I was born in San Jose, California but grew up in Apple Valley, MN, just south of the twin cities. I first became interested in Russia at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, after I participated in a service trip to an orphanage in Staraya Russa, Russia with professor Marc Robinson. Since that time, I have returned to Russia twice, spending three weeks in Staraya Russa and four months studying in St. Petersburg. St. Olaf provided me with great opportunities to study abroad, not only in Russia but in Italy and Cuba as well. In 2003 I graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and Russian, and plan to eventually pursue a PhD in Russian history. My other interests and hobbies include camping, hiking, scuba diving, reading, and playing the blues harmonica. At St. Olaf, I was also a member of the Russian choir and Veselica international dance ensemble and would like to further develop these interests in the future. I will be spending the 2003-2004 academic year at Novgorod State University in Velikii Novgorod, about three hours south of St. Petersburg, studying the relationship between the Soviet state and the Russian Orthodox Church.