SSH Student stories: Interview with Tomiris Mashan who got into the Higher School of Economics in Moscow

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Tomiris Mashan is a 2021 Summa Cum Laude graduate with major in sociology and minor in anthropology. During her studies, she actively participated in research, twice becoming a Research Assistant, being named an Outstanding Research Assistant in 2019, and having developed a research project on Almaty Clean Air petition together with Dr. Ramey Moore. Her capstone project, a part of which she presented at the European and Eurasian Undergraduate Research Symposium by the University of Pittsburgh, was titled “Against Nike, the Goddess of Slavery: Analysis of a digital transnational connective action on the issue of forced Uyghur labor at Nike sweatshops in China” and was supervised by Dr. Michael Ryan.⠀

While presiding the Sociology and Anthropology Students’ Association (@nu_s_a), Tomiris, together with a SASA team, organized the first at NU lecture and workshop on sustainable fashion.

In 2020, she was awarded a grant by the US Department of State’s Women’s Global Leadership Consortium and launched a multilingual awareness-raising platform @weneedfem, where individuals from across the world could share their narratives and views on feminism. Meanwhile, her essay on feminism in Kazakhstan was selected on a competitive basis for publication in the “Voices of Feminism” book by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Central Asia.

Passionate about resolving the global challenges like modern-day slavery and social inequalities, Tomiris is planning to pursue a Master’s degree and continue her research activity. Hence, she was accepted to the internationally accredited Master’s program in Comparative Social Research at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Here is a short interview with Tomiris about her studies, favourite classes and getting into the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

About yourself

Hi to all SSH students! I’m Tomiris Mashan, a 2021 sociology graduate (Summa Cum Laude), former @nu_s_a President, @AIESEC.astana and SUSI for Women’s Leadership program’s alumna, and a founder of @weneedfem. In this post, I’ll share my experience of being a sociology student at NU and some tips for you. 

It all started with writing the EAP project on the topic of juvenile prostitution in Thailand back in my foundation year: I realized that I should study sociology and explore the issues of social inequalities. Since then, I’ve never regretted choosing sociology as my major, because it is a science for life! 

Favourite classes 

I sincerely enjoyed all of the Soc&Anth department’s classes, but one of the most insightful classes was “Environment & Society”, while the “Social Movements” class was the one I drew inspiration from for my capstone project. I also appreciate it that our professors timely react to global events, teaching us unique classes like “COVID-19: The sociocultural aspects of a pandemic” by Dr. Michael Ryan.

Work after graduation

I believe that our Sociology program cultivates in graduates the most demanded in the job market skills. NU sociology graduates work in product and project management, research and communications, data analysis, HR, mass media, and many other fields (learn more in “NU Sociology and Anthropology Department” video on YouTube, the shooting was organized by SASA). 

Getting into the National Research University Higher School of Economics

Personally, I decided to deepen my knowledge and pursue Master’s in Comparative Social Research at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow. 

Choosing the right school and program for Master’s was not an overnight decision. Initially, Dr. Alex Miltsov has recommended me to consider HSE as a grad school. Later, I’ve surveyed hundreds of sociology programs and realized that the program at HSE will perfectly complement my current research and academic skills. Some other key factors to me were the program’s international accreditation,  top ranking, and a chance to get a full-ride scholarship. To those planning to continue education, I’d also recommend choosing the grad school by location: you should be willing to spend a year or more in the destination place! 

My biggest takeaway from 4 years at SSH is applying critical thinking and research skills in any situation. Lifelong learning that comes with a habit to research is another priceless practice that was instilled in me. Hence, my advice to freshmen is to be open to explore. The world is full of puzzles, and we are given all the necessary tools to solve them! Good luck!