Author Archives: pamliu16

New Students, Consider MassHealth

Dear Incoming Student,

Want to save almost $2500? Consider waiving the Harvard Student Health Insurance plan and applying for MassHealth. I found out about this option a little late, and therefore had to pay a late fee to waive the Harvard insurance, but it was still well worth it.

If you’re not on any other health insurance, and if your income throughout the school year is at or below 133% the Federal Poverty Line, then you are eligible. For your reference, income at 133% FPL for a single individual is about $315 per week. As a student working a graduate level job on campus at an average rate ($10-15 per hr, around 15-20 hours per week), your weekly income will likely qualify you for MassHealth insurance. Check out this table for income level guidelines.

The approval process takes a couple weeks and you will to submit proof of residency (such as a lease agreement) and a paystub. Once you get your MassHealth card, the health benefits available to you are amazing!

Now that the school year is winding down, I finally have had time to take advantage of the health insurance benefits of my MassHealth plan. This includes free doctors exams, eye exams (and a free pair of glasses), dental appointments (and wisdom teeth extraction if you need it), as well as money back for gym memberships and other health purchases.

Don’t wait to apply for MassHealth, and most importantly, don’t wait to take care of your health before it is too late!! My advice to students is to put health as a top priority, and schedule preventative exams and appointments at the beginning of the school year rather than waiting until the end.

Cheers to health!

Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.



Don’t Abandon Teaching

I remember at the beginning of the school year I sat in a room full of my future classmates at the HGSE Students of Color Orientation, and I asked the following question: “How many of you were classroom teachers prior to coming to HGSE?” About 75% of the hands went up. Then I followed up with, “How many of you plan on returning to the classroom after graduating from HGSE?” I looked around the room. Most hands were now down.

As someone who has always planned on returning back to the K-12 classroom, I was suddenly unsure. Why were all my peers planning to abandon their roles as teachers? Was there perhaps a path that was better?

So throughout the first semester I explored the world of education. I took classes at the law school, at the school of public health. I took classes at HGSE in college student affairs and higher education admissions policy. I loved them all. In fact, I was even convinced that I, too, may decide to pursue a career outside K-12 teaching that I originally was so passionate about. Perhaps there was something better for me. But I had come to HGSE with a purpose–to better myself as a teacher, and to help instill change in our K-12 educational system today by working from inside the classroom.

Everything changed for me during second semester. Per the recommendation of my advisor, I sat in on Kitty Boles‘ pitch for her course, T-131 Teachers, Leadership, and Power: School Reform from the Classroom, and my uncertainty about the future immediately disappeared. Kitty, a passionate teacher for over 30 years, gave me that sense of hope and push to return to the classroom. It was then that I understood the transformative power that the right course could inspire. The future of the teaching profession rests with us as teachers.

As teachers, we must advocate for ourselves and the teaching profession. So my plea to all HGSE students, current and future, is this: if you are a teacher (or are thinking about being a teacher), take the opportunity to explore every avenue that HGSE has to offer, but don’t forget what brought you here.  Stay grounded in your passion for educational transformation and learn all you can so you bring change back to the classroom. We must be the change we wish to see! The rest of us teachers and the entire teaching profession needs YOU!

Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.

An Unforgettable View

To most people, this photo might possibly be the least memorable image of all time.


This is it: The most unforgettable view

But to me it represents a view all too familiar and all too important in shaping my experience this year at HGSE.


This is the view from my student job at the Harvard College Admissions and Financial Aid office.

Because of this job I can enjoy a few extra ($) beers over the weekend. More significantly though–it is this job that connected me with other students to enjoy those beers with.


Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.


Delicious a High School Cafe?

Today I had the privilege of dining at the Falcon’s Nest, a student-run cafe in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), and it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve had here to date!


Students running the Falcon’s Nest cafe!

CRLS is a public high school just a stone’s throw away from Harvard Yard where I was substitute teaching for the date. (Tip: For anyone interested in working in K-12 schools, get familiar with the local school system by applying to be a substitute teacher!)

It was my first day visiting CRLS, though I have had numerous positive interactions with the students through a few of my classes at HGSE where they have served as class participants and guest speakers.

Anyways, back to the food. During my lunch break today, one of the other substitutes in the building suggested that I try the Falcon’s Nest for lunch. He said the food was very good and it was cheap. I was hesitant to even step foot into any type of school food establishment but when you’re a grad student on a budget, anything with the words “cheap” and “good” is worth a try.


