Reflecting on My First Semester on Appian Way

The past semester has been a challenging one, without a doubt, but it has also been one filled with immense personal growth, laughter, support, and meaningful assignments. If I said being a graduate student was easy, I’d be lying to you. However, at HGSE I’ve found support, resources, and learning that have made this semester’s journey well worth it.

Coming to the Harvard Graduate School of Education I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect, but I assumed that my professors would be largely unavailable outside of class. As a student who thrives on one-on-one interactions for my learning, this definitely made me apprehensive as decision day approached. This semester I’ve found the opposite of what I expected. Most of my professors respond to student communication promptly and effectively, work with their students’ schedules to meet with them, and are understanding of most student needs. Beyond professors, everyone who works at HGSE works hard to be available for students and student groups, including Dean Jim Ryan, the Office of Student Affairs, Career Services, and more. The environment is one that feels as though everyone there wants you to succeed, which is crucial in graduate school when the workload can be a lot to shoulder.

The fall semester introduced me to amazing people between the HGSE faculty and my peers, taught me a great deal about education, and pushed me to be a better scholar than I thought possible. First, my classes and assignments have been instrumental in pushing me to think about education in new ways. All of my classes from A608, to Critical Race Theory in Education, to Reading Instruction and Development, have engaged me in meaningful discussions with my peers, connected me to pertinent research in the field, and furnished opportunities, in both individual and group assignments, to reflect on what it means to take these lessons from Appian Way to U.S. schools. My final paper for A608, and my research projects in other courses are things that I will revisit as I move forward in my career. In addition to the amazing faculty and the undeniable learning and personal growth I’ve experienced since August, the connections I’ve made with my peers are ones that I hope to take with me well beyond May when this program ends. Overall, as I reflect on this semester, I’m thankful for each day I’ve spent on Appian Way.

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Kaci McClure is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy program. Her primary passions are increasing literacy skills among high school students; addressing inequity in low-income, largely minority schools; and culturally responsive teaching. A transplant out of Louisiana who originally hails from Texas, Kaci has an affinity for sweet tea, spicy food, and the word “y’all.” She’s also an avid supporter of conscious rap and frybread, neither correlated to the other but both very powerful.