Department of History

Halak Mehta

Date of Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History and Philosophy of Science (political science minor and Conceptual Foundations of Medicine certificate), 2016
Current Position: First-year law student 

Studying History at Pitt allowed me the privilege of contributing to our collective memory of the past by interpreting the human experience first hand, first through a Brackenridge Research Fellowship and later, through my senior honors thesis—neither of which could have been possible without Pitt’s promotion of undergraduate research and the History Department’s encouragement of mentorship. 

The idea for my honors thesis grew out of an Introductory Seminar for History Majors I took with Professor Katja Wezel. I got so interested in the Soviet history of Kazakhstan that I applied for and received the Brackenridge fellowship, learning even more about Central Asian history and politics.  From this, I went on to research and write my senior thesis, "Kazakhstan's Usable Past. Nazarbayev's Official Nationalism and the Attempt to Create a Post-Soviet National Political Culture." I was honored to be the recipient of the second annual William Stanton Senior Honors Thesis prize for this work.

My independent research projects and broader study of History at Pitt inspired me to accept an Organizing Fellowship for the Hillary Clinton for America presidential campaign toward the end of my senior year. My role as Organizing Fellow focused on voter outreach, constructing and managing a coalition of volunteers, and using other grassroots efforts to engage Pennsylvania residents to vote and volunteer on behalf of the campaign. The critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills I gained from pursuing my History degree were instrumental in my campaign work.

This fall, I am starting law school and I am confident that the analytical research and writing skilled that I gained from pursuing a History degree will allow me to be successful as I continue my graduate studies. Throughout my undergraduate career at Pitt, my study of History gave me a nuanced access to the human experience—one that enhanced my overall awareness and inspired me to make more rich and informed decisions.