Author Archives: irtezabf

Grateful and Graduating

Since the last time I wrote, there has been a great deal of change. I now know what it is that I am doing next year. I came in to HGSE, not quite sure of which direction I was heading. But after the first semester, I knew that I wanted to pursue a doctorate in Education. With great apprehension, I applied to doctoral programs, and I am happy to announce that I will be heading to UPenn’s GSE in the fall for my doctorate. As I get ready to graduate in about a month, I realize how busy I have been the past 8 months. It has a whirlwind of activity, yet amidst it all, there are some incredible speakers and educators who will remain in my mind for a long time. I had the privilege of taking a Jterm class with Prof. Howard Gardner on “Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.” More recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Chancellor of NYC Public Schools, the famous Carmen Fariña and reflect on what a force of good she has been in her role. Finally, I had the chance to speak with Bryan Stevenson, NYU Law Professor, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Each of these individuals are warriors for justice, in their own respective fields. Whether a wildly famous academic, an illustrious Chancellor, or a nationally-renowned social justice activist, these individuals reminded me of the power of the humility. No matter how famous they are, they still make time to teach, mentor, and inspire students. I hope I can step into those roles in my future career.

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Ed School Students with Attorney Bryan Stevenson, Photo Credit: Maung Nyeu

Ed School Students with Attorney Bryan Stevenson, Photo Credit: Maung Nyeu

For now, I hope to move forward successfully towards graduation.

  1. I’ve ordered my Graduation Regalia
  2. I will be auditioning to sing for the HGSE Commencement ceremony
  3. Ordered my tickets for Family members to attend Harvard Graduation
  4. Found Housing for Family Members (they will stay with me)
  5. Started to plan for fun times with friends in two free weeks prior to graduation – I hope to make the most of the spring weather which is finally here!!
  6. Started saying goodbye to Boston and the Northeast
  7. Getting ready to leave the wonderful place that is HGSE

With sadness, love, gratitude, apprehension, and hope for the future, I sign off to you as one of your 2015 HGSE blogger. Best of luck to you next year!

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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Valuing the Promise of Diversity

Welcome, newly admitted students, to HGSE!  Some affectionately call this place Hug-see.  Others really hate that pronunciation and call it H-G-S-E.  Then there are students like myself who call it the Ed School.  Whatever name you decide to call this place, I really hope it will be your home for the next year!

For those admits reading this, come to the Ed School!  Hopefully your experience will be as joyous as mine has been so far! One reason I have had a great time at HGSE this year is due to the focus on diversity. Under the Dean’s theme of “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity,” students have really been grappling with what diversity means in all practices of our lives. Whether you are a teacher going back to the classroom, an administrator going into Higher Education, an educational technology innovator, or a future researcher, like myself, we must realize that America and the world is rapidly changing. White Americans will no longer be a majority by 2050, and Americans as a whole must learn to look forward to the future.

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The Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) Steering Committee worked hard this year to highlight the “The Other Narrative,” or stories that are marginalized in current discourse and narratives that are historically marginalized in society.  The AOCC was part of the real dialogue about diversity under the yearlong conversation about “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity.” Photo Courtesy of AOCC 2015 Records.

Diversity means truly understanding the value of different viewpoints. It means not just valuing diversity for tokenism’s sake but because it truly impacts how we think and interact with people different from us. Just because I am a Bangladeshi American Muslim doesn’t mean that I don’t have to know about the experiences of my Hispanic or African American friends. Race, while it may be a social construct, still has huge implications on how people of color are treated in this country, and it has a huge impact on how educational opportunities are offered. The conversation at the Ed School has only begun to grapple with issues educational diversity and access – I truly hope it continues next year and in the years to come.

We all have to engage in this conversation, whether we want to or not. Our society is changing, and we must change with it. We, as admits or soon to be graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Education must be at the forefront of understanding and leading these changes for a better, more equitable society that values diversity in reality, not just in rhetoric.

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

Welcome to HGSE, Admitted Students!

Welcome, newly admitted students, to HGSE!  Some affectionately call this place Hug-see.  Others really hate that pronunciation and call it H-G-S-E.  Then there are students like myself who call it the Ed School.  Whatever name you decide to call this place, I really hope it will be your home for the next year!

It is a wonderful feeling knowing that I have been at the Ed School for 6 months.  I cannot describe how much I learn every day.  While the time passes incredible quickly, there is a certain pleasure in knowing that one is taking full advantage of a place like Harvard.  It’s not just the classes, though they are great.  It’s the people, the speakers who come to campus, the self-reflection and growth that happens, and the moments of fun that I will remember most from HGSE.

Last Thursday, I participated in the HGSE phonathon.  It was really lovely welcoming new students to the Ed School – it felt like we were all part of one community, and I felt proud to be the first person that many admitted students spoke to about the Ed School !  Pay it forward, right?

For those admits reading this, come to the Ed School!  Hopefully your experience will be as joyous as mine has been so far!

