English Major Stephanie Tam wins Sachs Prize

Our own Stephanie Tam (Class of 2013) has been named one of the two recipients of the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, one of the highest awards given to Princeton undergraduates.

The Sachs Scholarship is intended to enlarge each recipient's experience of the world by providing the opportunity to study, work or travel abroad after graduation. The Sachs Scholarship at Worcester College, University of Oxford, allows the Sachs Scholar to read for any appropriate degree from the University of Oxford.

When asked how shewould defend the English department to someone who feels it has no relevance to the public sector or civic service, Stephanie replies:

"Literature is always political; it never exists in isolation, because it's always part of a larger conversation of politics and culture. It gets under our skin, wonderfully and dangerously, inspiring new ways of thinking and feeling. Governments for ages have recognized that literature has this power to destabilize traditional hierarchies and provoke action in their demands that certain books be burned, banned, or censored.  As an aspiring English scholar, I’m interested in narratives that press just beyond the boundaries of country and convention, challenging their culture—and in doing so, transforming and renewing it.  .  .

Salman Rushdie reconstructs Indian international identity in the aftermath of Empire. Henry David Thoreau and Maxine Hong Kingston grapple with the problems that slavery and sexism pose to the relationship between self, culture, and nation.  I think that one of the greatest social challenges our century is going to face as globalization throws us into contact with those who are different from ourselves is building bridges across cultural, gender, and socioeconomic divides. Those bridges begin with opening ourselves up to dialogue. As we step into the narratives of others, we cultivate a kind of empathy that leads to not only caring "about"others, but also placing ourselves in a community of others."

As Stephanie pursues a postgraduate degree at Worcester, she will become part of a large community of scholars concerned with postcolonial and world literatures. In addition, she will have access to British accounts of colonialism and missionary work at the National Archives, as well as the Oriental Manuscripts and Rare Books special collection at Oxford. 

Professor Anne A. Cheng, who has known Tam since she was a sophomore and who is currently her thesis advisor, says of Stephanie:  "Stephanie is an amazing young scholar.  Her thinking is nuanced and her writing powerful.  She works incredibly hard even with all her innate gifts.  Her junior paper on the relationship between fantasy and postcolonial politics received the first A+ I have given at Princeton.  Working with Stephanie has renewed my own commitment to undergraduate teaching."

Tam has also been awarded the George B. Wood Legacy Junior Prize, the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, the Class of 1870 Junior English Prize, the Emily Ebert Junior Prize and the Class of 1870 Sophomore English Prize. This summer, Tam participated in the Princeton/Bread Loaf Fellowship, a research training and advising initiative at the Bread Loaf School of English at Oxford.  She is the editor in chief of the Nassau Literary Review, an adviser for Princeton Against Sex Trafficking, a fellow of the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, a student representative of the English department's student advisory council, a peer adviser in Mathey College, a board member of the Writers Studio, and an outreach team member and mentor in Princeton Faith and Action.