❍ Year of graduation: 1978
❍ 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?
Maria Ragucci: At the time of my graduation, there weren’t a lot of possibilities for Russian majors- I interviewed at the NSA, but was advised that I would likely never be able to travel to Russia again if I accepted that job, so I declined to pursue that. I wasn’t sure I was interested in graduate school and teaching. I ended up going to Harvard Law School (biology was something I really enjoyed, but I did not want to go to Med School), after spending a year teaching English in Japan. I worked on Wall Street, then went to the legal department of Chase Bank. I worked for 15 years, then retired after my son was born. My husband and I moved to Rye, NY, about 20 miles north of Manhattan, where we live today. I have been a stay-at-home mother for the past 19 years.
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?
Maria Ragucci: Studying Russian was exhilarating for me. I started learning it in high school, and the allure for me of a language as well as a culture infused with a sense of the forbidden, the exotic and the unknowable, persists to this day, even though, of course, the world has changed. I traveled to Russia twice in college, once for 6 weeks in then-Leningrad, and I visited again the year after law school. Although the world has changed, Russia remains a mysterious place that still fascinates. Some of my experiences in the country are the most profound of all my travels. But, professionally, there was no effect at all- except to make me stand out from the crowd perhaps! Because Russian did not influence my career, and because I graduated so long ago, when the Russian Department at Williams and employment opportunities for Russian majors were so different from what they are now.
If you would like to write to Maria Ragucci, please contact Baktygul Aliev.