Author Archives: Drew Williams

Daily Defense

The Special Studies program (SSP) here at HGSE has been the perfect fit for me, and now that I’m more than halfway done, I’m better prepared to articulate why this is true. I’m the type of learner that thrives on autonomy, and that is exactly what SSP is all about. Being in SSP means that you don’t quite fit into any of the other twelve Ed.M programs here. That sounds fun and interesting, right? Well, the challenging part is that, when it comes to finding a job, you may not fit perfectly into any of the positions that they are looking to fill!

I’ve been knee-deep in the job search process for a couple months now, and it’s actually been a great experience. It’s almost like another class in itself—it’s certainly that much work, if done correctly. Just last Friday alone I had five interviews! The reason why it’s been a great experience is because it has pushed me to advocate for my work as a Youth Development Specialist. Part of that advocacy means challenging the labels “extra-curricular” and “enrichment” when discussing the role of sports, arts, and all types of other areas of learning. If a school is paying someone to teach it, then it should be approached as “curricular.” And let’s be honest: “enrichment” might as well mean “sprinkles on top.” That’s just not how I see my work.

Almost everyday, I find myself making the case for Service Learning and other forms of project-based curricula as a great way to tackle the challenge of increasing student engagement in the learning process. The good news is that my classes here have given me the opportunity to sharpen and refine my argument, based on educational research and my practical work.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll land a great job somewhere, so that’s a plus. But beyond that, the process has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work that I’ve been doing, and for where my career is taking me.

Andrew F. Williams is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Special Studies program. He is a youth development specialist and soccer coach, working with young players in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America. He is currently developing a soccer-based academic enrichment curriculum for elementary aged students.

RPCV2HGSE

Graduate school is a world filled with acronyms, but I figure there’s always room for one more. So, this week I’m writing to you in my unofficial capacity as RPCV2HGSE. Wait, you don’t know what that is? Why, it’s a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who has made the transition to being a student at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), of course! My inspiration for this post was an email I recently received from a volunteer who is currently serving in Botswana. She wrote:

“How are you? Thanks for getting back to me. I am super excited to learn more about HGSE. I hope I don’t bombard you with too many questions. Unfortunately, my internet is not fast enough to attend their online sessions… Here are some of my questions: What program are you in? How is the student body? Did you apply to HGSE while serving abroad? Are there a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers in the program? Let’s start there for now. I hope all is well.”

I have since replied to her email, but I won’t bore you with all of my answers. What I do want to share is this: Yes, I applied to HGSE from another country while I was serving in the Peace Corps. Yes, it is very possible—despite the challenges—and I highly recommend taking on those challenges if HGSE is the place where you want to be.

I am not the only RPCV2HGSE on campus—but what I think is more important to know is that this place is crawling with people from all over, transitioning to graduate from all walks of life. Being an RPCV is cool, but it is just one of many interesting perspectives that I regularly encounter in my conversations in and out of class.

I want to make myself available to any volunteers that are reading this and may have questions about the admissions process, or what it’s like to be an RPCV2HGSE. Just contact the admissions office, and they can put you in touch with me directly!

Andrew F. Williams is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Special Studies program. He is a youth development specialist and soccer coach, working with young players in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America. He is currently developing a soccer-based academic enrichment curriculum for elementary aged students.

Personal Growth

Graduate school is a time for personal growth… intellectual growth… professional growth… and yes, facial hair growth! This month, I’m doing my best to get the HGSE campus into the spirit of Movember. Every year, folks around the world grow out their mustaches in an effort to raise awareness—and money—in support of men’s health issues, particularly cancer. We call it “changing the face of men’s health.”

I am the captain of our HGSE Movember team, and we’re looking to make our mark on the global fundraising scene! At the time of writing this post, our team is ranked #8313 in the world. But that’s beautiful! Just think, there are least 8313 teams geared up to raise money for this great cause. Also, I just started tapping into the full power of the HGSE network.

There’s a myth out there that there is no sense of community in graduate school. Supposedly, we’re all over-worked, mid-career fun-haters that are too busy for frivolities like clubs, activities and causes. This couldn’t be further from the truth here at HGSE. I get three or four emails everyday inviting me to attend an event or support an initiative being spearheaded by my classmates. This time I’m happy to be the sender of one of those emails. All I had to do was reach out to my Program Coordinator, who is putting me in touch with the Coordinators of the other 13 masters and doctoral programs at HGSE. With their help, everyone in the school should be hearing about our Movember initiative before the week is done. That’s the kind of thing that makes this experience feel less anonymous, and more like a community.

Here’s a picture of me at Brighton Barber Co., the official Barber Shop of our Movember team.

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Andrew F. Williams is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Special Studies program. He is a youth development specialist and soccer coach, working with young players in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America. He is currently developing a soccer-based academic enrichment curriculum for elementary aged students.