Ancient fields, modern thought

Meghan Reilly '20

HOMETOWN: Boonton, N.J.
MAJOR: Classics, Chinese
MINOR: Economics

Meghan Reilly

In a first-year research seminar on “Homer, War and Religion in Ancient Greece,” Meghan Reilly read the “Iliad” in English. That same term, in an introductory Greek class, she deciphered the beginning of the epic poem in its original Greek language.

“It was a beautiful dynamic,” she says of the interplay between the two courses.

“I did my final paper on kleos (κλέος), or the concept of undying glory. Delving into the different meanings of the word was fascinating. After class, I’d sit in Professor (Hans-Friedrich) Mueller’s office and talk about life and ancient Greece.”

Soon after declaring a major in classics, Meghan took a course in “Modern Chinese Literature in Translation,” which added a new dimension to her studies. Many of her classmates were international students from China, and she enjoyed discussions about the complexities of translation and history.

“In addition, my first-year roommate was Chinese, and I’d listen to her speak to her mom in Chinese at night. I’ve taken several other Chinese courses, and I will be studying in Shanghai on a term abroad my junior year. It all connects for me.”

With her natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge, Meghan began thinking more about Asia’s most populous nation, and she decided to add one more field – economics – to the mix.

She reached out to Professor of Economics Eshragh Motahar for guidance.

“I’d never met him but heard good things about him. I said, ‘You don’t know me, but I’d love to talk to you about ideas for a project combining China with economics.’

Although Meghan didn’t know it at the time, Motahar has been a consultant to the World Bank on issues of foreign investment and aid in transition economies, especially in Central Asia.

“He said, ‘I have exactly the same interest,’ and told me about One Belt, One Road, which has been presented as a modern reincarnation of the Silk Road by the Chinese government. I’m now investigating China’s investment in infrastructure in foreign countries.”

Meghan cited a generous financial aid package and friendly campus community as two reasons she chose Union.

“When I visited, the students were very willing to answer questions. They had an honest conversation with me. I sat in on classes, and everyone was so welcoming. Once I got here, I saw how much the professors genuinely want to interact with you and hear your story.”

In addition to her studies, Meghan keeps busy as vice president of the Classics Club, student representative for Breazzano House and a sports writer for the student newspaper, Concordiensis. She also tutors at the Writing Center and volunteers at the Kenney Community Center.

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