I first visited Appian Way around this time last year to attend the Diversity Recruitment Program (DRP). During DRP, I heard powerful voices from faculty, staff, and students articulating their stance on complex challenges in education and their day-to-day agency on all students’ behalf. I was amazed by others and second-guessed my ability. I remember combating my imposter syndrome with a phone call to my mentor and check-in with my closest friends. I ultimately decided to apply and you can guess how that turned out.
One year later, I found myself on the student life panel addressing attendees of this year’s DRP. It was surreal. Although I felt much more comfortable in Askwith Hall this time around, my impression of those around me did not shift. I met a prospective student who works specifically with low-performing students to understand their deepest needs. I connected with another prospective student who worked for several community based organizations–she worked with traditional age college-going students and veterans. I chatted with someone who hopes to champion international education policy, and she asked me how one’s intersectionality exists in spaces like HGSE.
I shared something with those in attendance at the student panel at DRP that I realize is truer every moment I spend here. An alumnus of HGSE and I had a chat about content of knowledge and the unknown. Imagine a sphere. The sphere itself represents the content of knowledge you have acquired. The space around the sphere is the unknown. As you continue to learn, the sphere grows in size. But as it grows, there is more surface area that interacts with the unknown space around it. Thus, the more content you learn, relatively speaking, the more aware you are of just how much is unknown.
If you’re looking into HGSE to confirm your theories and acquire the Harvard laurel, I’d encourage you to pause. This place has a habit of converting your answers into many complex questions. The personal resolve you have to dive into what matters deeply to you is what sustains you here, not molding your learning only to confirm your hypothesis. I hope that’s a nugget that you find helpful, especially because you might just find yourself here next year in the class of 2018, sharing your own journey to HGSE on a student panel.
Taaha Mohamedali is a Master’s of Education candidate in Higher Education. Prior to enrolling at Harvard, Taaha was an admissions officer coordinating efforts to improve access for marginalized groups at Lafayette College. He hopes to improve transitional support structures for these groups in the years to come. His passions include spoken word, comedy, and rock, paper, scissors.