❍ Year of graduation: 2004
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Other
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?
Leigh Murname: I am currently teaching yoga in New York City. I have lived here for eleven years. My first job out of college was with CEC ArtsLink, an organization that facilitates arts exchange between the US and Russia, Central Europe, and Central Asia. After that I worked as an Office Manager and Personal Assistant, then I went to divinity school after which I returned to the corporate world for a few years. I am now teaching yoga and have been accepted into hospital chaplaincy programs for next fall.
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?
Leigh Murname: Yes. I utilized my Russian extensively during my first job out of college. I used my language skills in that job. I would not say that the Russian major presented challenges for me after college. I loved the Russian department at Williams. Professors Cassiday and Goldstein were the two professors that I got to know the best. They were kind, generous and supportive in addition to being excellent teachers. I have used my Russian skills at various times throughout the years and I imagine that I will continue to use them, especially if I begin chaplaincy work next year. In my last job I worked as Executive Assistant to the CEO and Chairman of an insurance company. During that time I was given the opportunity to learn to be an insurance underwriter at the company. I learned the business but ended up choosing to continue working as an assistant because I liked that better. However, I believe that my Russian degree from Williams gave me an advantage in the financial service industry.
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.
Leigh Murname: I would encourage a student to go for it and major in Russian. I think that students may have concerns that the degree is not practical, however, I would say that it most certainly is. Living in NYC my Russian background comes up all the time and I continue to refer to it. My studies have helped me immensely in my understanding of the world. When I arrived at Williams I had never traveled beyond Canada. My time abroad in Russia shaped me then and continues to shape me now. I hear so many people my age say that they wish they had learned a language, and I feel so grateful that I did, even though it was difficult! I was able to experience amazing things because of my Williams Russian degree. I also feel that the Russian department at Williams gave me such a solid foundation that even now 11 years after graduating I can still converse easily in Russian.
If you would like to write to Leigh Katherine Murname, please contact Baktygul Aliev.