My Brackenridge – A Reflection on the Summer’s Lessons

The most significant thing I learned through the Brackenridge fellowship is just how broad scholarly work it is, and how independent a researcher can be in their work. The broadness is pretty self explanatory, and aligns with the goals of the Brackenridge; to highlight the importance and diversity of interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinary work is meant to encompass everything under the sun, it’s meant to be diverse, and it’s meant to be unique in a lot of ways. Getting to know the other researchers, especially those in my cohort, really opened my eyes to this truth about research. Hearing the stories of how they became interested in their topics and involved in the academic studies of these topics was so interesting, and really helped me to understand what research is and why it exists in the first place. I think I got a better understanding of the fact that scholarly work stems from one basic, yet essential idea: curiosity. 

Being able to hear about other students’ projects both through cohort conversations and the panel discussions was the most valuable aspect of this experience: I gained a lot of perspective on process, reasoning, their learning experiences, and a wealth of information on disciplines I am an outsider to. But the most valuable part for me was hearing the way people spoke about their topics. The passion and knowledge from these people becomes so clear when they speak about their work and the ways that they understand it to be beneficial to the people and world around them. The privilege of being able to listen to someone ramble about their passion is something I will be forever grateful for. 

I hope to use my experience doing research to think critically about the world when it comes to my topic. Working in oral history and researching a community of people such as those on the spectrum has made me realize there are a lot of moments in life where I should be listening more. There are stories I am not hearing, there are moments I am not listening, there are times when I am talking when I should be listening, and there will always be knowledge I have not gained. In my future I hope to be one thing: a better listener.

In more specific terms, I hope to graduate this coming year and pursue a career in journalism. I hope that my project is something I will work on for years to come, to hopefully be able to publish it and make it accessible to the world. I hope to continue to be an advocate for autistic voices, a set of ears willing to listen to autistic voices, to be a force of compassion and understanding in everyday life for my disabled siblings and for anyone who struggles to communicate what is necessary for them to thrive. 

Leave a Reply