Justin Magoon

Email: jmagoon@wisc.edu

Please introduce yourself to prospective students!

I’m a Russian major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program on campus. I’m from a small town about an hour from Madison. I started learning Russian out of simple curiosity and it has never stopped intriguing me, so here I am 3 years later! In my spare time, I enjoy working out, playing computer games with my friends, and playing the piano.

How have your Russian language skills changed since joining the Russian Flagship Program?

The program helped transform Russian from a simple academic subject to an actual second language. My summer study abroad initiated that transition, and since then, Russian feels much more like a way of thinking than some classroom exercise, not only in reading and writing, but as a conversation tool.

What are some of your favorite aspects of the Russian Flagship Program?

Being able to travel to the other side of the planet, to Kazakhstan, a country I had hardly ever given a thought to and learn about the post-Soviet world and Central Asia in an entirely different language and understand it all, with generous scholarship support, is a pretty sweet deal. I also enjoy tutoring, as it’s become easier to converse and the tutors will do anything from shoot the breeze to talk about deeper or more personal issues.

Why is a professional level of proficiency in Russian important to you?

As a future Air Force officer, I hope to work abroad and use my knowledge of Russian in capacities and positions available to few. Professional proficiency in Russian is essential to being competitive for these respected positions, and simply completing a degree in Russian is not sufficient. The Russian Flagship tends to attract high-caliber students, as does Air Force ROTC, and I know that the two have challenged me to improve every aspect of myself.

What advice do you have for students who are considering the Russian Flagship Program?

You aren’t signing your life away! You’re simply starting a program that will challenge you but will also transform you into someone you don’t fully recognize by the time you’re finished. You’re bound to meet at least two people with similar interests, goals, or hobbies, and, of course, people in your classes, so it’s good on the social side of things too. A language like Russian, for sure, is not easy to learn, but it’s used by millions across the world daily with ease, and the Russian Flagship will help you get to that level too.