Author Archives: moniquedhall

Community Building with “The Bachelor”

As you might imagine, Harvard is a place filled with really intelligent and driven people. Most times I can feel my IQ increasing just from walking around campus and taking in bits of conversation as I go. I’m grateful for the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists in the people I get to interact with everyday—it’s a major reason why I chose to attend HGSE. Still, remembering that these very brilliant people are also just regular people, with regular-people interests, is such a comfort. I’m reminded this every Monday night, when a group of us Harvard students meet to watch The Bachelor.

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Being someone who has avoided the entire Bachelor franchise prior to this current season, I have to admit that when my friends Kathryn (HDP ‘17) and Manya (PSP ‘17) invited me to watch, I scoffed at the idea. Though, because they’d be watching the show in the TV room of our dorm, the Cronkhite Center, I figured there was no harm in moseying down to the basement for two hours of levity.

I was surprised to see a solid group of people in the room that first Monday night, and as the weeks progressed—and the number of roses being given lessened—our Bachelor-watching posse grew. Students from across the Harvard graduate schools were convening around our TV to see what Corinne said or did and make predictions about who Nick would and wouldn’t end up with. And I, who was at first a hostile viewer, found myself (gasp!) looking forward to these Monday night gatherings—partially for the show, which is both entertaining and ridiculous, but mostly for the community.

While this season and semester are drawing to a close, I realize that I’m really going to miss Monday night community-building with The Bachelor. On the bright side, however, the next season of The Bachelorette is right around the corner and I will almost certainly be watching.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

 

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Field Experience of Dreams

Is it too early to say that I love my Spring internship? Because it’s been all of one week since I’ve started my field experience position as an intern at WGBH and I am pretty much enamored.

As someone who aspires to create enjoyable educational media for children, the prospect of interning at WGBH was on my “List of Hopeful Grad School Experiences” before I even set foot on HGSE’s campus. WGBH is where so much of the educational programming I loved as a kid—like Arthur, ZOOM, and Between the Lions—was produced, so when I saw an opening for an intern in WGBH’s Digital Kids Production team, I immediately jumped at the chance.

In my first week, I’ve already had the opportunity to meet amazing people (including a few HGSE alums) who share my passion for media-based learning and I’ve been able to start some of the projects I’ll be working on over the length of my time at WGBH. I’m looking forward to a semester of learning about the overall digital production process and contributing to that process to make fun, high-quality media.

It’s been said that first impressions are lasting impressions and if my first week at WGBH is at all representative of the next 3.5 months, I think this internship will be a very meaningful part of my year at Harvard.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

 

Making Plans / Breaking Plans

Upon being accepted to HGSE, I set some lofty goals for making the absolute most of my year here. Being the natural-born planner that I am, I immediately put together a list of classes I wanted to take, clubs I wanted to join, and Boston-area organizations in which I wanted to intern. I had my whole master’s degree mapped out and needed only to execute the plan by staying on the path that I had laid out for myself. What could possibly go wrong?

(Hint: Everything.)

It didn’t take too long for all of my plans to be reduced to mere suggestions. All of the things that were a definite YES before I got to campus quickly became a definitely maybe once I arrived. And everything that had been a NO WAY turned into a hmmm, why not? I recognized very early on that not leaving room in my schedule for exploration, experimentation, and general serendipity would’ve been a huge mistake. Looking back on my Fall semester, I can honestly say that the courses and experiences that I hadn’t planned for ended up being among the most meaningful.

So, with my second and final semester at Harvard on the horizon, I will plan how I want Spring 2017 to look (because, again, that’s who I am), but, this time, with the expectation that those plans can and should be broken.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

“It’s Kinda Like Being a Freshman and a Senior All At Once”

It’s true: The end of Fall semester is practically upon us.

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The past four-ish months have come and gone in a literal whirlwind of activity—filled with classes, interning, paper-writing, group meetings, problem sets, happy hours, film screenings, Askwith Forums, peace circles, chill sessions, #WaffleFridays, and everything in between—and I couldn’t be happier with all that I’ve gotten to learn and experience thus far. I feel like I’ve done so much. Though, as I stand here on the horizon of the second and final half of my time at HGSE, I can’t help but realize how dizzying of a pace things are going; I feel as though I’m on a speeding train toward our May graduation day, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Not long after I was admitted to HGSE, I remember asking a recent Ed.M. alumna if she felt that 9 months had been enough time for her to be at Harvard and her response – “yes and no” – left me completely baffled. How could the master’s program be simultaneously too long and too short? Now, nearing the midpoint of my time here, I get it. It’s so peculiar: I feel like I just got here, but I also recognize that I’ll soon need to start applying for jobs and planning for the next phase of my life.

