Author Archives: hgsedavid

It’s about that time….commencement time!

In late April near the conclusion of the Spring semester, I began to think about how to spend my time between the end of classes and graduation day. In my last posting, I mentioned a few things I had planned (a Celtics game, a Red Sox game and of course the high-stakes kickball tournament).  Somehow, I figured this time of year would be fun – but I had no idea exactly how things would eventually turn out.

The Celtics game went into overtime (and they won), Red Sox game went 17 innings (over 6 hours of baseball) and my kickball team competed valiantly and ended up tied for 3rd place. I’ve also done some exploring around Boston as I’ve spent some time in Kendall square and Beacon Hill while continuing to discover local restaurants including Harvest and Area Four (the flatbreads and rhubarb pie at AF were delicious).  And of course, end-of-the-year parties…the soiree at the Harvard faculty club last week was amazing – definitely a place to check out! With quick trips to Washington, DC and Portland, ME on the horizon, I’m definitely taking advantage of free time while I have it.

Similarly, that’s my advice for anyone planning to study at HGSE – make the most of your time here. Come in with a plan but be open-minded enough to let things develop and happen. Some of my best experiences at HGSE were things not planned or unanticipated. I would also suggest venturing out of the HGSE bubble, the Harvard bubble and the Cambridge bubble. Get to know students at other schools at Harvard and spend time off-campus, in Boston and beyond. Finally, be willing to share your opinions with others. Even if you get the sense your views may be unpopular or different from the majority, much can be learned from voices of dissent – I certainly have learned a lot from classmates with different perspectives throughout my time at HGSE.

Thanks for reading my blog this year. Hopefully anecdotes of my experience while enrolled at HGSE have provided a glimpse into the many opportunities and possibilities available to students here. Enjoy your summer!

Writing, writing, writing…

So it’s been awhile since my last blog – as you can imagine, with the end of classes and final papers, things have been quite busy here.  I have been in paper-writing mode for the past month and have lost count of the number of papers and pages written.  Teacher quality, character education, interventions…the list of paper topics goes on and on.  But I figure now would be a great time to keep writing with another blog post.

It’s hard to believe May is here already.  I’ve been thinking about transitions and all the things that need to get done before my next move.  But I’ve also taken some time to reflect on the incredible experience I’ve had the past 9 months.  I’ve been asked twice in the past week about nostalgia of my time at HGSE; I will definitely remember the friendships I’ve made, the thought-provoking conversations I’ve had and everything I’ve learned inside and outside of the classroom.

So what’s on the horizon?  Well, as Jessica mentioned in her blog, I want to explore Boston as much as possible while attending some exciting events on campus.  In the next few weeks alone, I have plans to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway and a Celtics game at TD Garden, hear Colin Powell speak at an Askwith Forum, attend a reception for graduating students and participate in the HGSE Kickball Tournament.  After graduation, I look forward to attending a conference in Portland, ME before ultimately leaving Cambridge.

Have Questions?

I remember it like it was yesterday.  The excitement was palpable – or was it sheer nervousness?  I had just arrived home from work and didn’t know what to expect.  Once I received the email from the Admissions Office, I paused to gather myself before logging into the online application.  At first, I couldn’t believe the good news.  Once some time had passed, I realized I had many questions and wanted to learn even more about HGSE before deciding to enroll.

What was the campus environment like?  How about my fellow classmates and the faculty?  At the time of admission, I had never been north of New York, so I really wanted to know what was happening in Cambridge and how Boston compared to other cities on the east coast.  I remember being impressed how welcoming the students and administration were at HGSE and how receptive they were to my questions – and believe me I had many of them.

While some great information is available on the HGSE website, I encourage anyone considering joining the HGSE community to actively seek out the information that’s important to you for making a decision – extracurricular activities, social atmosphere, city life, conferences, speakers or anything else.  I remember vividly what it was like to imagine the HGSE experience from afar; after visiting campus, talking to students, faculty and administrators, I had a much better sense of the great things to expect as a student.  So don’t be shy – ask away and hopefully you will have the opportunity to see firsthand what makes HGSE a phenomenal place.