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Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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HGSE’s Alumni of Color Conference 2015!

Despite the whirlwind that has been the past 2 months, I have continued to embrace the amazingness that HGSE is. Classes are incredible this semester, and extracurricular activities are equally as compelling. This past weekend, I had the pleasure to see the fruition of the Alumni of Color Conference. In it’s 13th year, the AOCC offers a space for communities of color and allies to address grave societal issues that continue to impact our education system. Whether it’s the school to prison pipeline, the repercussions of Ferguson on our young people, bullying, or a myriad of other issues, AOCC gives a space for these discussions to emerge in an academic and intellectually freeing format.

As a co-lead for the Youth Engagement Committee (see below), I had the pleasure of seeing the culmination of our Committee’s hard work from the last few months. We brought 80 young people to campus who spoke truth to power! They spoke about feelings of alienation in school, struggles with identity, reflections on Ferguson, and so much more! Their voice reminded me of the importance of listening – we are never too educated or knowledgeable to stop listening, especially from the voice of the youth we hope to work for. If we don’t listen, who will?

The AOCC Conference will remain one of my favorite memories from HGSE because it has been instrumental in my own self-realization as a woman of color who must move forward with a deeper commitment to social justice, in practice as well as in name.

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Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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Spring Semester?

With more than 6 feet of snow in some parts of Boston, spring doesn’t feel very “springy” to say the least.  As a person from Virginia, I am struggling with the cold and the massive amounts of snow.  But what I comfort myself with is the fact that I am living through a historic winter. This is the most snow Boston has experienced since 1978! But history is only little comfort amidst the mental fatigue that multiple blizzards inflict (purposeful word usage) on me.

Still, life goes on. Classes continue, with students and professors struggling to keep up with work through online forms of learning, snow make up days, and additional seminars. People slog, slush, salt, and schlep, but they make it somehow. It is actually quite remarkable how the weather brings us together. It makes me believe we will survive and persevere until we have a GLORIOUS spring!

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Bottom Picture: The Graveyard by the Ed School – the snow covered almost the entire height of the gate!

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

J-Term: A Time to Grow and Think

Winter break passed by in a flash, and I found myself back at HGSE over J-Term! What an incredibly interesting few weeks I had during these last two weeks!  Before this time, I wouldn’t have been able to tell my friends that I had the chance to personally have philosophical discussions about truth, beauty, and goodness with the famous Prof. Howard Gardner!  What an opportunity!

I truly enjoyed my J-term class (Prof. Karen Mapp’s “Effective Family School Partnerships”) as well as various J-term activities. As a student with various interests, I loved the opportunity to find out about different educational topics in a short amount of time. For example, despite my interest in education, I had never read Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Since reading it over J-term, I think about education in a different way.

As J-term is wrapping up, I am realizing how much I learned during this short period. Before J-term, I did not know what instructional design meant, or what the elements of design thinking were. I did know that there was an entire theoretical framework for negotiations, which I learned during a Negotiations weekend workshop. Neither did I know my strengths with video storytelling and my ease in front of the camera.

J-term allowed me the opportunity to learn about topics I did not have exposure to before, and may not get a chance to learn in my semester classes. It allowed me to learn about my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as giving me the chance to meet lots of cool HGSE students I hadn’t gotten to hang out with before!

For students considering HGSE next year, don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn and grow during J-term!

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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Regatta, Rain, and Reflections

Excitement to Reality:

You know when you first start something new, all you can think about is the excitement? And it’s still hard to believe that you have achieved or acquired that the new thing? You are in a constant state of joy because everything is so novel.   That’s how I felt about HGSE when I first arrived.  The first two months for me were a time to meet incredible people from all over the United States and the world, settle into classes, and tour Boston.  It was definitely part day-dream, part-wonder, and part-awe at the opportunity that lay before me.

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It is only in the last week or so that reality has set in.  Part of it is that the fall weather is slowly giving way to winter.  For a girl from Virginia via California, the Boston winter is my biggest fear this year.  Yes, I said it.  So the fact that it started to rain pretty regularly and that I have had to bust out my gloves is quite concerning for me.

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Welcome to the Diverse Community at HGSE!

It is difficult to figure out how to start blogging about the enormous experience that characterizes a master’s student’s life at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). It has only been two months since I have started at HGSE, but I feel like I have had the opportunity to fit a great deal of academic, extracurricular, and life events into such a short time.

There is the overwhelming fact that classes here are really awesome!  One can easily become overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of academic opportunities that exist here. AND that’s not it! There are so many extracurricular activities here too. Keeping in mind that I can’t do it all, I chose my classes so that I could balance both my academic and extracurricular interests.

Attending Diversity Dialogues and Candid Conversations through the Office of Student Affairs, going on school sponsored field trips to Cape Cod and Salem, learning about Boston through the Black Heritage Walking Tour, going camping with friends, watching the Regatta, and just exploring the Boston has been an experience in itself.

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