Category Archives: Extracurriculars


One of the reasons I was so excited to join the Technology, Innovation and Education (TIE) cohort at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) was the opportunity to “innovate” – whatever that meant. I arrived on campus from a profession where uniformity and standards are, understandably, of the utmost importance in order to make sure every patient receives the standard of care. As a medical student, solving a problem through divergent thinking was a new prospect for me, one that made me light-up with childish glee when I found out that I could try out this “innovation” thing in education through the Harvard Innovation and Ventures in Education (HIVE) group.

I joined HIVE and got involved as a Hackathon Tri-chair. My partners and I drew from prior Hackathon events that had given students opportunities to congregate with like-minded individuals and dream up solutions never seen or done before. We wanted to curate an experience in-line with why most of us had chosen to come to HGSE in the first place; to “Learn to Change the World”.

A poster announcement and several emails later, we were ready to launch the first of a 3-day event. A few moments after introducing the event, my Tri-chair partner took the stage to help facilitate a co-mingling experience for our student innovators. She was like a Chemist, working the room like a beaker, and her mic, a Bunsen burner – catalyzing reactions hopefully leading to magical ideating moments for all our participants.


I had to do a bit of innovating myself during the session. A few students were getting lost and having trouble finding their way around. So I drew a live on-screen map to help them navigate through the activity. All our work paid off. On the final day of the Hackathon, our incredible innovators came together to try to convince two judges that their ideas for helping educators in resource-limited countries, helping students with test anxiety, or using an app to connect strangers in different parts of the world through a multi-media pen-pal experience, had promise.

I walked home that night exhausted, but satisfied. Our team had created a safe space for the participants to express their creativity and have fun while solving a diverse set of education issues. I’m definitely planning to take the underlying ideas behind Hackathons and innovation with me to clinics, hospitals, classroom, group projects, and my own personal life.

Dream on, innovators.

Blog post written by Joshua Onyango; photos provided by Joshua Onyango

Josh Onyango headshotBorn in Arusha, Tanzania, Josh has spent most of his life in the mid-west and southern US. He studied Biomedical Science in college and went to medical school in North Carolina. He’s still a medical student there, but decided to take a year to learn more about the role of technology in educating patients and training young physicians through the TIE program at HGSE. Outside of school he enjoys playing video games, basketball, and pondering the meaning of life.


Raising Our Voices

Sitting around the dining room table, we were trying to figure out how many items to include in our scavenger hunt. We wracked our brains together as the aroma of chicken vegetable stew and steamed rice filled the room. The food soothed our hunger, but couldn’t quite do the same for our heartaches that had followed the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and Irma in Florida, Texas, and the Caribbean. The pain was an ache that only seemed to get better with movement. So we put our hands to task and came together to plan a scavenger hunt to raise money for those affected by these storms.

Not a few weeks went by before an earthquake, monsoon and two more horrific hurricanes struck Mexico, SE Asia, Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean. As Fall fell upon us, clouds hung overhead and cast shadows on our hearts. The damage was unprecedented; the campus-wide heartache was palpable. We drew warmth and comfort from each other as we drew closer together to support HGSE students with families affected by these devastating storms.

Our scavenger hunt team decided to join forces with a few other students who had families they still hadn’t heard from yet, particularly in Puerto Rico and Mexico as phone lines remained down for several days after the earthquake and hurricane, respectively. We altered our plans and opted to do a Benefit Concert instead, to create a space for students to raise their voices to “weep with those that wept” and find renewed hope with each other. The result was breathtaking. Some roared, others whispered – but either way the concert gave utterance to the pains yet unspoken and dared us to hope and believe in better days to come for all those affected.

It was such an honor to have had the opportunity to work with my deeply passionate and caring colleagues to bring together the Harvard community, and the broader Cambridge and Boston community as well, to support each other through that difficult time.

Unfortunately, many individuals are still reeling from the after-effects of these natural disasters. Please continue to show your support for them through the following organizations:

  • Help rebuild Mexico (click here to donate). Proceeds will be channeled to organizations that will support reconstruction efforts in affected communities.
  • Help rebuild Puerto Rico. You can support them through the conPRmetidos Relief Fund

Blog and photos by Joshua Onyango

Josh Onyango headshotJoshua Onyango

Born in Arusha, Tanzania, Josh has spent most of his life in the mid-west and southern US. He studied Biomedical Science in college and went to medical school in North Carolina. He’s still a medical student there, but decided to take a year to learn more about the role of technology in educating patients and training young physicians through the TIE program at HGSE. Outside of school he enjoys playing video games, basketball, and pondering the meaning of life.

