Pranav Mulpur ’19 faced a pleasant challenge this spring: He had been accepted to Harvard Law School. But he also had been accepted to Columbia Law School. And the University of Chicago Law School — the list went on. The schools jockeyed for his enrollment with competitive scholarship offers, but ultimately, after consulting with his professors, Mulpur decided to return to his home state of Massachusetts to attend Harvard and pursue his love of legal philosophy.
Before Mulpur packed his bags for Cambridge, we talked with the political science major about his path through Kenyon and the people in Knox County who helped him along the way.
How Kenyon’s faculty shaped the way he thinks:
I’ve connected to a number of faculty here, and it’s not just limited to the political science department. My advisor, Professor [Michelle] Mood, has been really helpful, not even just with academics or my career, but in terms of how I think. We have different views on a lot of different issues, but she’s good at having me think through things and at challenging me to explain myself and to defend my point of view. I took “Quest for Justice” with her as a first-year, and her class really exposed me to argument and led me on into law school.
In the past year, I’ve connected with Professor [Jason] Waller in the philosophy department because of his philosophy of law classes. He’s exposed me to legal philosophy, which I didn’t think I was going to be interested in. I always thought I was going to be a practical person and do specific kinds of litigation. He’s brilliant but also humble, so he’s willing to entertain different points of view and say, “OK, that’s an interesting point and let’s explore it,” rather than just, “OK, it’s interesting, but I’m always right and you’re wrong.” It makes you a better arguer.
How Kenyon’s Career Development Office (CDO) helped him land a spot at Harvard:
My sophomore or junior year, Maureen [Tobin, senior associate director for graduate school and career advising], invited someone from Case Western Reserve University’s law school to give a talk. I went and got some information from the speaker, and I had my first conversation with Maureen about law school. Then I developed a plan over the summer and consulted with Maureen about my application materials during the fall of senior year, and I did a mock interview with her.
The CDO is probably one of our most valuable resources on campus. Maureen’s interview prep is so helpful. She’s able to tell you how to structure an answer. A great piece of advice she gave me that will always stick with me is: Anytime anyone asks you a question in an interview, even if it’s abstract, give them a concrete example. That way, they actually listen to what you’re saying, instead of you just theorizing at them.
How a local transportation company helped him learn from different viewpoints:
I always use a local taxi business whenever I go to the airport to fly back home. Because I’m a community advisor, my schedule for breaks is a little different. I come to campus a little earlier than everyone and go home a little later, so I’m usually the only one riding in the car. It’s a family-operated business, and over the years, all three of them — the two parents and the son — we’ve gotten along really well.
We love talking about politics. We talked about this idea in a political science class: building social capital, so that when we do eventually talk about controversial topics, we have a great deal of trust already. Despite our different backgrounds, [the family and I] have a great deal of respect for each other, so when we get to controversial topics, it isn’t a shouting match. It’s an honest exchange. And it’s not just talking at someone for a while. It’s more, ‘I’m really interested in what you have to say’ — and on several occasions, I’ll change my mind, you’ll change your mind, or we’ll come to some sort of understanding.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.