Author Archives: Ashley Litzenberger

Co-Curriculars: The Icing on the Cake

Being a student at HGSE is a lot like eating your favorite cake.  It’s something you look forward to with anticipation and something that you have to pace yourself through in order to enjoy every moment. Ever eaten so much of your favorite food you can’t stand it anymore?  At HGSE, it’s easy to get burned out or feel over burdened if you don’t pace yourself.  The research opportunities, courses, peers, and professors at HGSE make up the base of the cake.  They are what define the bulk of the “HGSE experience.” But a cake is not complete without its frosting, and I would be remiss if I reflected on HGSE without thinking about the activities, events, and resources that make up the icing.

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Study Break!

About this time last year I was busy following up with recommenders, writing and rewriting my essays, and triple checking my transcript uploads.  Although the application process is over for the Ph.D. and Ed.L.D. applicants, I know many of you are still navigating the application process. So, since everyone is talking about that dreaded A-word (applications), I thought I’d talk about something else: Cookies!

I stumbled upon this video while taking a “study break” (okay, I was procrastinating) and it ended up inspiring me not only to make cookies but to go back to writing my final paper for History of American Higher Education.  The video is deceptively simple 270-second animated explanation of what happens to cookies when they bake.

The beauty of the video is that in 270 seconds, it introduces lipids, salmonella, protein structures, includes animated explanations of how each of these are affected by change in temperature, and an overview of Maillard Reactions and caramelization.  It even tells you where to set the temperature to make the perfect soft or crunchy cookie.

As a student at the Ed school (and a student avoiding finals), I reasoned that I had an obligation to make cookies and test this video.  So, I bought a log of cookie dough and preheated my oven to a daring 320 degrees and popped the cookies in without a timer.

Then I realized I’d been tricked into doing a chemistry experiment.  And that’s when inspiration hit me.  I’m at HGSE to learn how to improve education and make learning something students can look forward to.  TEDed taught me a little biology and a little chemistry in less than five minutes, and reminded me that I’m here to make learning as fun and rewarding as baking cookies.

So, I encourage you to take a study break, bake some cookies, and think about what inspires you as you complete your applications.  As for me, I’ll be enjoying these as I continue working my way through finals.

Ashley Litzenberger is a Graduate Assistant in HGSE Office of Admissions and Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education Program. Prior to attending HGSE, Ashley worked in Israel on projects that promoted peace dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She looks forward to exploring the ways in which colleges and universities facilitate intercultural dialogues. 

The Paradox of Choice

Personally, I’m a very slow decision maker. I’ll research 10 different types of portable coffee mugs before purchasing one on Amazon, and I’ll look at every permutation of travel (bus, train, plane and car) before buying my tickets home for Christmas. So, when it came time to choose which programs to apply to during my applications, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Early in my application process, I discovered that each school usually had two or three different programs that fell into my interests. When I learned that the applications at most schools require applicants to identify a single program to apply to, I fell victim to the paradox of choice. The paradox of choice states that as we are presented with more options, our decision-making becomes less clear and more labored. It wasn’t a choice between 15 different cookies, but it was a choice that would lead to a one to two-year commitment. No pressure right? Here are a couple of factors that I found useful when selecting my program (at HGSE and at other schools too):

1. What are the required courses? Because these courses cannot be negotiated, compare the required curriculum of the programs you are considering. Look for the core curriculum that most closely aligns with your professional interests. You can also check HGSE’s course catalog to determine if some courses are only open to members within a certain program.

2. Who are the professors and what do they research? Regardless of where you end up, you’ll have access to all the professors at your institution. However, you will have more access to professors associated with your program as one of them will be your advisor and its likely that you will take more classes with those professors. Find out which Professors are doing research related to your interests.

3. What do alumni in the program do? It really is useful to check out alumni profiles to see where students end up; it will help give an idea of typical career paths you can pursue with your degree. Alternatively, search for the job you’d like to have in 15 or 25 years. Read the bios of individuals in those positions and figure out what they studied.

4. What skills do you want or need to acquire through your studies? Once you know what skills you need to acquire, double-check the program requirements to make sure that the program can meet those needs. If it doesn’t then it isn’t the right fit.

HGSE offers 15 different academic programs. On the master’s level, the programs of study range from Arts in Education to Technology, Innovation and Education, Prevention Science and Practice to International Education Policy. Although each program is unique, they are designed to overlap with one another to encourage students to collaborate across programs. Initially I found this frustrating because it meant that multiple programs fit my interests. In reality, it means that while you do apply to single program, there is so much flexibility built in, you can almost build your own program.

My courses this year are almost evenly split between Higher Education (HEP) and International Education Policy (IEP).   I chose to apply to Higher Education program because its core classes and the research of two doctoral candidates aligned best with my interests.  I knew I would have been happy in both programs, but I felt that taking the core classes in HEP  and several electives in IEP would best suit my needs in interests.  Looking back, I’m glad I put a lot of thought into it and made the right decision (for me).  Good luck with yours!

