3 Perspectives on the Zuckerman Fellowship


The Zuckerman Fellowship is a leadership fellowship through the The Harvard Kennedy Center for Public Leadership. It is for individuals who are committed to public service. It aims to bring together a multidisciplinary group to collaborate on ways to solve the complex problems facing society. The fellows are all in the process or have completed a MBA, MD, or JD and pursuing a supplemental masters: MPP, MPA, MPH and M.Ed.  This makes for a very diverse group. This year there are three HGSE Zuckerman Fellows (Zucks as we lovingly call ourselves), and in true collaborative fashion, we have come together to share three of our most valued co-curricular opportunities we have experienced through the fellowship.

Chris on the Multidisciplinary Aspect

The Zuckerman Fellowship is predicated on the idea that in order to address our nation’s challenges, a multidisciplinary approach to leadership is necessary. The Zucks have been described as “boundary crossers,” with each member bringing to the table professional expertise in law, business, or medicine with the goal of expanding their knowledge in the realm of public service, through studies in public policy, public health, or education. This creates a cohort with, not only, incredible experience and perspective, but also tremendous hope for creating change. Despite our different paths at Harvard and beyond, we are bound by our mutual desire to expand our worlds and learn from others. For each of us, this year represents a point of inflection in our careers, leaving our comfort zone to try something new. For me, this shared experience has been one of the most valuable aspects of the Zuckerman program. Getting to know each of the Zucks and talk through our plans, hopes, and dreams has shown me how much we each have in common despite our varied trajectories. They Zucks have proved to be a home base this year when I’m doubting my direction or trying to define a new path. Diverse expertise is valuable, but the shared experience of being a “boundary crosser” has proven to be truly invaluable.

Josh on Leadership

This wasn’t the typical way most of us would choose to spend an early Saturday morning, but this day was different. As Zuckerman Fellows, we are a part of the Center for Public Leadership that functions as our training ground, equipping us to deal with the complexities of modern leadership. In pursuit of that mission, we had the opportunity to participate in an intensive, all-day workshop on Public Narrative with Marshall Ganz, a national leader in strategic grassroots organizing. Throughout the day, we listened to each other’s incredible stories come to life, and practiced vulnerability as we put our personal hopes and dreams on display. This is only one among many workshops and sessions focused on developing a greater depth of self-awareness in order to actualize the leadership potential within each of us. As I have continued to learn more about difficult issues facing education at HGSE, the Zuckerman Fellowship has been a wonderful place to reflect on these issues with a multidisciplinary perspective and gain confidence and inspiration to effect change through servant-leadership.

Tracy on Community

The Zucks: this is a group of individuals, who have contributed and dedicated their lives to service and have come together to create something truly unique – a community of people who are committed to each other. I am reminded of the recent fellows welcome retreat on Cape Cod. On the retreat, one Zuck mentioned that he had never held a live crab. The Cape is filled with tiny crabs crawling through the sand, and we made it our mission to make his dream come true. Through the innovation of borrowing another fellow’s t-shirt and many arms plunging into the bay, we worked together to catch these tiny crustaceans. The willingness to support and connect on any level – from catching animals to supporting each other’s personal, career, or life paths – is a commitment felt from every Zuck to another. A former Zuck once said, “We are the keepers of each other dreams,” and in a community where we all come as equals, this is a sacred task that we all step forward to hold together.

And although this highlights just three things that we value about being Zuckerman fellows, we are grateful to take these experiences back into the classrooms on Appian Way. However, I think, what cannot be understated is the value that we are able to provide the Zuckerman community from what we learn and develop here at HGSE. Our perspectives and foundation here at HGSE contribute to the Zucks, and we are fortunate to be a part of both of these thriving communities.

Zuck authors
From left to right: Chris Clayton, Tracy Seimears, Josh Onyango

Written by HGSE Zuckerman Fellows Chris Clayton, Josh Onyango, and Tracy Seimears

Chris Clayton is currently between his third and fourth year of medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in NYC in the Bassett Track. He is pursuing a Masters in the Higher Education program at HGSE. Chris is interested in working in undergraduate medical education administration in curriculum development with a focus on social medicine, community collaboration, and student support services.

Josh Onyango was drawn to the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) program at HGSE to pursue questions that had accumulated over the course of his first three years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Many of these questions involve how to most effectively utilize technology to improve student outcomes, facilitate more collaborative mentorships, and empower patients to take an active role in their care.

Tracy Seimears is currently working as a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital after recently completing her pediatric residency here in Boston. I am interested in a full multidisciplinary experience to support my interests of utilizing education as a tool for providers to advocate for disadvantaged patients and communities. I found my fit at HGSE in the Specialized Studies Program (SSP). From the incredible SSP cohort, to the coursework and extracurriculars, I have been able to take coursework at Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School plus a foundational grounding here on Appian Way.