We’re already more than half-way through the fellowship, and I’ll readily admit that the past month and a half has flown by! So far, I’ve looked at quite a few data tables, taken lots of notes, and thought of so many more questions that I hadn’t considered before starting the project – I’m quite excited to be conducting this research and to be growing more familiar with the subject matter, even with the constant-wonderings that come along with the process.
As I browsed through PittCommons and searched for Brackenridge alumni with research or professional experience that aligned with my own goals and interests, I came across the profile of one Brackenridge alumna, Megan Ault, who worked in the public sector, in public policy and social development, and then attended law school and secured a job as a judicial law clerk. I greatly appreciated learning about the path she took after graduating from Pitt and seeing the professional opportunities available for someone (like me!) interested working in the fields of law, public policy, and social advocacy. Aside from the alignment of her professional experience with my own aspirations, it was interesting so see some other Pitt experiences we had in common, such as working for the Office of Admissions and giving tours to prospective panthers, and of course the Brackenridge Fellowship.
Before becoming my research mentor for this project, Professor Balderston was my major advisor in the Spanish department, so I met with him each semester to discuss the classes I was taking and the opportunities I was interested in pursuing. He had spoken to me before about research and thesis opportunities, as well as his own research in literature, translation, and borders studies, so when I approached him with this project in mind, he was greatly interested and was able to offer resources as a starting point for my work. In searching for a research mentor, I would recommend speaking to people who are familiar with the field you’ll be working in and have the experience needed to offer feedback and insight for your work.
As I’m hoping to work in the field of public policy and eventually attend law school, I’m interested in making connections with individuals who have followed that trajectory, in order to learn about the specific nature of their jobs and the steps they took to achieve those goals. Already the honors college has allowed me make steps in that direction.