The 16th Annual Alumni of Color Conference

The Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) is home to me.  I call it home because after attending and presenting at this conference for the last two consecutive years, it propelled me to apply and join the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) family to further my impact as a Filipinx-American Educator, Poet, and Entrepreneur.


AOCC is a convening of leaders of color and allies from all around the nation, both from HGSE and beyond. We gather for three days and share best practices in cutting edge research and social justice work focused on strengthening the diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies essential to all educational spaces that impact communities of color.  In the past we’ve brought in the likes of Tina Tchen (Golden Globe Award-Winning Chinese-American Actress), Alejandra Y Castillo (National Director of Minority Business Development Agency), Dr. Christopher Emdin (Author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood….and the Rest of Y’all Too), Brandon Marshall (NFL Linebacker), Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams (Historian and Professor at Vanderbilt University) and more.

1 - Dr. Christopher Emdin

Dr. Christopher Emdin


For both years, I had the opportunity to co-lead two sessions with my colleague Emmanuel Oppong-Yeboah (current HGSE student) entitled “Empowering Youth Voice through the Art of Spoken Word” and “Exploring Identity and Intersectionality through Poetry.” Through these sessions, we were able to share our expertise in facilitating culturally responsive and identity-rooted pedagogy with youth and practitioners in the field of arts education. Through this conference I was able to radically imagine myself into a position of collective power in solidarity.

2 - Boston Pulse Poetry

Boston Pulse Poetry, AOCC 2016


After getting my acceptance letter into HGSE, I knew I had to give back to AOCC. So I naturally applied to lead the conference as one of the Tri-Chairs. Our role is to design the vision and trajectory of a conference that pulls in 700 – 1000 participants. We also manage the steering committee to co-develop and co-execute the vision.  After much deliberation with my fellow Tri-Chairs (Jen Kuang and Avriel Epps), we’ve solidified our vision to the following:

“Radicalize, Reimagine, and Reconstruct: Grappling with antiquated systems and designing alternatives to capitalism, systemic oppression, and monolithic identities.”

3 - AOCC

Chapter one of this vision is rooted in the term “Radical.” We chose this word because we recognize the need for a vision that dismantles the status quo.  When we think of the term “radical,” the word “change” automatically comes to mind. In a reductionist era of Trump, radical change and coalition building are elemental to us surviving and thriving as leaders of color in white dominant spaces.  Chapter two is entitled “Reimagine,” inspired by our nation’s desperate need for “radical imagination.” Radical imagination is ability to reimagine the world, life, and social institutions not as they are but as they could and should be.  Our final chapter of this conference dives into “Reconstruction.” The idea to recreate and rebuild is the perfect coalescence after defining and rethinking how to approach these antiquated systems of oppression.


I’m honored to have the ability to pay respects to my ancestors and work in solidarity with fellow students of color by bringing this conference to life in its 16th year. Through this work, I’ve been able to acquire incredibly talented, humble, and supportive family members and mentors. Among them are Tracie Jones (Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programming), Estefania Rodriguez (former AOCC Steering Committee Lead and Ethnic Studies Teaching Fellow), and Professor Christina “V” Villarreal (Professor of Ethnic Studies). These three leaders exemplify the type of leadership I want to embody and exude as I manage the Youth Empowerment, Communications, External Engagement, and Publicity committees.

4 - mentors


Beyond networking, part of my personal vision for AOCC this year is to co-empower youth to work alongside our steering committee.  In order for this to happen, we created the inaugural “AOCC Youth Leaders Fellowship,” which will recruit two Boston High School youth leaders to co-design, co-host, and co-execute various aspects of this conference. In doing this, I invoke philosopher and educator, Paolo Freire, and his concept of perceiving students as experts to their lived experiences.  We can learn so much from our youth experts, if only we give up our power and entrust it to them. Creating this fellowship was but another way of giving back and paying forward. It grounds me in why I was drawn to HGSE in the first place, and reminds me how I would not be here without my students.