Tea with Terry

Anyone that knows me well realizes that I love tea (people that don’t know me as well probably could guess that too).  All kinds of tea – iced tea, hot tea…virtually any flavored tea.  I can’t explain it really – there’s just something about tea that’s refreshing any time of year.

So when I found out that my faculty advisor was willing to organize informal, weekly get-togethers over tea, you can imagine just how quickly I jumped at the chance to participate (and no, it wasn’t only because of the tea).  I was hoping for the chance to get to know my advisor better and little did I know how much tea could impact my HGSE experience.

As the weeks passed during the semester, I always looked forward to these informal meetings.  What a great opportunity to get to know my advisor on a personal level and other HGSE students outside of the classroom.  Our conversations have ranged from academic topics to current events to anything really – whatever people wanted to talk about, we have discussed.  Tea with Terry has provided a chance to relax for a bit while taking a momentary break from the frenetic pace of the semester.  Taking the time to get to know my faculty advisor will be something I remember fondly when I reflect on my time at HGSE.

Conference Time…

When I thought about making the most of my time here at Harvard, I wanted to take advantage of opportunities on and off-campus while trying new things.  Being in the Boston area, I knew many colleges and universities are nearby and wanted to get involved with a conference during my time as a student.  This past weekend, I had a chance to serve on a panel at a local conference – what a great experience!

Given my interest in higher education, I was fortunate to discover a local conference in town focused on careers in student affairs at colleges and universities – right up my alley!  A fellow HGSE student offered to submit a proposal to lead a session and invited me to participate – next thing I know the proposal was accepted and I had to quickly figure out some words of wisdom to share during the session.  Good thing I’m not shy – as the attendance at the conference was more than I expected.

The panel was created to provide advice and insight into preparing graduate school applications, obtaining assistantships on campus and preparing for careers in higher education.  Attending the conference was a great opportunity to network with students sharing similar interests in the region and share my experience with others.  For anyone interested in participating or presenting at workshops or conferences, there’s no shortage of opportunities at HGSE – recently many students participated in the HGSE Social Justice Workshops and the 2012 Alumni of Color Conference.

Spring is here…

Judging by the unseasonably warm weather right now, it certainly doesn’t feel like winter.  We started the Spring semester at the end of January, so to some extent Spring is here.

In my last post, I mentioned class shopping and how I narrowed down the multitude of class offerings to a tidy number of 12 that interested me the most.  After going back and forth on my options, I settled on the following courses for the semester: Moral Adults – Moral Children, Educational Outcomes in Cross-Natural and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Issues of Diversity in Cross-Cultural Counseling and Advocacy and Inventing the Future: Building Connections from School to Career.

Just a few weeks into the semester, I can already sense some of the things I’ll take away from all of my classes.  In my Moral Adults class, we are looking beyond morality as an ideal and learning about moral capacities and how to develop them in children.  The diversity of backgrounds and experiences in my Educational Outcomes class has already enriched my experience – the class has students from a good number of countries around the world who have incredible stories and perspectives to share.  Cross-Cultural Counseling has provided several useful ways to view and approach working with students.  Finally, my Inventing the Future class has explored the connection between education and careers from a developmental perspective – fascinating given my interest in career advising.

I’m looking forward to learning more already. Now it’s time to get started on those papers…

Shopping…

So once the holidays were over, I figured all of my shopping was done for awhile – well at least until the next birthday came along.  But then I realized that with the start of a new semester would be more shopping – not just books and supplies for classes, but the class shopping period at HGSE.  With many courses to choose from, I wanted to see what I could discern during the shopping period.

For those who may not be familiar with class shopping, it happens over a two-day period before the start of classes each semester at HGSE.  Professors (or in some cases, teaching fellows) have 40 minutes to share whatever they want about their courses and answer student questions.  Some professors opt to provide an overview of the course, others lead a mini-version of a class session or walk-students through the course syllabus.  Regardless of the method, course shopping allows students a chance to learn more about a class and the professor’s teaching style to make a more informed decision on what classes they want to take for the semester.

Since I have varied interests in education, I shopped until I dropped – over the two-day period, I must have shopped 12 classes.  And let me tell you, it was well worth it.  I found out much more about each class than I would have imagined – in some cases intangibles not listed on the syllabus and changes from previous iterations of the course.  Now comes the tough part – trying to winnow down my list to 4 courses.  So what did I end up selecting for the semester?  More on that in my next post.