Ashley Litzenberger is a Graduate Assistant in HGSE Office of Admissions and Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education Program. Prior to attending HGSE, Ashley worked in Israel on projects that promoted peace dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She looks forward to exploring the ways in which colleges and universities facilitate intercultural dialogues. 

“Only you can make the contribution you will make.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to the Radcliffe Institute to discuss women’s rights and left us with few words of advice:

“Observe. Think. Act.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Presidential Report on Women, the Radcliffe Institute invited Nancy Pelosi to discuss the progress and challenges of women’s rights today.  The Report, commissioned by President Kennedy in 1961, examined how American laws and social norms inhibited equal rights and pay for women, and recommended a series of reforms intended to increase access and equality for women in the work force.  Pelosi’s advice is reflected in the work of the Presidential commission and her career public service.

Speaker Pelosi during her visit.

Speaker Pelosi during her visit.

Pelosi, a warm and captivating speaker, sprinkles personal anecdotes and jokes throughout her speech in order to  humanizing herself and helping us connect with the questions she answers and issues she raises.    She opened her discussion with a few memories of President Kennedy, recalling her feelings as a star-struck teenager meeting Senator Kennedy and sharing her opinion of his acceptance speech as President-Elect.  Her story evokes the image of an inspirational leader with movie-star status.

Pelosi walked us through the feminists who petitioned for women’s right to vote, the first vanguard to enter the workforce during the war, the second wave that remained at work or create a place for women outside the home, those those who lead the way into political leadership.  She about the significance of the Presidential Report on Women and the changes that have taken place since its publication in 1963, including a formal end to gender discrimination in hiring, paid maternity leave, a call for equal wages, and judicial assistance to recognize equal rights and opportunities for women. She also spoke about her experiences as leader and advocate for women’s rights.  Today, Pelosi campaigns to raise minimum wage, improve pay equity, increase sick leave, and establish affordable child care.

After breaking through the “marble ceiling” in congress by becoming the first female congressional leader, Pelosi describes the feeling of sharing her seat at the table that day with activists Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Recalling her first meeting at the White house as Democratic House Leader for a meeting between the congressional leaders, president, and vice president she said “I looked and I realized this was unlike any meeting I had ever been to before. In fact, it was unlike any meeting that any women had been to before.”

Pelosi praised the work of the men and women who laid the foundation for change while outlining the work left to be done and the importance of leaders take action to create change.  She emphasized our responsibility to take action and to use our abilities make a difference: “Only you can make the contribution you will make.”

To read more about Pelosi’s visit to the Radcliffe Center, check out the Harvard Gazette at  http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/10/the-measure-of-a-woman/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11.01.daily%2520%281%29 

Ashley Litzenberger is a Graduate Assistant in HGSE Office of Admissions and Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education Program. Prior to attending HGSE, Ashley worked in Israel on projects that promoted peace dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She looks forward to exploring the ways in which colleges and universities facilitate intercultural dialogues. 

What is a Cohort?

At HGSE you hear the word ‘cohort’ constantly.  Students, professors, and admissions brochures refer to it as if it was the secret ingredient in HGSE’s award-winning recipe- and in a way this is true.  As a perspective student I kept thinking “okay, this cohort is clearly important, but what exactly is it?”

A cohort is a group of students studying in the same academic program.  Like undergrad, your class is determined by the year in which you and classmates will graduate (HGSE Class of ’15).   Your cohort is the group of students in your program concentration and class year (IEP Class of ’15).

There are fifteen cohorts on campus- one for each of the concentrations, as well as the Ed.L.D. and Ed.D/Ph.D cohorts.  Initially, you’ll get to know members of your cohort through proximity; members the same cohort spend a significant amount of time together throughout orientation.   During the semester, you’ll see the same familiar faces as you complete curriculum requirements and become involved with interest groups and student organizations on campus.  Cohorts develop internal communications systems and become an integral part of your social circle and support network while at HGSE.  But the truth is, no one can accurately describe a cohort because each cohort is unique.  A cohort is a community and each member of that community contributes something different to the overall shape and character of it.

You’ll receive text blasts, Facebook notifications, and mass emails inviting you to chili and board games at Laura’s, a tailgate before the Harvard football game, hikes in New Hampshire, library crawls (how else are you going to see all the libraries and reading rooms on campus?), study groups, local concerts, redsox games, and Askwith lectures. Your cohort will help drive your intellectual, professional and personal growth during your time at HGSE, and it will be what gets you through all of the late nights, long papers, and group projects.

Your cohort is your biggest cheerleader, most honest critic, some of your best friends, but it is not your competition.  HGSE students expect to become leaders and innovators in their chosen fields. We recognize that the best leaders are collaborators and the most important innovations occur across disciplines.   HGSE is about preparing you to make an impact, and your cohort will be one of your most important resources as you embark on this journey.

Me with Tim, also in the Higher Ed cohort, after we hiked Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire.

Me with Tim, also in the Higher Ed cohort, after we hiked Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire.

Ashley Litzenberger is a Graduate Assistant in HGSE Office of Admissions and Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education Program. Prior to attending HGSE, Ashley worked in Israel on projects that promoted peace dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She looks forward to exploring the ways in which colleges and universities facilitate intercultural dialogues. 

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