*The AOCC Call for Proposals has just launched. If you would like to present on research, curate a panel, and/or have a workshop idea to facilitate, please visit the AOCC website!*

Written by Tony DelaRosa, photos provided by Tony DelaRosa

Tony headshotTony DelaRosa is California by chance and Cambridge by choice. He’s a Filipinx-American Educator, Writer, Entrepreneur, and Poet. He cofounded two city-wide spoken word youth organizations: Indy Pulse (Indianapolis) and Boston Pulse Poetry (Greater Boston). At HGSE, he is a current student in the Arts in Education program. He serves as a Co-Chair of the Pan-Asian Coalition for Education, Communications Fellow for the Voice Program, and Tri-Chair for the Alumni of Color Conference. Find out more by visiting: CNN, The Hechinger Report, and NPR.


The opportunities are endless!

I’m learning that the opportunities to engage with course material in innovative ways are endless at HGSE. I’ve been especially impressed with how possible—and encouraged—it is to tailor-make opportunities for myself. The faculty and staff are intent on cultivating students’ individual passions and supporting them in diverse ways; academically, emotionally, and even financially. I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference funded by the Student Conference Fund. Here’s the story, in three chapters. 


An Everyone Culture

Chapter 1: April 2016

As the Director of Team and Operations at a start-up non-profit in Toronto, I read Kegan and Lahey’s An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization to learn more about encouraging adult development within our team. An Everyone Culture is based on the theory that in most workplaces, people are spending valuable time and energy hiding their weaknesses. This is not only inefficient but also discouraging; it’s impossible to strengthen weaknesses if they’re hidden. The book detailed several companies that made a major commitment to integrating principles of adult development into their internal operating system. I was hooked; in college I had learned about the stages of child development, but reading An Everyone Culture was my first introduction to the phases of adult development. My fascination with adult developmental stages solidified my desire to apply to graduate school programs and served as motivation to apply to the Human Development and Psychology program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Chapter 2: September 2017

At the beginning of my first semester at HGSE, I learned that there would be a Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO) conference in Boston in the coming months! Soon after I also discovered that HGSE students can apply to the Student Conference Fund to cover the registration cost at conferences related to their area of study. It was the perfect storm of opportunity! The DDO Conference was designed to serve as a live epilogue to the book; it would include update presentations from the companies featured in An Everyone Culture and the authors would facilitate discussions and reflections about how to create an “everyone culture” in any workplace.

Chapter 3: November 2017

In late October, I attended the DDO Conference in Boston. Walking into a room full of people who shared my interests was exhilarating, intimidating, and validating. I met all types of people: professors, CEOs, coaches, and one-person consulting firms. Everyone shared my passion for learning about people and encouraging them to be the best version of themselves in the workplace. I was grateful for, and impressed by, the authenticity in the room. The companies were transparent about the challenges they were experiencing as they integrated principles of adult development into their structures and the participants genuinely engaged with the discussions, including sharing vulnerabilities and areas for growth.

DDO conference

Author and former HGSE professor Robert Kegan making closing remarks at the conference

I am grateful to the Student Conference Fund and continue to be impressed with the individualized learning experiences that each student can create at HGSE!

Written by Cecelia DeKorne


Cecelia DeKorne is an Ed.M. candidate in the Human Development and Psychology program and is interested in how adult development principles can be used to improve organizational culture. Cecelia is loving her year at HGSE and has tried every type of cookie at The Commons! 

Cecelia is a Graduate Assistant at the HGSE Admissions office and will be posting throughout the 2017-2018 school year. 





Further Up and Further In

“What do you think?”

I’m sitting in a room with two researchers who are silently studying my first attempt at organizing data gathered from thirty-six schools they work with. After looking at the spreadsheet projected on the wall for a few moments, they turned and asked to hear my thoughts.

I had barely known what qualitative research was two weeks ago, and now, that’s exactly what I’m doing for two of the top researchers in the constructivist learning field. For my internship at Project Zero, I get to sit in a room with Jessica Ross and Dr. Edward Clapp, the people that literally wrote the book on Maker-Centered learning, and be trained in how to analyze data that will eventually help teachers better assess project-based learning experiences. I came into this with no research experience, but they are teaching me. I’m starting to recognize patterns, understand the ideas, and see data like they do. My thinking gets pushed every time I meet with them.

I’m not running to get them coffee, organizing files, or shining their shoes (yet). Quite the opposite–I’m doing real work as part of a team brought together by the shared pursuit of student agency. I get to be part of this weighty and purposeful work, not because I have anything especially interesting to say, but because Edward and Jessica value everyone’s ability to think and offer a different perspective.

