Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of being part of the festivities surrounding HGSE’s Diversity Recruitment Program (DRP). Over the two days of DRP, prospective applicants from all over and with diverse backgrounds visit Appian Way for the weekend to learn more about their programs of interest, interact with professors and current students, and start to wrap their heads around the many details involved in applying to HGSE.
On Friday, I participated in DRP as a student attendee at the HGSE Community Reception. While there, I and other students got to meet the ones whose shoes we were in last year to talk (informally and over food) about our memories of the admissions process and our experiences at HGSE thus far. It was really fun to share my story and especially meaningful to me to help ease the minds of amazing individuals who may have felt that they didn’t fit the mold of what a “Harvard” student should be.
In addition to the reception, I had been asked to lead a session on Saturday to help applicants brainstorm about their Statements of Purpose and to provide some insight into my own writing process. This would require me to allow a room full of prospective applicants to read copies of the very Statement that I had submitted to the Office of Admissions one year prior (they, for one reason or another, seemed to not think it was horrible). My personal goal for the year is to say “yes” more, so I agreed, but not without a fair amount of anxiety.
You see, I had been extremely secretive about and protective of my application to HGSE. The only people who knew about my decision to apply were the individuals who wrote my letters of recommendation; my own family had no idea I had even been considering Harvard until the day I received my acceptance letter. To say that they were pleasantly surprised when they heard the news is an understatement. I allowed exactly zero people to view my Statement of Purpose before I submitted it way too close to the deadline—about two minutes before 11:59pm—and hoped for the best.
The thought of having prospective students read and potentially critique my Statement, which no other eyes had ever seen, was utterly daunting, but my desire to help out and pay it forward outweighed my fear. When the time came for my session to begin and the copies of my Statement were handed out, I felt strangely calm. Ultimately, everything went well and the session turned out to be a great ending to DRP. Some of the attendees even stayed afterward to thank me for sharing my Statement and said they felt less nervous about writing their own, which was so relieving to hear.
I’m extremely grateful to have been able to contribute to making DRP the wonderful weekend it was and I hope that the many prospective applicants I met will have the opportunity to join the HGSE family.
Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.