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Grad finds commonalities among art forms, cultures, people

Jake Adler posing in a garden
May 06, 2014

Editor’s Note: Jake Adler graduates this spring with an honors degree in creative writing, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean's Medal for the Department of English and a prestigious Fulbright Award. Fellow English major Sophie Opich met up with him on a beautiful afternoon to talk art, politics and his post-graduation plans.

In April, the Fulbright Program awarded Jake Adler for his research proposal on the influence of the revolutionary Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. He will be funded to travel and work in Calcutta, India, for nine months.

“Poetry can be used to reclaim national identity in times of political and social crises,” he explained. Adler, who currently works as an English teaching assistant, will teach English and Western culture to Indian students from fourth to seventh grade.

As he explains his plans, Adler smiles excitedly. He is enthusiastic and articulate – our conversation ranges through Indian history, Walt Whitman, jazz and skateboarding. He jokes, “I'm hoping that when we start to talk about Tagore’s folk songs in class I can ask, ‘Have you guys heard of Bob Dylan?’”

We laugh, but Adler maintains that his interests all root in similar values. He recently defended his thesis on the ASU Social Action Research Team at Barrett, the Honors College, which studies the development of individuals who identify as straight LGBT allies. Adler examined what motivated these subjects to pursue LGBT activism: “I'm looking for commonalities, on a macro scale. What makes someone in a privileged class want to help someone in a lower class?”

Adler will walk at ASU's graduation ceremony with an honors degree in creative writing, focus in poetry. “I'm happy my family will get to see it,” he said. Of his recent accomplishments, Adler is most happy to make his family proud, especially his dad, brother and late mother.

"I'm into finding the experiences that make us all the same – the experiences that all human beings have – whether it's in India, or it's here," Adler says. "There are things that never change, things that, throughout centuries, we can always relate to.”

Written by Sophie Opich