• UR Department of History

Niharika Thakur '22 reflects on her time in the history honors program

The 2022 history honors cohort. From left to right: Lilly Hutton, Niharika Thakur, Talia Braverman, Hannah Yeager, and Philip Cavallo.

Thursday has become my favorite day of the week. Is it because I've achieved the senior spring dream of no Friday classes? Possibly. But it’s actually because Thursday is the day where for two hours, I meet with my history honors cohort.

For two hours we share our successes and struggles (which often go hand-in-hand) of our thesis writing process. Some days, we’re having a workshop on topics like structure, and bounce ideas off each other while bemoaning how much more writing needs to get done. On other days, we’re celebrating milestones like the completion of our first drafts, with danishes brought by Professor Fleischman!

While it might seem unlikely that five people with completely different thematic, geographic, and chronologic interests could help each other out, the sense of solidarity and support the history honors program provides is extremely valuable.

History is sometimes thought of as a solitary subject. You, the researcher, are often sitting there with your sources in some archive or library, and when you’re done with that phase, you’re typing away furiously at your laptop, hoping to meet the assignment deadline. However, the honors program has shown me how much teamwork is involved while doing research in history.

Right from the very first day of our junior-year honors seminar, I’ve been with a group of my peers, going through the process of figuring out our research interests, creating project proposals and writing grant applications. I then had the support of plenty of professors, starting with my advisor who was always willing to lend an ear and guide me in the right direction.

Niharika Thakur '22 celebrates at Meliora Weekend.

Professors from other departments were also instrumental, such as a political science professor who wrote me the letter I needed to access the National Archives of India, and an anthropology professor who advised me on oral history consent forms. Over the summer, I was able to reach out to my family and friends, who helped me locate ex-student protesters that protested against the Emergency in India in 1975.

Interviewing them allowed me to shed light on stories that had only been told in hushed whispers before. And then those ex-protesters helped put me in touch with their comrades, thus enabling my research to grow. During senior year, our honors cohort would get together and take over 500M (stacks in the library) on the weekends, giving each other company while writing.

I will always be grateful for the honors program for allowing me to pursue my intellectual interests, broaden my horizons, and provide an amazing community in history.

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