Samantha Levinson


As a student, I am rarely bored and there are few subjects I don’t find inherently interesting. I adore interdisciplinary discussion and thrive on the linkages that connect seemingly disparate entities. Perhaps because of this freewheeling passion for all things learnable, upon entering the University, I had no clue what I wanted to study and even less of a sense of what I wanted to do on that fateful day when I would have to “grow up.” Through the Honors College, I have pursued discussion groups on poetry, plays, and theories of education; I have conducted independent research in translation studies and feminist philosophy and I have learned what it means to be a research academic in the humanities and social sciences. I have gotten to lecture and co-teach a class and, maybe most importantly, play softball with some of my mentors.

As a senior, I now know what I love to study. There’s still a wide range of subjects I enjoy, as my majors in French and Economics, my minor in History, and my certificates in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and Western European Studies attest to as do my plans to graduate Phi Beta Kappa. Three-quarters of the way done with my college education, I also have a better sense of who I want to be. My research community the summer after freshman year led me to search for a way to incorporate practice into my study of theory; in turn, this motivated me to pursue a fellowship in community leadership the following summer. Learning about and volunteering in a community inspired me to view my world through a social justice lens. My focus on resolving inequalities, intermingled with my French major, led me to study development economics in Paris and to travel to Morocco and across Europe to Turkey.  As my traveling has led me back again to Pittsburgh, a place that now feels like home, I recognize that everything is a journey and a part of a larger puzzle. So while not all the pieces are yet in place in terms of just who I will be when I do grow up, a lot of the corner pieces have been found, and I’m excited to watch the rest of the image take shape.

What I do know is that I aspire to change the world, to further the cause of women’s rights and, by extension, human rights. While there is no argument that these are lofty ambitions, from the thirty-sixth floor of the Cathedral of Learning, no goal seems impossible.