Karen Borek

Master of Philosophy student, University of Pennsylvania


Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts, University of Pennsylvania ‘19
Master of Liberal Arts, University of Pennsylvania ‘14
BA in Literature, Stockton ‘92 
BS, St. Joseph College ‘71

When Karen Borek (Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts ’19) completed her Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) degree at the University of Pennsylvania, she realized there was much more she wanted to explore. A student of African studies, Karen wrote her master’s thesis on The Cry of Winnie Mandela by scholar and novelist Njabulo Ndebele. Her deep dive into South African literature opened up to a larger sphere of South African culture that continues to inspire and challenge her. “I am exploring different cultural beliefs and customs, especially those of the Xhosa and Zulu peoples of South Africa,” says Karen. “I want to learn about the region’s history, music, art, dance, cinema, and post-apartheid literature.”

Karen decided to return to Penn for a Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil), an advanced interdisciplinary graduate degree designed for individuals with a passion for academic pursuits. “Continuing education expands my interdisciplinary studies and previous work in Penn's MLA program,” Karen explains. “These programs have allowed me the opportunity to complement my literature background with other courses that have sparked my interest.”

While the depth and range of MPhil studies can provide a bridge between a master’s degree and doctoral program, there are many other academic and professional benefits of an advanced degree. “The MPhil provides the possibility of sharing knowledge as a presenter at conferences, teaching at college or a junior college, and improving my writing skills,” says Karen, who published an article on the music of Hugh Masekela in Confluence in 2017. “On a personal level, pursuing an MPhil illustrates my love of learning.”

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