Author Archives: Jessica Perez

Carry On

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for the past half an hour.  Instead I’ve been texting and Facebook messaging with three HGSE people about working on finals, fun end-of-school-year events, and even updating each other on our love lives.

Earlier today I went to the local community college to work on a start-up project that I’m doing with HGSE and HKS (Harvard Kennedy School) friends.  Another HGSE friend connected us to some staff and faculty there so that we could do some observations and talk to students.  This friend also offered to help me apply to a job there, if I’m interested.  Once I came back to Harvard Square, I had dinner with one more HGSE friend and I then offered to connect him to someone at a college he might want to work at once we graduate.

In thinking about what HGSE means to me, I really only have to review today’s events.  I have incredible new people in my life, and I am eternally grateful for them.  They care about me personally, they care about helping me find a job, they care about helping me do my side projects.  And I feel the same about them—I want to help them grow and be happy and successful.  This is something that will continue once we leave and wherever we go.  There is so much I take away from this place, and I can’t even fathom trying to capture it all.  But if I can offer you just one glimpse into what HGSE means to me, it’s that I’ll be graduating with the most amazing group of people who I am honored to have as friends and colleagues today and for a long time to come.

Jessica Perez is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education program.  She is passionate about improving college access and completion for underrepresented student populations.

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Want to make the most out of HGSE? Consider an Internship.

When I decided to come to HGSE I chose it for the academic program, a peer group I knew I would learn a ton from, and the opportunity to get the perspective of a different part of the country.  I’ve gotten exactly what I was hoping for in that respect, but I’ve also gotten something else that I hadn’t realized I would: a fantastic internship experience.

I intern at MIT’s LBGT center, called the Rainbow Lounge, and I help create and put on programming for MIT’s LBGT and ally community.

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Shopping HGSE Style

Normally when I think of shopping, I have glorious visions of bargain hunting—I buy everything at 75% off and then come home and corner my roommates into oohing and aahing over each of my unbelievably awesome purchases.  This week though, shopping entailed something else.  Instead of a being at a mall, I was at school, attending various 40-minute introductions to HGSE courses—“shopping” them so that I could decide which classes to take this semester.

Now for someone like me, who revels in the magnificence of hunting down the best deals and showing them off, this isn’t actually all that different from what I’d first envisioned.  I got to look through all the courses offered, decide which ones I wanted to try on, and get a sense of how each course fit me before deciding which was ultimately right for me.  I explored lots of different courses, and though I had to narrow them down before the week was over, I got a peek into what the experience of each class would be like.  In some of my shopping periods I even took away little nuggets of info—bonus gifts just for trying out the class.  Then the best part: I got to talk to my fellow cohort members, while sitting in Gutman Commons, and shared with them what I’m taking and found out what they’re taking.  If I was lucky we’d picked some of the same courses and if not, then we promised to share what we’ve learned with each other.

In fact, shopping for our second semester is kind of a special time at HGSE.  We now know what being a student here is about, so it’s not new and scary anymore.  In fact, if there’s anything scary it’s that we know we’re halfway done and the magic is almost over.  For that reason I can’t help but take a moment to look around and feel like we are in a perfect moment.  We get to start again, have a clean slate, but be at home, be with friends, and know who we are here.  We get to think about what it is we want to do with the remainder of our time here and we get to hang out with friends and not worry about what paper we’ve got to complete next.  Well at least for a moment.  Because I’ve actually got my first paper due during week one.  Can you believe that?  But that’s the wonder of it all.  And why you have to step back and appreciate it.  Take a deep breath, smile, look around, and step right back into the thick of it.

Taking a break from shopping classes to explore Harvard.

Taking a break from shopping classes to explore Harvard.

Jessica Perez is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education program.  She is passionate about improving college access and completion for underrepresented student populations.

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Application Season

When I started looking at Master’s programs, I knew what I wanted to do with my career: help underrepresented students get to college and succeed there.  But translating that into a particular academic program, at Harvard or elsewhere—well, that’s not as straightforward.  After all, it’s not like the world of education is as neatly siloed as “Arts in Education,” “Education Policy and Management,” or “Prevention Science and Practice.”

But even though you’ve got to pick a program in the end, you aren’t limited to that specific programmatic space at HGSE.  I have a range of classes: from my program seminar with the Higher Ed cohort to a Statistics class with students from every program at HGSE.  So if you’ll be applying to HGSE, think hard about what you want to pursue, but don’t worry: you will have more opportunities than you can take advantage of to engage with topics outside of your specific program.

Study time in Gutman Library

Study time in Gutman Library

Jessica Perez is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education program.  She is passionate about improving college access and completion for underrepresented student populations.

New Experiences: Boston in the Fall

There’s a song in a kids’ show where the characters sing about all the things they haven’t yet done.  The chorus climaxes with the ultimate experience the characters are still missing; it goes: “And I’ve never been to Boston in the Fall!”

At the time I saw the show, I had no idea what was so special about Boston in the Fall.  But now I get it: Boston is absolutely stunning this time of year.  Watching the leaves change color every day is an experience to be relished.  I’m from California and I’m so glad I decided to go somewhere different for grad school.  Each week it seems, I am introduced to some new tradition or phenomenon that I’ve never experienced.

Just one example is the Head of the Charles Regatta, a rowing race that takes place on the Charles River which runs right through Harvard.  I’d never been to a regatta before, and I eagerly lined up along with other spectators to watch rowers competing amidst a beautiful landscape.  I met an old friend there, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day a New England Fall day.  Sadly, the days of Fall are almost gone, but I’m so glad I can now say: I have been to Boston in the Fall!

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Jessica Perez is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education program.  She is passionate about improving college access and completion for underrepresented student populations.