Final Brackenridge Post

  1. My understanding of my research changed immensely over the summer—most obviously in the fact that the topic of my research really shifted. I began the summer with the intent to focus on the impact of female Irish paramilitary members, but now I am going to be continuing my research and BPhil process focusing on the ways in which formerly imprisoned paramilitary members use their shared histories to prevent another outbreak of violence. I want to observe how family members of victims view this foray into the future and how they reconcile the prominence of paramilitary members in this process even though they were the ones who committed the acts of violence that defined the Troubles.  
  1. My absolute favorite part of the Brackenridge experience was getting to meet other students and learn about their projects. I got along incredibly well with my cohort, and because of that I looked forward to our group discussions each week. I was fascinating to see how their own projects progressed and changed over the last few months, especially the STEM projects that are so far out of my sphere of comfort that sometimes they’d have to be explained multiple times. Hearing about my cohort members’ thought and research processes helped me to figure out what works best for my individual goals, but beyond that, it was invaluable to have people to assure me that it was alright for my research to change and for me to struggle a bit. Independent research is, by nature, very isolating. Having group members who were both going through the same types of problems but also had already been in my situation was both reassuring and motivating. 
  1. The end of the Brackenridge program marks the beginning of my second year here at Pitt. Going forward, my plan for this year is to continue with my independent research while planning out my junior year study abroad semester to Belfast, in Northern Ireland. I began talking to advisors this summer who will be helping me plan this trip, and over the course of the next year I am going to start connecting with Northern Irish people and groups who would be willing to participate in the interviews and observations that I am going to Belfast to complete. These interviews will be where I truly get that firsthand insight into the Troubles, and as such they are the crux of my ultimate BPhil presentation. After I finish up my undergraduate time, I would like to either go to grad school or start a career in journalism and media—which my interviewing skills from Belfast will undoubtedly help with! I’m not 100% sure what path I’ll end up taking after graduation, but I know that either way my Brackenridge experience has given me experiences and information that I’ll be using for the rest of my life.  

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