One day, Eyako Heh sees himself as a research professor heavily involved in community outreach and activism, bridging divides and helping to fix some of most pressing systemic issues we face as a society.
It’s a vision inspired by his experiences and relationships at Ohio State.
“Ohio State is a fantastic institute,” says Heh, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science and a minor in geography in 2021. “I had a wide breadth of experiences at Ohio State and I’m really thankful I was able to dip my toes in many different disciplines outside my own. It’s as important to figure out what you don’t want to do as it is to figure out what you do want to do.”
Heh, who completed the International Affairs Scholars program, is currently completing research as a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP). Recently, he spoke with us about his future and Ohio State’s role in shaping it.
On top of that, writing my thesis really solidified that I wanted to become an academic because I have this love for writing and research and going into communities and doing the field work. Professor Joel Wainwright, in the Department of Geography, sparked that in me. He became my thesis advisor; he always had my back and was very encouraging. A great mentor overall.
Corey Efron (program manager in Ohio State’s Undergraduate Fellowship Office) was another great mentor. I wouldn’t have my current fellowship if it wasn’t for him. He always gave me that extra push and guidance I needed.
Before that I was at the Canadian Parliament through STEP (Second-year Transformational Experience Program) and I started researching issues pertaining social media hate against immigrants, for example, in Europe. That really mobilized my interest and advocacy surrounding the nexus of technology and social justice.
Also the research I did with Amanda Robinson (associate professor of Political Science). We looked into race-based discrimination against African immigrants to the United States. So a lot of my research has involved race, social justice, technology, surveillance and state power.
And then the geography department was critical in my development. I didn’t even understand what geography was until I took a class; I thought it was just cartography, map making, but it’s way more than that. You have subdisciplines of critical geography, human geography, political geography. Seeing the world through the lens of space and power really transformed the way I see myself in space and how I see others around me.