Alumnus Lands Prestigious Minority Fellowship | Trinity University

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Alumnus Lands Prestigious Minority Fellowship

Monday, March 2, 2020
Robbie Shilliam and Pyar Seth speak at an admissions event

At the Explore Hopkins Predoctoral Preview, Seth speaks with Robbie Shilliam, Ph.D., a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Pyar Seth ’19 recognized by American Political Science Association in pursuit of doctoral degree

by Miriam Sitz Grebey '10

Pyar Seth’s short undergraduate career has set him up for a long, productive future in academia. The 2019 graduate—a transfer student and Norfolk, Va., native—finished his bachelor’s degree in just three years, but still found time to forge meaningful relationships with faculty members, undertake groundbreaking research, and win a prestigious fellowship—one that will support his work as a Ph.D. student investigating the intersection of race and political thought. 

Encouraged by his first adviser at Trinity, Seth pursued an interdisciplinary second major (ISM) in African American studies, alongside his primary major of political science. His ISM incorporated classes from disciplines across campus—anthropology, education, communication, English, and history, where the chair, Carey Latimore, Ph.D., became a close mentor during Seth’s time at Trinity. 

"Dr. Latimore and I both share a love for big ideas and the history of our black people," Seth says. "Early on in my Trinity career, Dr. Latimore quickly committed to making me the better young scholar, but also played an instrumental role in the development of Pyar the person."

“What I really appreciate about Doc [Latimore] is that we had the kind of relationship where we could just sit and talk,” Seth says. Those chats would often become the starting place for new academic research. For instance, they studied the relationship between grief and black nationalism, and as Seth recalls, “That project emerged from a conversation we were having about what it’s like to be black in the U.S. today. We were just talking, and all of a sudden, Doc said, ‘I think we’re getting somewhere!’”

Seth actively participated in the broader Trinity community as a member of the Tiger track and field team, Black Student Union, and Residential Life, but his academic experiences—engaging in independent study, collaborating with professors, and developing his second major—set him down the scholarly path he’s still walking today.

The summer after his final year at Trinity, Seth was selected to participate in the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) 2019 Ralph Bunche Summer Institute Scholar program. Then, he landed a place in APSA’s prestigious Minority Fellows Program (MFP). Established in 1969, the $4,000 fellowship aims to increase the number of scholars from underrepresented and minority backgrounds in political science doctoral programs. 

Seth has now applied to several doctoral programs and will make a decision this spring. “I want to be somewhere that folks are excited by the questions I’m interested in asking,” he says, emphasizing his intention to focus on black political thought, emotions, and racial violence. 

Seth sees the APSA grant as both an honor and a mandate. “Since work on race and ethnic politics is largely underrepresented in political science, I see the Minority Fellowship as a push from the American Political Science Association to do and be better in that arena,” says Seth. “They’re saying, ‘We have faith that these young people can help contribute to our understanding of the world.’ That’s what I find exciting about it.” 

The one-time grant provides $2,000 for each of two consecutive summers, but Fellows typically remain well connected with the program beyond the award years, thanks to a series of events and gatherings where past and present awardees can network and discuss their research. 

“It’s been a privilege to work with a number of brilliant folks,” Seth says, “and it’s that much sweeter when they look like me."