Michael Deckebach


I am a History and Religious Studies major with a certificate in Leadership. At Pitt, I worked as a resident assistant in the UHC’s First-Year Honors Community and served as the President of Talk About It, a mental health awareness campaign. Over the course of my studies, I studied abroad in India, traveled to Israel, China, and Peru, and conducted a Brackenridge research project on American civil religion. I also interned with the Thomas Merton Center, a local non-profit working on issues of peace and social justice.

When I chose Pitt four years ago, I liked Pitt’s urban campus, balance of academics and athletics, and its distance from my home in Toledo, Ohio. I knew nothing about the UHC, but I applied and was selected to live in the First-Year Honors Community. I was afraid “honors housing” meant living with nerds who studied all day, but I soon realized it’s quite the opposite. Honors housing is by far the most outgoing and welcoming community on campus.

I enjoyed Honors housing so much that I became a resident assistant for the First-Year Community my sophomore and junior years. Residence Life taught me lessons in leadership, teamwork, empathy, and patience. Living in UHC housing for three years, I built relationships with a network of like-minded and curious students.

Along the way, the UHC staff took me to Fallingwater, facilitated a lunch with ex-governor and attorney general Dick Thornburgh, and helped craft my application to spend a month living in a Buddhist monastery in China (thanks Judy!). They also provided local field trips to Pittsburgh landmarks, research forums, and countless lectures and discussion groups. In my experience, the UHC is all about providing the means to turn college dreams and goals into reality.