It was only a little over a week before the deadline when I finally decided to apply for the Brackenridge Fellowship. I remember frantically contacting Dr. Say and asking where I needed to start; thankfully, my mentor was incredibly trusting and supportive, despite my last minute decision. Needless to say, my expectations for Brackenridge were very loosely formed, and my perspectives have adapted as my research has progressed.
One the one hand, I had done research before for certain school assignments, but these were largely reliant on secondary research. On the other, I had done archaeological work and research before, which was more team-based and focused on excavation first and independent study second. Thus, the research I conducted for the Brackenridge Fellowship was new for me. I had to learn how to be my own research director, deciding on the project’s direction myself and allocating time as I saw necessary. At the same time, I had to regulate my days between data gathering and analysis. Sometimes it was too appealing to just sit and collect more and more data, when analyzing what I already had was falling to the side. These were all administrative skills I learned along the way of my research.
For me, the Brackenridge experience was highly valuable for a number of reasons. Firstly, and perhaps the most obviously, it allowed me to pursue my academic passions in a way that I never had the time or resources to do before. This helped me better envision what I may want my future and career to look like. Secondly, the Brackenridge community provided access to so many resources, individuals, and opportunities that I was previously unaware of. I have said a number of times to friends and family throughout the summer that I only wish I had applied sooner in my college career. Lastly, after this summer of dedicated research, for the first time I feel like a semi-professional in my fields. Perhaps that is wishful thinking, but I finally feel as though I have a special bit of knowledge that most do not. It is an enriching feeling to be able to contribute to scholarly discussions with professionals whom I have always respected and looked up to.
Although my time as a Brackenridge Fellow is coming to an end, I do not intend for my research to do the same. After conducting this project, a few key points have become apparent to me, and I hope to investigate them further in the future. These would, ideally, solidify the significance of my work. As I have thought about how this might take shape, I am hoping to apply for the University of Pittsburgh Honors College Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) program. Nevertheless, whatever the future holds for me, I will remain engaged in the study of Old and Middle English literature thanks to the opportunities provided to me by Brackenridge.