Right now, I’m working out on figuring out where I want to go post-undergrad: skip grad school? M.A.? M.F.A.? M.L.S? It’s a decision I need to make sooner rather than later (hopefully, sometime in the next year), but there are so many potential paths that I’m trying to talk to people in a number of different fields, from archival librarians to literary agents to religious studies scholars, to figure out what’s right for me. The departments in my majors, English Writing and Religious Studies, are two places where I can find help making those connections, as is the Honors College and the Brackenridge program itself. One Brackenridge alumna I found in the Brackenridge Fellows group on Pitt Commons is Lauren Buches, an English Writing major like me who works at a director at an art gallery in Latrobe. Archival work, which I’m interested in, is linked to curatorial work — I’d love to know about the path that gets you from studying writing and history to working in art.
I know that many of the fields I’m interested in require making connections that are easiest to get at elite universities — it’s way harder to break into publishing, for instance, if you’re not coming from an Ivy. That said, I’ve had luck finding connections and mentors at Pitt as I seek out the things I want to know more about. My research mentor is Harry Kloman, who was my first writing instructor at Pitt — I took “Intro to Journalism and Nonfiction” with him my first semester, before I changed my major concentration from nonfiction to fiction and other classes since then. He’s also the news adviser at Pitt’s student newspaper, and the one who clued me into my research topic in the first place. When I wrote a piece, drawing on the archives, about Pitt’s first co-educational cheerleading squad, Harry told me about the first female sports editor at The Pitt News — Elaine Kahn Light, who got her dream job at the student newspaper when the men went off to war, and later worked for the Associated Press and other news outlets. While he doesn’t publish scholarly work in the exact field of my project — archival research is a personal interest of mine — Harry has helped me understand so much about the way journalism works currently, allowing me to understand how my research on the history of journalism links to the field as it exists today. So I guess if I had to give advice to another student looking for a research mentor, I’d just say find someone who can meet you where you’re at!