Stanford Humanities Center Celebrates Tenth Anniversary of Hume Honors Program

This year’s ten graduating seniors presented at an annual symposium, previewing their work on projects in linguistics, art history, sociology, international relations, and other fields.

Jun 3, 2024
Nicholas Rosenbaum
Nicholas Rosenbaum, '24, majored in Comparative Literature and German Studies. His work focuses on the history of imaginative literature and philosophy. (image credit: Steve Castillo)

"It's really hard to say goodbye," said Svetlana Turetskaya, the Humanities Center’s  International and Academic Programs Manager, in her heartfelt introduction for this year’s cohort of Hume Honors Fellows who were presenting their honors theses at an end-of-year symposium in Levinthal Hall last month. "I'm so lucky to get to know ten wonderful human beings, not just wonderful, but very smart, very talented, creative, and very kind and generous—and just fun to be around and talk to. It's truly an honor to manage this program."

Since 2013, the Humanities Center has been awarding these unique fellowships to outstanding seniors writing an honors thesis in one of Stanford’s humanities departments. Hume Fellows are chosen from candidates nominated by faculty each fall. They receive a stipend for research, space in a dedicated undergraduate office at the Center, and opportunities for group activities throughout the year, such as the annual Hume Symposium where they preview their work for peers, advisors, and the program benefactors.

2024 Hume Fellow Becca Faith De Los Santos
Becca Faith De Los Santos, '24, majored in French. Her research explores the ambiguities of French abolitionist legislation and how enslaved individuals exercised agency in nineteenth-century Senegal. (image credit: Steve Castillo)

What began as a three-year pilot program, made possible by a gift from George and Leslie Hume, both graduates of Stanford themselves, has become part of the fabric of the Humanities Center.

"It is such a joy for us, intellectually and personally, to have these ten seniors with us every year, and to observe how much they throw themselves into the community," said Humanities Center Director Roland Greene in his opening remarks at the recent symposium. "There is nothing like coming here after a late work dinner because I forgot to pick up something in my office, and finding a group of Hume Fellows sitting up in the dining room at eleven o’clock talking something out or working on their laptops. Thanks to them, the building really goes 24/7."

Read Q&A’s with this year’s Hume Fellows

Reconnecting with Former Fellows

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Hume Honors Fellowships, the Humanities Center reached out to alums of the program and invited them to attend the symposium as well as share their updates.

Ashwin Pillai
Former Hume Fellow Ashwin Pillai, pictured in 2023, is completing a coterminal MA at Staford. (Image credit: Steve Castillo)

Joining in person was Ashwin Pillai, ‘23, who is completing a coterminal MA in philosophy at Stanford and will begin at Yale Law School next year. "The Hume Honors Fellowship gave me a warm intellectual community,” said Pillai. “The extremely positive experience I had is what inspires me to further pursue academic work in the humanities as I move forward in my career.”

Others shared their reminiscences online:

“Lunch with the faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows helped me to see myself as a young scholar and to place faith in my own intellectual judgment,” said Miguel Samano, ‘19, who is in his fourth year of a PhD in English at UC Berkeley. His undergraduate honors thesis was published as a chapter in The Artist as Eyewitness (UCLA Chicano Studies Center Press, 2021).

For Alina Utrata, ‘17, now a PhD candidate in politics and international studies at Cambridge University, the fellowship was “a wonderful window into what a positive and constructive academic environment could look like. As I move through academia myself,” she says, “I always remember the attention and care given to cultivating a vibrant community.”

“My thesis project on marine documentaries, which I worked on at the Center, has directly inspired my dissertation work which continues to look at the intersections of simulated environments and media,” says Alex Zivkovic, ‘17. Currently a sixth-year PhD candidate at Columbia University in art history and archaeology, Zivkivic is working on greenhouses, aquariums, and colonial gardens.

Nominations for the Hume Program

The Humanities Center will be accepting nominations for the 2024–25 program in the fall. Faculty interested in nominating a student working on an honors thesis in the humanities are asked to contact Svetlana Turetskaya, International and Academic Programs Manager, For more information, visit the Humanities Center online.