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Mahak Merchant

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Mahak Merchant

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Impact Fellow


BA, Native American Studies and Letters Constitutional Studies, University of Oklahoma, In progress

High School Diploma, Creekview High School, 2018

Personal Statement

At the age of five, I could speak Urdu, Sindhi, and Gujarati, but I wouldn’t dare touch the beast that was the English language. The first book I ever learned to read was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My grandfather, an immigrant, spent weeks regurgitating the sounds that he believed were the words on the page. His commitment taught me that education and compassion are the antidotes to feeling helpless. As a student, I have a responsibility to stay educated about issues that don’t affect me personally and listen to those impacted to find solutions. My goal is to be a defense attorney for Native communities, a group that often goes overlooked when talking about societal change. My story is yet to be completed, but what I do know is that it can start with something as small as a hungry caterpillar.

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Gender-based Violence Prevention & Consent Education
Death Penalty Jurisprudence & Societal Causes for Mass Incarceration

Honors and Recognition

Regents Award for Outstanding Junior
PE-ET Top Ten Rising Senior
Cuba and Ted Webb Leadership Award
Charles & Mary Ann Springer Award
Mary Nell, and Louise Perkins Scholarship Recipient (2018-2020)
Dean’s List Honor Roll (2018-2021)

Selected Research and Creative Activity

In the Pursuit of Justice: Analyzing the Role Capital Punishment Plays in Indigenous Views of Retribution, Restoration, and Justice