Students running the Falcon’s Nest cafe!

Now, let me be clear that Falcon’s Nest is NOT the school’s cafeteria. It is a small cafe run separately by the high school’s culinary arts students. Upon walking into the cafe I was immediately greeted by smiling teenagers dressed in their chef’s uniforms. Behind each serving station was a student eager to serve and proud of the food.




There were sandwiches, salads, soups, grilled meats, veggies, chicken saute, and even a dessert bar with cakes and other sweet treats! I settled on a warm kielbasa soup with kale and potatoes–and it was AMAZING.

The best part of the whole experience was the cheerful students. I’ve always loved the idea of student workers in high schools. Giving students the ownership of such an important school facility is invaluable experience which provides life-shaping leadership and growth. These students were respectful, professional, cheerful, and so proud of their work and food service to the CRLS community. It was truly a 5-star dining experience.


Students running the Falcon’s Nest cafe!

I can’t wait for my next meal at the Falcon’s Nest!

Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.

Eliminating Nameless Faces: Meet Dinesh


Here, Dinesh is seen flipping through the directory to learn your name. Go ahead, say hi, and introduce yourself!

Meet Dinesh–the man that is the face of HGSE.

You’ve seen him, sitting at the front of Gutman, always welcoming and always offering a friendly hello.

In the 10 years that he has worked at HGSE, Dinesh has seen thousands of students filter in and out through the front doors at the main entrance. He was born and raised in Nepal, but has fallen in love with the HGSE community.

One day, I caught him looking at a binder with the faces of HGSE students. He said he was trying to match names to faces.

This got me thinking- how many of us have taken the time to introduce ourselves to a man that we literally see every day?

How many nameless faces exist in our lives? There are so many individuals in our daily interactions that we see, smile at, and even laugh with on a regular basis. Bus drivers, store clerks, restaurant employees, the list goes on. But how many times do we pause to ask for a name

The simple action of calling someone by their name adds such a profound layer of personal connection to our community relationships. Stronger, more connected communities are the first step to living up to our HGSE motto of “learning to change the world.”

So I challenge you to take action now!  Ask for and learn the name of a community member that you currently only know by face. Let’s eradicate all the nameless faces in our lives.

Oh, and remember to say hi to Dinesh next time you see him at Gutman!


Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.


“You’re taking Ergonomics??”

People are often surprised when I tell them I’m taking a class called Ergonomics. “Is it part of the curriculum?”, they ask. “Yes”, I reply, “It is part of my curriculum.” 

Learning about ergonomic desks for the classroom!

Learning about ergonomic desks for the classroom!

How? How is Ergonomics a part of the curriculum in a school of Education?

The answer is simple, and is the very reason I applied to come to HGSE in the first place.

The Ed.M Special Studies program. On this track, I design my own curriculum. I pick the courses that I decide will best suit my needs and interests.

If it sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it IS indeed 100% a real track! But I am still in awe everyday at how lucky I am to be part of such a flexible and personally-tailored Master’s program. It is truly the perfect fit for me.

I chose to take Ergonomics (a course offered by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) to gain insight into K-12 classroom design for optimal student working conditions. The curriculum I proposed in my personal statement involved a combination of Math Pedagogy and Health Awareness. However, this may change as I discover new interests inspired by classmates and courses. That is the beauty in SSP–you are not “stuck” with the curriculum you initially planned.

Many of my cohort peers are also taking advantage of our unique Special Studies program by engaging in classrooms at Tufts, MIT, other Harvard schools, or independent study.

In the Special Studies program, you take control of what you study! Education is the intersection of many different fields, and there is no curriculum too crazy for consideration! If you are debating between a few different tracks at HGSE, I encourage you to apply to SSP. The cohort is full of individuals with unique stories and unique educational perspectives and goals.

There is no other program like it, and you will not regret joining the SSP crew here at HGSE! 🙂

Pam Liu is a beer-loving yogi who works as a high school math teacher and travels the world on the side. She’s currently a Master’s candidate in the Special Studies program.

Question: What do Harvard and Beer have in common?

Question: What do Harvard and Beer have in common?

Screenshot 2015-10-06 12.26.49 Continue reading

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