What would you give to be in a conference call with the vice president of the United States? For UMKC sophomore Nikita Joshi, all it took was a love of history.
Joshi, who is double majoring in history and English, is one of 10 students from the United States set to visit Ireland later this year as part of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship study abroad program. There she will be learning about Ireland’s history of revolution and social reform, as well as its artistic and literary scene.
“I’ve already received so many tips and suggestions from friends and faculty members about sites to visit,” Joshi said. “But the first places I’m hoping to check out are the Oscar Wilde House and the library of Trinity College in Dublin.”
To enter the study abroad program, Joshi had to submit a video essay expressing how inspired she was by Douglass’ legacy and secure a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
The official announcement of the ten selected students took place on St. Patrick’s Day, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin [the head of government in Ireland], Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Nettie Washington Douglass.
Joshi described her experience of being in a conference call with Vice President Harris and Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
“There was a lot of anticipation. We received a schedule the night before that detailed everything down to the minute, and a White House staff member even did a ten-second countdown as we waited for Vice President Harris to join the call,” Joshi said. “It all moved very quickly, but despite that, both she and Taoiseach Martin were so kind, genuine, supportive, and encouraging. I left the conference feeling like I could do anything.”
Joshi expressed her appreciation for having an opportunity to discuss and learn about Douglass’ time in Ireland, and the emotional impact it had on his personal development and activism.
“I’m deeply humbled and honored to have the opportunity to walk in his footsteps and learn more about his journey,” Joshi said.
As for Joshi’s other inspirations, she listed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, because of her story, spirit, dedication and undeterred enthusiasm.
Actress and filmmaker Jane Fonda was also cited as an inspiration and hero for Joshi, because of her incredible talent and commitment to using her platform as a vehicle for social awareness and political reform during a career spanning six decades.
Joshi said that she is still figuring out what the future chapters of her life will look like, but she believes that graduate school will be one of them.
“A lot of my undergraduate research has focused on South Asian culture and politics, so I’m hoping to continue pursuing that interest in a graduate program,” Joshi said. “Of course, if you ask me this question six months from now, I’ll probably have a different answer. I’m trying to keep my options open and see where my opportunities take me.”