Faculty Profile

Walter Hakala.

Walter Hakala

Assistant Professor


  • PhD, South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2010
  • MA, Urdu Literature, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2004
  • BA, Asian Studies, University of Virginia, 2001

Professional experience:

  • Assistant Professor, Education, University at Buffalo

What mentoring means to me:

I was fortunate to have had brilliant and caring mentors early in my academic career. Rather than holding my hand at each step, they were scholars who trusted that I would be motivated to learn on my own. They shared books, coffee and frank advice. They also asked really tough questions. Like them, I now see myself not as a gate keeper but a gate opener. There are so many opportunities to work, study and travel in Asia and Africa. I want to help students who wish to travel there or just learn more about their own communities.

Topics I am willing to discuss with students:

Minority Experiences

  • Being a woman and related discrimination.
  • Class and/or socioeconomic status and related discrimination.
  • Physical health and/or abilities and related discrimination.
  • Mental health and/or abilities and related discrimination.
  • Racial, ethnic, cultural and/or religious minority status and related discrimination.
  • Sexual and/or gender minority status and related discrimination.

Personal Circumstances

  • Caregiving for children.
  • Caregiving for other loved ones.
  • Financial stress and strain.
  • Non-U.S. citizen or immigrant experiences.
  • Veteran and military family experiences.

Academic Culture

  • Considering a non-academic path after grad school.
  • Dealing with politics and conflict with faculty or peers.
  • Decoding and demystifying academic culture and norms.
  • Taking a non-traditional path to grad school.
  • Uncertainty about staying in grad school.