For Alaina Schallwig, Comparative Literature and Art and Design BA ‘21, it was fate that brought her to the Comparative Literature department. Hear from Alaina below how a chance encounter with Comparative Literature graduate student Shira Schwartz in New York City led her to declaring her major:

“My dad, brother, and I basically came straight from the airport to a small cafe in Manhattan. We walked in and as we sat down there was a woman next to us with a Michigan Comp Lit sticker on her laptop. My dad being the Michigan fanatic he is immediately pounced and said “Go Blue!”. We began to talk and she introduced herself to us as Shira. Shira asked what I was studying and I mentioned I was unsure, but English, Philosophy, and Art had always been interesting to me. Shira told me this is exactly what Comp Lit encompasses and gave me her card to connect me with the Comp Lit department.

“With the craziness that was the summer, I hadn’t had the chance to reach out and connect. Then this semester, I decided to take a Comp Lit class to fulfill my first year writing requirement. I went to my GSI’s (Duygu Ergun) office hours and as soon as I walked in I saw Shira sitting at the desk by Duygu. We were absolutely elated to see each other after all this time, and through their discussions and encouragement one thing led to another and I declared my major in Comp Lit— no decision had felt as clear as this in so long.

“A few weeks later, I was in a cafe in Ann Arbor late one Friday night. The minute I walked in the door, I saw Shira and her Michigan Comp Lit sticker on her laptop. Elated to see each other yet again, I pulled out my laptop— now with a Comp Lit sticker on it as well. In a way, this story begins and ends in a cafe with Shira, facilitated entirely by fate and her kindness.

“I honestly believe that this is the most momentous experience I have had since beginning college. I feel a profound sense of belonging and direction I had never felt before at Michigan or within life in general, all of which was a direct result of my run-in with Shira and the universe seemingly begging for us to cross paths. If my flight to New York had been delayed by an hour, if traffic had been even 10 minutes heavier, if we had chosen a different cafe, if we had sat elsewhere within the cafe, if my dad had not so proudly said “Go Blue”, and if Shira and the Comp Lit department were not as amazing and welcoming as they are, I cannot say for sure I would have found myself within this school and within my life.”

We are delighted that these chance encounters were able to bring Alaina to Comp Lit!