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Second Year Honors Student Tavi Gupta Finds Her Passion in Judaic Studies

For many years, Tavi Gupta thought college wasn’t for her. She had dropped out of high school in her hometown Indiana and worked several jobs in her twenties. However, after more than ten years away from school, Tavi, who decided she wanted a better life for her two young children, moved to Portland, obtained her GED, and was accepted at Portland State in the Honors program.

While excited for her new opportunities, Tavi, now a single parent of three, still found the transition to academic life challenging:

“That first day on campus…it was horrifying. I was lost and my classes were far apart.” Feeling lost, overwhelmed, and wondering if she’d made the right decision, Tavi trudged through her first semester. “I didn’t think I would stick it out and was looking for jobs when Winter Term started.”

However, one class changed her mind: Holocaust Studies. “Professor Meir changed my world,” Tavi recounts. “I discovered how much I love to learn.” Like the majority of PSU’s Judaic Studies students, Tavi is not Jewish and did not come from a Jewish upbringing—however, her love of history drew her to Judaic Studies.

Today, Tavi is a second year honors student in Judaic Studies who dreams of becoming a Professor of Holocaust Studies. Her academic determination helped her earn the 2013 Sara Cogan Scholarship, which gives her the opportunity to intern at Oregon Holocaust Resource Center. At the OHRC, she’s made valuable connections and even recently wrote the Proclamation for Yom Hashoah, which the Governor will read this April.

While she still has a couple more years at Portland State, Tavi is already thinking ahead to graduate school. “It’s a bit daunting to think I’m going to be in school until 2020. . .but I know I love learning, that doors have been unlocked, and that I am forever indebted and immensely grateful for the Judaic Studies Department.”