Master’s student to travel to Kazakhstan for selective study abroad opportunity

College of Arts & Sciences Student Spotlight Series

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to partner with some truly remarkable students. They are hardworking and determined, and realize successes in the classroom and beyond.

The CAS Student Spotlight Series celebrates and showcases some of these great students.

Martha Brown

Martha Brown

WWII Monument. Almaty, KZ

Martha Calhoun Brown, a Master’s student in History, will travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan this summer for a selective study abroad opportunity. The program, meant for current or aspiring instructors of the Russian language and those passionate about the post-Soviet space in Central Asia, will take place for four weeks in July. The American Councils organization administers this Summer Professional Development and Fellowship Opportunity, in partnership with Al Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU), where the 15 selected American students and teachers will conduct their studies.

This fellowship provides full coverage for all participants’ expenses, including airfare, KazNU tuition and transfer graduate credit hours, homestay costs, and group cultural activities. American Councils requires a pre-departure orientation that will take place in Washington, D.C. after which the participants will fly together to Kazakhstan. In Almaty, Brown and her cohort will attend classes on Russian instruction and pedagogy, engage in one-on-one tutorials with faculty members at KazNU, and participate in seminars regarding the post-Soviet world and cultures. Participants will stay with local host families, and the program offers several cultural excursions and activities to further language immersion and cultural learning. Brown’s thesis advisor and Associate Professor of History, Dr. Cadra Peterson McDaniel, noted “This is an excellent opportunity for Martha to continue her studies of Central Asia by becoming immersed in the culture of the region. Through daily interactions with her host family and through more formalized instruction, Martha will refine her language skills and gain insight into the Kazakh people and their heritage.”

Martha Brown

Ala Too Square, Manas statue. Bishkek, KG

This will be Brown’s second time in Central Asia, having spent three months in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in the Spring 2022 semester on a study abroad while completing her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University in College Station. Brown graduated Texas A&M in 2023 with a double-bachelor in History and Modern Languages (Russian) and a minor in English. During her fourth year, Brown was a teaching assistant and guest lecturer for the university’s Russian department; she hopes to use this fellowship to better her pedagogical repertoire for teaching Russian language and the cultures of the wider Russophone world.

Continuing her passion for Russian and Central Asian histories, Brown is completing her thesis on the interactions of Russian, Soviet, and Central Asian cultures and ideologies during the twentieth century. Her research focuses on Socialist Realist art as representations of change and continuity in Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan’s southern neighbor. Brown hopes that “Spending time in Almaty will allow me an immersive experience in the Central Asian culture that I am researching for my thesis. Along with gaining skills in Russian instruction, this program will provide me with an opportunity to take a close look at how Kazakh and Russian cultures conflate and diverge.” This opportunity will provide five hours of graduate credit, which will count towards Brown’s requirements for the MA History program.

Brown intends to graduate in 2025 and is currently applying to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Kyrgyzstan for the 2025-2026 school year. Outside of her graduate studies, Brown is the TAMUCT History department’s graduate research assistant and plays trumpet for the Temple College/TAMUCT symphonic band. She is also a substitute teacher for Belton ISD. Besides her pedagogical and research goals in Almaty, Brown hopes to visit the city’s many museums and historical sites, and to learn to cook as many traditional Kazakh dishes as she can.

For information about the MA History Program at Texas A&M-Central Texas, please contact the MA Program Coordinator, Dr. Cadra Peterson McDaniel, Associate Professor of History,

Martha Brown

Church of the Spilled Blood. SPB, Russia

Virtual Advisor