College of Arts and Sciences
Major: History, Class of 2013
Now: Getting his PhD at Yale University
Although Pedro Regalado didn’t use his Loyola degree to get a job right out of college, he still ended up somewhere special: Yale University.
Regalado, who started his educational journey at a community college in Philadelphia, is now pursuing a doctorate in American studies at one of the premier universities in the world. And he wouldn’t be there, he said, without the lessons he learned at Loyola. “(My professors) really pushed me to become a better thinker, researcher, and writer,” he said.
Here, he talks about life at an elite university, how his professors at Loyola helped shape his career, and why he wants to do the same for the next generation of historians.
What’s it like to be a PhD student at an Ivy League university?
It’s been an incredible learning experience. At times, the workload can be heavy, but I am truly enjoying the process of mastering my craft and working toward my dissertation. What stands out most, however, are the people that I’ve gotten to meet and work with thus far. My colleagues and professors are deeply supportive, and I feel so lucky to be around such a generous group.
How did Loyola prepare you for graduate school?
I received such great guidance from my history professors—in particular, Michelle Nickerson, Elizabeth Shermer, and Kyle Roberts. They really pushed me to become a better thinker, researcher, and writer. The McNair Scholars program also was instrumental in preparing me for what came next. From GRE preparation to university visits, the program gave me a solid sense of what to expect and how to succeed in graduate school. (Read more about the role Loyola played in Regalado’s life in this essay he wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education.)
Talk a little about your area of interest/research and why it’s so important.
As an urban historian interested in structural inequality, my research focuses on the relationships between marginalized groups/communities and state institutions responsible for their well-being. My experience as a poor, underrepresented person of color provides me with a unique perspective through which to examine these issues, but also with a motivation to achieve social justice.
Any advice for undergraduates thinking about getting a PhD?
First, research the contours of your field. Who are the people most active in it and have there been any major changes in recent years? Secondly, find a great mentor. When I met Professor Nickerson, I knew little about the field of urban history, but she helped me understand it while also showing me how to situate my work in the field. Finally, go with your gut. If a PhD is what your heart points to, go for it.
And finally, where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I’d like to be a professor who is helping to shape the field in new and creative directions. I also look forward to teaching students in the incredible ways that my professors taught me. Most of all, though, I want to be proud of my work and of my decisions.