Name: Birte Dedeyan Klug
Major: History, with a concentration on Asia and the Islamic World
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
UCSC College: Merrill
Favorite class or professor and why?
My favorite professor at UCSC has been Terry Burke. I took five classes with him, and he is also my advisor and guru helping me along as I write my senior thesis. He is also the director for the Center of World History at UCSC, a program that he created. Terry is my favorite professor because when I took my first class with him, during my sophomore year, I was terrified of him. He has an extremely professorial look--always in a collared shirt under a sweater or something similar, and he seemed very serious about teaching. But as the years went on and I took more and more classes with him, and began speaking with him before and after class, he became sort of a personal mentor. His brain is full of countless historical facts and ideas, and he has been an integral part in my survival senior year trying to work my way through my thesis. I know that years after I graduate I will still visit and talk to Terry, as he has become a solid rock in my intellectual life.
Most memorable experience at UCSC?
I think that as a whole my first quarter as a freshman at UCSC was my most memorable experience. The group identity of myself and all my hallmates sharing a new and exciting experience together brought us close and allowed us to make friends quickly, party together, study together, and support each other when classes got difficult and we missed home. I think we all grew up a lot that quarter, and we did it together.
Favorite spot on campus and why?
There's a bench on a hill between East Field House and the East Remote Parking Lot that overlooks the whole city of Santa Cruz below and the beach beyond--it's the most incredible view on campus. Sitting out there and enjoying the outdoors is wonderful.
How has UCSC shaped you?
I have grown up more in four years than I think I had in the previous 18 years of my life. Learning to live with roommates, taking care of myself, balancing schoolwork and a social life, and the final stretch of graduation have shaped my life. I met friends that I am excited to graduate together with and see how we all move forward with our lives, and a boyfriend who I am excited to live and grow with. There have been good times and bad times, but they were all worth it.
What are your future plans?
As for a job immediately after graduation, I have no idea. My dream has always been to become a writer, and I would like to eventually start a charity organization for literacy in third world countries. I am also looking forward to being more deeply involved in the Armenian National Committee of America and efforts toward the recognition of the Armenian genocide.
I am writing my thesis as a social biography of my mother's side of the family. They have endured extremely rough, tumultuous times throughout their lives, beginning in Syria where in 1961 my grandfather was imprisoned and tortured as a suspected Communist. When he was released, the family moved to Lebanon, where they started life anew and lived happily until the civil war, when they all had to emigrate to the United States for safety. The thesis is examining the ways in which the course of history often determines the path of one's life more than any efforts on the part of the individual can.
I am also the first person in my family to attend and graduate college, which is an extremely proud moment for my loved ones.