to her research in farmer-herder conflicts in West and Central Africa; she also contributed to his publication distributed by the African Center for Strategic Studies. Chopra’s work with Brottem has impacted her career path and academic interests, opening her eyes to the social science research fields and sparking a passion for doing similar work in the future.
“Learn from the faculty and from your peers. Everyone here is passionate about what they do, and they know a lot,” Chopra says. “Branch out, take risks, and trust your gut. Grinnell has so many resources, and every department has a variety of faculty equipped and willing to help students on their journeys.”
Chopra says she wasn’t aware of the GDS research field before she arrived at Grinnell. However, she did know she wanted to have a global focus in her education and career.
“I took a chance on a class, and a professor took a chance on me,” she says. “I now have more opportunities than I had imagined possible.”