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Department ofHistory

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Michael O'Sullivan '10

Michael O’Sullivan '10 (History), is a Ph.D. candidate in History at UCLA. Read in his own words how his time as a history major at SCU shaped his exciting career path.

The History Department is proud to feature Michael O’Sullivan '10 (History), Ph.D. candidate in History at UCLA. Read in his own words how his time as a history major at SCU shaped his exciting career path:

Michael O'Sullivan

A history degree from Santa Clara offers so many incalculable benefits, regardless of the student’s ultimate career choice. This can only be attributed to the fact that Santa Clara’s history department boasts a faculty unique in its dedication to student success and intellectual rigor. Thanks to their mentorship, I acquired a range of skills that opened up several potential paths. But I was so inspired by their example that I decided to become a professional historian after graduating in 2010.

Whether during my master’s program at Cambridge or later as a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA, I have been fortunate to utilize my Santa Clara training every day. All the same, my training has given me something far more rewarding: a profound appreciation for the diverse ways of being human, and an overt dedication to pushing up against intellectual borders. That has served me particularly well during the course of my Ph.D. dissertation, which seeks to integrate the economic and legal histories of diverse Muslim communities in South Asia and the Middle East through the study of sources in Urdu, Persian, Arabic, and Ottoman Turkish. Many of these connections have been obscured by the legacies of nationalism, colonialism, and linguistic division, but if my Santa Clara education taught me one thing, it is that the historian is obligated to transcend arbitrary boundaries, and bear witness to connections obscured by later ideologues and narratives of cultural essentialism. My time as a Santa Clara student made me alive to my vocation, and I guarantee that anyone considering a history major will be just as lucky as I was, not only during those four years, but long after.

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