By Olivia Cuccaro
Like every other student selected for the Summer Scholars and Artists Program, Sara Hobler greatly anticipated the start of her project. Unlike any other student in the program, Sara Hobler was a freshman when she received the honor.
"People say that it's impressive that I'm a freshman doing this," Hobler said in the spring. "But, I'm just following my passion."
Hobler's research revolved around gender construction in early 20th century Russia. She explored the topic through the eyes of two different groups of Russian women: Marxist revolutionaries and literary authors.
A history major who is now a sophomore, Hobler's interest in the subject began during a Russian Culture and Civilization class.
"I was really fascinated by that period because of massive changes that were going on in Russia, especially with regards to gender," Hobler said. "There have been some scholars who argued Russia made the most progress in women's issues at this time, but many of the texts about gender are written by men. I knew I didn't want to hear what men had to say about what it was like to be a woman in Russia."
The course's instructor, Assistant Professor of Russian Sidney Dement, also served as Hobler's mentor for the project.
"Sara has an ambitious mind and a gift for posing original and insightful questions," Dement said. "Thinking with her about Russian culture and gender construction (was) an enriching experience."
Hobler, who is from Buffalo, said she hopes to publish her final paper in Alpenglow, the University's undergraduate research journal. However, her main goal is to learn as much as possible about a meaningful subject. A selfproclaimed feminist, Hobler's topic reaches a personal level.
"I came across feminism as a way to feel secure about myself as a young woman and feel strong," Hobler said. "I wanted to be able to feel safe and secure in asserting myself as a person instead of constantly be proving myself. I'm so used to hearing about women's struggles from a western perspective and I wanted to look at it from a different point of view. How women construct their own femininity and gender has always been a big curiosity of mine."
For Hobler, being a Summer Scholar is as much an undertaking as it is a gift.
"I don't doubt my abilities," Hobler said. "It would be a wrong approach to think, 'I'm a freshman, I need to be intimidated by this.' Instead, I should go into it with, 'I'm a freshman and I have a lot to learn from this.' I'm honored. All I see here is an opportunity to grow."
Last Updated: 3/1/17