Valeria M. Pelet del Toro
Associate, Kaplan Hecker & Fink
Thesis Title: A Multi_Viral Multitude: The Evolving Politics of Solidarity in the Music of Calle 13
What Now: Law Clerk at Kaplan Hecker & Fink
Follow Me: @valeriampelet (Twitter); LinkedIn
I arrived at Harvard after briefly parting ways with my hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though it took me a while to admit it, I felt completely out of place at Harvard my freshman year—trapped by how rigid the institution seemed to me. It was during a head-clearing walk, however, that I stumbled upon the Barker Center, a place that I soon came to call home (though during thesis time we were on less cordial terms).
History & Literature defined my undergraduate experience at Harvard. As a student, I was passionate about subjects and disciplines that, at first glance, seemed either mutually exclusive or too complicated to study in tandem. History & Literature not only supported my interests, it pushed me to think about ways that made working with a multiplicity of stories more academically rigorous and compelling. The program also made me cross paths with brilliant scholars like Anna Deeny, Rebeca Hey-Colón, Lorgia García Peña, Elizabeth More, and Frances Sullivan, to name a few. The constant exchange between me and my professors culminated in my senior thesis, an exploration of the political history of Calle 13, an urban music band from Puerto Rico.
The experience left me yearning for new ways to continue to tell people’s stories. After graduation, I traded the Barker Center’s cream-colored halls for the modern façade of the Watergate in Washington, D.C. to work at The Atlantic magazine. There, I served as an editorial events producer, translating the magazine’s pieces into standalone works of live journalism. I then went to Yale Law School to refine the interdisciplinary skills I began to develop as a History & Literature student. I hope to continue to build on the values that History & Literature instilled in me as an undergraduate—curiosity, perseverance, and collaboration—so I can ultimately discover the best way to serve my community, in Puerto Rico and beyond.