Dzifa Binka, class of 2016
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
What is your major?
I am a geography major.
Before I arrived at Vassar, first I thought I wanted to major in economics, and then I changed my mind and decided to do chemistry. So I took classes in both, but then I also took a geography class called “Global Geography” with Professor Godfrey. And I was so interested in everything we learned that I decided I would double major in econ and geography, but eventually I settled on geography.
What did you find so interesting about geography?
I like that it’s not what people think it is. Most people think that geographers just study things like mountains and landforms or maps and topography, but it’s so much more than that, at least the way it’s taught here at Vassar. It’s also about people and how they interact with each other and with the world and about politics and culture. It’s also very much about alternatives to the systems that are in place. Geographers are trying to explore a better way—a more equitable way—of constructing the human experience.
What’s the best class you’ve taken?
A class that really made me think and question assumptions about how the world works was called “The Political Geography of Human Rights,” taught by Joe Nevins, who is also my advisor. We looked at the origins and making of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the conclusion we came to was that the basic premise behind the declaration was flawed. Instead of trying to impose our idea of what human rights should be on everyone, we need to look at specific contexts and consult with people and ask what their situation is and what they need. It was an interesting class.
What other courses have you taken?
I’ve taken so many great classes. I took chemistry and really liked it, but I realized that being in a lab for four hours at a time just wasn’t for me. I took econ, which was really, really hard, and math, and a course on Greek archaeology. I also took a dance class and a squash class. I spent one summer in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute doing an anthropology project in the Catskills with Professor Beisaw. I’d say the most important thing I learned at Vassar was to try anything and everything that piques your interest.
What are you planning to do after graduation?
I want to do social justice work. I am applying for jobs and also for graduate school. If I do take a job, I still plan eventually to go to graduate school and pursue at least a master’s in geography because there is so much more to learn.