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Natalie Briggs ’21

In a completely new realm of study, Briggs is applying her knowledge to tackle this independent research project head-on. She is examining and comparing various works to determine the literary connections and differences among them, as well as exploring how they develop or contribute innovations to the spiritual gothic genre.

Q. How do you think that this experience with Richter will impact your future?
A. Being a Richter Scholar allowed me to learn a lot about how I learn. Previously, all of my experience with schooling and research had been toward some end goal. What was new about the Richter program was that there was no big test at the end and no boxes I had to check off to know I completed a course. Rather, the program is really self-driven. This is the first time I got to decide what was relevant. It’s different, and I like it.

Q. How will your Richter work help you during the academic year?
A. Being part of the Richter program has given me a new confidence in that it’s taught me how to build my own argument without using bits and pieces from other people. It’s entirely me. Because of that, I can say: here’s my work.

Q. What kind of professor interaction do you have as a Richter?
A. Working one-on-one with a professor, I could feel the amount of trust and faith Professor Arnell put in me, which was all the more motivating. It was refreshing to be listened to and have a professor to collaborate with, as well as discuss concepts and ideas.

Q. What was your favorite part of the Richter program?
A. My favorite part was being confronted with the fact that I couldn’t Google the answers to my questions. I was prompted to find my own answers and draw my own conclusions, because nobody else had conducted this research prior to my Richter project. No one was there to tell me whether I was right or wrong. That’s the beauty of my research: I had to trust my analytical instincts.

Q. What did you learn about yourself this summer during the program?
A. In a traditional school setting, there are questions you must answer in a certain way, and if you don’t, you fail. This, in my opinion, creates an environment where you are constantly correcting yourself. In my Richter research, I found that when I’m not asked to give a particular answer, I notice things that I would have glossed over while in search of something else. I was allowed to decide what I thought was relevant, and I pointed out what I thought mattered, which is something I’ve never been able to do before.

—Sangjun Hornewer ’20