Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I am pursuing a doctoral degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. While the topic is certainly disturbing, I believe that it is essential. My rationale for studying the Holocaust is multifaceted. First, the Holocaust is a window into humanity. Humans are capable of staggering evils––and the Holocaust proves that. At the same time, humans are able to stand in the face of hatred, to find a reserve of strength, and to continue to resist—and the Holocaust evidences that, too. Though there can be terrible darkness, light can conquer darkness.

The Holocaust demonstrates that we, as humans, do not have to follow the crowd. Evil will exist. But we do not have to give in to it. The Holocaust proves that even if evil is stronger than we are, we do not have to give up. Even one upstander can save lives. An individual has power, and every individual life––whether that of an upstander or a victim––matters.

Second, the Holocaust demonstrates the effect of beliefs upon actions. When a population is trained to hate the Jews and to see them as scapegoats, disaster follows. When Jews are blamed for the economic problems of a country, hatred will likely ensue. Thoughts often lead to actions. Racism and bigotry are destructive.

Finally, I honestly believe that the most effective way for me to make an impact on the continual crime of genocide is through education. When the Holocaust is considered, not as some incomprehensible evil, but as a complex tragedy that could occur again, or when the perpetrators are described, not as monsters, but as humans who chose to commit terrible crimes, the Holocaust becomes a lesson from which we can learn for the future. Triggers to genocide can be acknowledged. Education and collaboration can overcome racism. Never again can become a reality.

Jason from California
Gratz College