Former AHI Undergraduate Fellow Steven Pet
Steve was graduated in 2012 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Hamilton College. A history major, he received the Edgar Baldwin Graves Prize for excellence in history; Putnam Prize for distinguished record in American history; Dean Alfange Prize for best essay on American constitutional government; and Cunningham Prize for best essay on Abraham Lincoln. He wrote his senior thesis under the direction of AHI Charter Fellows Douglas Ambrose and Robert Paquette.
As an AHI Undergraduate Fellow, Steve was awarded a summer fellowship from the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City and was one of two students chosen in 2012 by the AHI to present a paper at the prestigious Annual Undergraduate Conference in the American Polity, held at Georgetown University. He presented on “Pulling the Lever of Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln, the Slaves, and the Coming of the Emancipation Proclamation.” From 2012 to 2014, Steve has worked in government administration for the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Competition.
In informing AHI fellows Paquette and Ambrose of his decision to attend the University of Virginia School of Law, Steve acknowledged the nurturing role of the AHI in his intellectual development and, indeed, devoted his sample essay in applying to law schools to the AHI. “I joined AHI as a student fellow,” he wrote, “despite my liberal politics, or – perhaps more accurately – because of them. Eager to debate wide-ranging perspectives, I attended lectures by prominent conservative scholars, presented at AHI-sponsored conferences, and joined discussion groups on hot-button political issues. . . . Sustained dialogue among men and women of different ideological backgrounds promotes empathy among students and faculty, weakens assumptions and stereotypes, and prevents majorities and minorities alike from slipping into intellectual complacency. Intellectual diversity, however, demands more than mere tolerance of dissent. It also requires a commitment, especially on the part of the majority, to debate openly and honestly with ideological opponents, accepting that they play a valuable role in advancing knowledge.”
“Steve Pet stood out,” observed Paquette, “as one of the most dedicated students I have ever taught during my thirty-four years at Hamilton College. He always came to class prepared to discuss my rather daunting list of required readings. After class, he sought me out for additional criticism of his work. One of his great strengths is the stamina that he possesses in carefully sifting through evidence before determining what is relevant to obtain the desired configuration in explaining an event. He turned in a senior thesis that was potentially publishable. His combination of intelligence, character, and aptitude for detail makes him a superb candidate for the best law schools, and in my mind, UVA Law School is one of the very best in the country. Steve joins a growing list of AHI alums who have an impressive list of accomplishments to their credit at a very young age.”
“Steve Pet possesses a first-rate historical mind, an exemplary work ethic, and an insatiable inquisitiveness,” added Ambrose. “I believe he could have become an important and accomplished historian, but he knows himself well; he wants to be a lawyer, and he will be an exceptionally good one. In the classes in which I taught him and in our frequent conversations outside of class, he displayed an intellectual hunger and honesty that expressed themselves through his attentiveness, his probing questions, his appreciation for complexity, and his willingness to rethink his assumptions and even his settled convictions. Unlike so many across today’s political spectrum, Steve listens carefully to everyone and thinks before he speaks. He is refreshingly free of dogmatism and cant and is willing to consider alternative points of view and interpretation. He gets along with a wide variety of his peers, and I have witnessed him debate others in intense but respectful encounters both in and outside the classroom. His interactions with others provide him with further opportunities to seek and find answers to the questions that drive his curious and active mind. I wish him the best as he begins what promises to be a distinguished career at the University of Virginia Law School.”