Thriving in Small Classes With Diverse Perspectives

June 22, 2023

Natasa Powell was familiar with CEU years before she started the Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) program, in fact, she participated in the demonstration in Budapest championing academic freedom in 2018 during the Lex CEU efforts, as the university was forced by the government to relocate from Hungary. Powell grew up in and around Budapest, and when she sought a PPE program, she preferred to pursue CEU with its ties to Central Europe as opposed to PPE programs in the U.K.   

“From the beginning I really enjoyed the topics I was studying based on my interests, and I also appreciated the surroundings. I liked having smaller classes, which allowed us to have a connection with our professors,” said Powell. She remembers comparing notes with her friends at other universities with large lectures of a couple hundred people where the professor delivers the lecture and that’s it. Powell added, “My CEU experience was more of a conversation. It allowed me to express my opinions and hear those of my classmates, especially in subjects like politics and economics. In this way we get to experience firsthand the perspectives of those from other countries.” 

Currently, through CEU’s Democracy Institute, Powell is participating as a research assistant for AUTHLIB, a multidisciplinary project exploring the varieties of neo-authoritarian, illiberal ideologies in Europe. Powell also studied abroad for three months at Netherlands Utrecht University this year, and when she returned, she felt particularly motivated to make the most of her class connections, friendships and events and lectures on campus. Having started the bachelor’s program under pandemic conditions, Powell has put her energy into showing up to as much as possible.  

While her heart is with Budapest as a city with which she has a long history, Powell has embraced Vienna and highlights:Spring and summer in Vienna are my favorite times of year because you can go to the Danube and have get togethers there and go swimming, and that's a really cool thing.” 

During the 2023 graduation ceremony, Powell (along with PPE graduate Beatrice Bottura) will receive the Outstanding Service to the Community Awardwhich recognizes the dedication of two bachelor’s students. The honor acknowledges Powell’s service as a student representative and steward for undergraduate studies for which she volunteered for Open Days, recruitment webinars and CEU campaigns. Powell will be continuing her studies at CEU as a master’s student in Economic Policy.