Featured Undergraduate Student

Undergraduate Profile: Daria Lugina

Daria Lugina is a double major in English and Painting and has worked extensively with BU faculty and students as a Designer at the Center for the Humanities, Resident Assistant on the Fenway Campus, Artemis Project Coordinator, and Computer Science Course Assistant. Daria has been honored with the Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year Award for BU and all of Mass, the Adobe Creative Jam First Place & People’s Choice Award, several awards from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and an Award from the BU Center for the Humanities. In addition to Daria’s outstanding work inside and outside of the classroom, she is a freelance website designer and is fluent in Russian.

What energizes you about the study of literature?

The more I read and the more I write, the more I grow as a thinker and a person. I don’t want to suggest that this is something that is unique to the discipline. I think that this is how learning works, but for me the field I want to keep exploring and learning from most deeply is literature. The study of literature, whether English or otherwise, is a magical (and sometimes overwhelming!) experience because there are always new things to read, new voices to meet, and new questions to explore.

Could you describe a scene or moment that reflects your love of literature?

There is a scene in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises where Jiro is talking to his hero, Caroni, in this strange dream space that spans space and time and the barriers between individual minds. I think it’s a beautiful illustration of what the experience of reading is like. Perhaps it’s a little too idealistic, but idealism is important sometimes, I think. Literature works better if you genuinely believe in its power.

What drew you to BU and the English Major?

I knew going into college that I wanted to paint while also getting an academic degree, so BU’s dual degree program seemed like the perfect option. I ended up in the English department in a little bit of a roundabout way, but mostly because I simply could not imagine how I would spend four years in college without taking any literature classes. Having taken a few English classes for my writing requirements, I met so many wonderful people in the department I did not want to leave.

What are some of the challenges you faced at BU?

The most frustrating part of my BU experience has really been just fitting everything I want to do into four years of undergraduate study. There’s so much that I wanted to try and to do during my time here. There’s always so many interesting classes being offered across the university, and there’s always lectures to attend, and so many projects and initiatives that one can get involved in. Doing as much as possible while also leaving myself time to really dedicate myself to projects has definitely been both a balancing act and a learning experience.

What are some of your favorite works and why?

It’s too hard to pick an overall favorite, but my two favorite works I read in class would have to be George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I think both novels share a fascination with both the possibilities and limitations of humanity and are deeply interested in problems of scale and perspective, which makes them such compelling works.

What are your plans after graduation?

Eventually the goal is to go to grad school and figure out a way to continue to combine my study of literature and my painting practice beyond the structure of undergraduate study. For now, I am taking a year off to work, prepare applications, and explore career options. On top of that, I will be doing an artist residency at the Thomas Hardy Museum in Dorchester this summer thanks to BU’s Ada Draper Award. I am looking forward to a chance to learn more about Hardy and the land he wrote about. This would be a project where my studio practice and my academic work, which are always intellectually supplementing each other anyways, can come together in a really tangible way.

As a senior, do you have any advice for incoming first-year students in the English Major?

I feel a little guilty giving this advice actually, because I know it can cause a lot of anxiety, and it is hard to find free time in college, but I would say, if you can at all manage it, try to keep setting aside time for free reading. To continue to read and explore on your own is the best way to never forget why you are doing this in the first place. There’s a weird transition that happens, I think, for many people when they choose to study English because their hobby suddenly becomes their academic work, and I don’t think one can actually replace the other. There is space in your life to approach literature and reading from many angles.