HGSE Reflections

Now that the semester has ended, I’ve started to take some time to reflect on my HGSE experience thus far.  While I will continue to chronicle life as a student next semester, I wanted to share a few insights now that finals and papers are all done.

If I had to describe some of the highlights of my experience this fall, I would separate them into three categories:

Engaging in meaningful conversations with people passionate about education. While there are many people I look forward to meeting here in the Spring, I can honestly say I’ve already had a great number of conversations with students, alumni, faculty and administrators on a variety of topics in education.   What strikes me about having these conversations here at HGSE is the sincere willingness and interest among so many people to openly discuss news stories, innovative ideas or personal experiences in education – even outside of classroom discussions. Through these conversations, my HGSE experience has already been enriched in ways I did not imagine prior to the Fall.

Involvement with events on-campus.   HGSE students quickly realize the vast number of events on campus – not only at HGSE but across the university.  As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life.  Not only have I enjoyed the events I have attended (Harvard’s 375th anniversary receptions, Howard Gardner Askwith Forum and Student-Alumni Mentoring Initiative events to name a few), but the turnout at so many events has been tremendous.  Students here love to get involved and take advantage of opportunities available to them on campus.  It’s nice to enjoy different events on campus but even better to meet fellow students who share similar interests at these events.

Discovering the experiences and ambitions of HGSE students.  As much as I love telling stories, I enjoy hearing stories as well – especially HGSE stories. Getting to know HGSE students has convinced me there’s not one path to success and everyone really does have a story.  Learning about the variety of personal and professional motivations for attending HGSE has been cool.  Hearing plans of what students hope to accomplish and their ambitions for life after graduation has been amazing.  From those who hope to start their own charter schools or education-related ventures to others who aspire to assume leadership positions in established organizations domestically or abroad, students are confident in their ability to make a difference and transform education for the next generation.

As I reflect on everything that has transpired at HGSE so far, I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for next semester.  One semester down, one to go…

SAMI

As much as I enjoy new adventures and discovering the unknown, there’s great benefit to learning from those who’ve been there before.  So when I discovered the Student Alumni Mentoring Initiative, I eagerly submitted my application to participate.  SAMI has been incredible thus far and been a valued part of my HGSE experience.

Students selected for SAMI are matched with a HGSE alumni mentor.  My match shares an interest and work experience in higher education and has been a tremendous resource.  SAMI coordinates events in the Fall and Spring for mentors and mentees to get together and each match is encouraged to interact outside of SAMI events.  While I researched and discovered the student organizations and events I wanted to be involved with on-campus, I also wanted to make the most of my time here and asked my mentor for ideas on courses and individuals to speak with given my academic and professional interests.  And, let me tell you, she has provided excellent ideas.  There are a few Spring courses I am strongly considering based on my mentor’s insights.

Beyond that, as a Cambridge and Boston newbie, I wanted the scoop on areas around town to check out – you know, places to go, things to do.  Just in Cambridge alone, I’ve stumbled on different festivals with great food and live entertainment.  I haven’t made it to all the squares yet (Davis and Porter to name a few) but they are certainly on my short list of areas to check out before I leave town.  I’m glad I have a mentor as I continue my HGSE experience.

Game Time

Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a sports fan.  There’s just something about watching a game of basketball that’s entertaining.  I’ve been hearing great things about the Harvard basketball team this year, so I figured I would check them out.  I found a home game at the historic Lavietes Pavilion against Seattle University and figured it was time to see firsthand the atmosphere and environment of college basketball at Harvard.

A good crowd was on hand and the seats provided a clear view of the court.  It was great to see a mixture of people in the stands – students and other basketball fans scattered throughout the pavilion.   The band was playing and music blaring during warmups and right before the start of the second half. You could feel that the game would be fun to watch while looking forward to some spectacular highlights.

Fans cheered as Harvard put on quite a show.  They maintained a comfortable lead throughout most of the game and displayed great versatility and quickness.  I had a blast and will be back for more games later this year.  This will definitely be a fun team to watch all season.