Having spoken with friends about this, many of them echoed these sentiments, which was quite the relief. Like me, they’re looking forward to getting back out into the workforce in a few months, but wish they could spend more time taking advantage of all the opportunities Harvard has to offer. As one friend eloquently put it, in this one academic year we’re going from freshmen to seniors. How odd. How wonderful.  

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

My Diversity Recruitment Program Experience

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of being part of the festivities surrounding HGSE’s Diversity Recruitment Program (DRP). Over the two days of DRP, prospective applicants from all over and with diverse backgrounds visit Appian Way for the weekend to learn more about their programs of interest, interact with professors and current students, and start to wrap their heads around the many details involved in applying to HGSE.

On Friday, I participated in DRP as a student attendee at the HGSE Community Reception. While there, I and other students got to meet the ones whose shoes we were in last year to talk (informally and over food) about our memories of the admissions process and our experiences at HGSE thus far. It was really fun to share my story and especially meaningful to me to help ease the minds of amazing individuals who may have felt that they didn’t fit the mold of what a “Harvard” student should be.

In addition to the reception, I had been asked to lead a session on Saturday to help applicants brainstorm about their Statements of Purpose and to provide some insight into my own writing process. This would require me to allow a room full of prospective applicants to read copies of the very Statement that I had submitted to the Office of Admissions one year prior (they, for one reason or another, seemed to not think it was horrible). My personal goal for the year is to say “yes” more, so I agreed, but not without a fair amount of anxiety.

You see, I had been extremely secretive about and protective of my application to HGSE. The only people who knew about my decision to apply were the individuals who wrote my letters of recommendation; my own family had no idea I had even been considering Harvard until the day I received my acceptance letter. To say that they were pleasantly surprised when they heard the news is an understatement. I allowed exactly zero people to view my Statement of Purpose before I submitted it way too close to the deadline—about two minutes before 11:59pm—and hoped for the best.

The thought of having prospective students read and potentially critique my Statement, which no other eyes had ever seen, was utterly daunting, but my desire to help out and pay it forward outweighed my fear. When the time came for my session to begin and the copies of my Statement were handed out, I felt strangely calm. Ultimately, everything went well and the session turned out to be a great ending to DRP. Some of the attendees even stayed afterward to thank me for sharing my Statement and said they felt less nervous about writing their own, which was so relieving to hear.

I’m extremely grateful to have been able to contribute to making DRP the wonderful weekend it was and I hope that the many prospective applicants I met will have the opportunity to join the HGSE family. 

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

HGSE Admission “Don’ts”

With graduate school applications looming and deadlines fast approaching, you’re probably seeking advice on what you can do to better your chances of getting into the master’s or doctoral program of your dreams. That’s all well and good, but knowing what not to do is just as important, so I’ve compiled a very short list of “don’ts” for the application process that should help it go a bit more smoothly and feel at least moderately less stressful:

  • Don’t count yourself out.
    Don’t think for one second that a particular school’s name or reputation will automatically disqualify you from the running. Whether you have twenty years of experience in education or zero, you—yes, you—have a very real shot of being admitted to an institution like HGSE, so apply!
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to contact recommenders or write your Statement of Purpose.
    When it comes to asking for letters of recommendation, there is no such thing as starting too early. If you haven’t already, begin reaching out to individuals (former professors, supervisors, etc.) who you feel can make a strong case on your behalf. As for your Statement of Purpose: write, write, write! Don’t sit around waiting for the perfect anecdotal introductory sentence to magically pop into your head because you may end up waiting for a long, long time. Get some words on the page first, then focus on making those words coherent and beautiful later.
  • Don’t forget why you want to come here!
    Make your reasoning for wanting to pursue graduate study at HGSE crystal clear. Let the passion you have for education spill out of every facet of your application and present your story in a way that only you can.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

The Goodness of a Getaway

This weekend, I ventured out of the Cambridge/Boston area for the first time since I arrived at HGSE for a little weekend getaway. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my first month and a half of graduate school and if it’s at all indicative of the rest of my time here, it’s safe to say that this will be an exciting, busy, edifying, demanding, inspiring, and memorable year. Still, when you’re drinking from the fire hose that is Harvard, with its amazing events and opportunities galore, it can sometimes make you nostalgic for the days when you could sip water slowly and without getting your clothes all wet.

That is why some friends and I decided to take a little trip up to New Hampshire where we slowed down, re-centered on what’s most important, and took in views of the famously beautiful New England Fall foliage. New Hampshire certainly did not disappoint:

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Now that I’m back in Cambridge, I feel refreshed and ready to take advantage of the Harvard experience as much as humanly possible.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.