❍ Year of graduation: 1981
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Academia
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Hilde Hoogenboom: Since 2010, I am a professor of Russian literature, language, and culture at Arizona State University. I went to graduate school at Columbia University, where I began teaching Russian since 1989. In 1995, I became a professor and have taught at the College of Wooster OH, Stetson University FL, Macalester College MN, and the University at Albany NY.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Hilde Hoogenboom: I grew up speaking two languages, Dutch and English, and in high school, I learned French, German, and Russian. I was a Russian and English major at Williams, and studied abroad in West Germany, where I studied German-Russian translation with Svetlana Geier, Solzhenitsyn’s German translator. When I graduated, I first went to study Russian in Leningrad, and then moved to London, where I lived and worked for two years. I got two jobs because I knew Russian, French, and German, first at the British Council of Churches, where I worked with the first Soviet church delegation to visit Great Britain, and then at the Consumers’ Association. Then I returned to study in Leningrad for another year, and in graduate school, would do archival work in Moscow for another two years. Upon my return to the United States, I moved to Cambridge, MA, where I worked as a researcher for the Russian dissident historian Aleksandr Nekrich at the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. I was able to go to Columbia University because I was a Tyng Scholar at Williams, and the Tyng paid for three years of graduate school. In graduate school in NY, in addition to teaching Russian, I had two really interesting jobs. I took tour groups to the Soviet Union and Poland for tourism and to meet counterparts. We traveled to the Soviet Far East on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, we traveled around Central Asia along the Silk Road, and visited the Caucasus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. My other job was as a researcher and interpreter in Russian and German with NBC for the summer Olympics in Korea in 1988 and in Barcelona in 1992. I was asked to do this job by Sam Flood, William ’79, who contacted Williams to ask if they had graduated students with Russian and German. I worked with a handful of other Williams alumni in Korea. Finally, with my husband, Mark Cruse, a professor of French as ASU, we translated the memoirs of Catherine the Great from French into English. They have been published in the Modern Library series at Random House (2005), and translated into Finnish (2007). We worked together in the archives in Moscow with her actual memoirs, written in her own hand.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Hilde Hoogenboom: Study Russian and other languages and apply for scholarships to study abroad. My students work and study all over the world. They go on to be teachers, lawyers, international social workers, intelligence analysts, diplomats, journalists, economists, and so on. They have gotten Fulbrights, Borens, and Gilmans to support their study abroad.
If you would like to write to Hilde Hoogenboom, please contact Baktygul Aliev.