This is the way things are here. You are surrounded by incredible thinkers, authors, and teachers that are dedicated to transforming education and making sure students leave equipped and empowered to make that happen. In this culture of investment, professors want their ceiling to be your floor, for you to be able to use their work and knowledge to create change in your own way. They take the time to share what they know and create opportunities for you to learn not just from them, but alongside them.

Over breakfast one day, I got to hear James Kim share his passion for being a mentor, not just a professor. Joe McIntyre consistently works in the library just so he is available for students. Monica Higgins hosts lunches to get to know her class better. Howard Gardner explained the research project he’s working in the buffet line. Rick Weissbourd makes time to laboriously break down answers to the ridiculously broad questions I throw at him. The generosity here is astounding. It’s like you’re surrounded by more relational and less cryptic Dumbledores. These professors don’t just share their learning, but work to develop us as thinkers and practitioners. It’s this apprenticeship that makes the community feel more like a family than a school.

An equally valuable part of this experience are the other students you’re here with. I am consistently blown away by the quality and experience of the people I’m surrounded by. Everyone is ready to learn, excited to talk, and not afraid to ask the hard questions or to be viewed as too serious. Conversations with peers over coffee have led to some of my best learning here. At HGSE, because you’re on a team united by common purpose, there is an ethos of camaraderie with people you haven’t even met, which makes it easy to build relationships and have conversations. It isn’t hard to find people that are excited about the same things as you are. As a former teacher, I didn’t always feel I had the space to have the meaningful conversations about education. Now, I’m surrounded by people that are ready to talk about the things I care about, but are also ready to push and deepen my thinking.

This has already proven to be a special time and space to develop the knowledge, habits of thinking, and understanding that I’ll pull from for the rest of my life to better my work. But it’s the people make this place. It’s the community that pulls you into something greater; something, in the words of the unicorn from C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, “Further up and further in.”

View More: by Brendan Fereday

Brendan Fereday is a former elementary school teacher now in the Human Development and Psychology master’s program and a research assistant at Project Zero. He is currently investigating organizational change, school reform, moral development, and fostering learner agency through making things. He now likes qualitative research.


“Adulting” at HGSE

It’s 10 pm on a Tuesday night, and I’m standing close to the stage, eagerly awaiting Aquilo, one of my favorite bands for the past couple years now, to begin their act. I have two midterms and one major problem set all due in less than a week, but I push it out of my mind for the moment, knowing that the time for studies will come later. There’s so much more to Harvard than just academics, and The Sinclair, a venue less than a three-minute walk from the HGSE campus, has become part of my Harvard tradition.

Looking back at the past four months (having arrived in Cambridge back in June to begin a lab position), I’m struck by just how much like a kid I feel at heart, which is probably why I’m drawn to Education in the first place. There’s something strangely odd after being an adult in the “real world” for the last three years about throwing on a backpack every morning, heading to class, and pulling out my Curious George pencil case to retrieve my rainbow highlighters and sticky notes.

There’s something else, too, about having been in the “real world” that has changed the way I feel about academics now that I’m back in school again. Class now feels like a privilege, not like the duty that it once felt back in college. Choosing to come back to school – choosing to come to HGSE – has reinvigorated a sense of curiosity and wonder that I thought I had lost while working full-time. I’m enjoying life at HGSE so much that it feels more like a playground than a stereotypical school (which all education should be like, right?).

I’m finding myself engaging with academics in a new manner that is allowing me to truly understand my purpose in embarking on such a pedagogical journey. The material we learn in class feels tangibly animated. We’re not just learning concepts; we’re being challenged to engage our imaginations to envision using such theories in applied settings to truly incite meaningful change. Meetings with professors are not just matters of administrative duty but are brainstorming sessions that leave you inspired and empowered to apply yourself as a global solution. Homework assignments involve creating interventions that actually will be brought into the classroom. For me, academics have moved from a realm of duty to the sphere of energizing possibilities that makes me look forward to heading to the library every night.

And the motivation to practice my new skills has given me time and space to rediscover another “childlike” quality I thought I had lost – the desire to try everything. I do feel like a kid during my weekly Capoeira lessons – messing up my lefts and rights, struggling to remember the Portuguese vocabulary, singing with the rest of my class during roda. I’ve gone to my first professional soccer game, my first river cruise, and even my first PsyD campus visit. Last week, I even tried my first truly authentic, mouth-watering Chinese dinner, cooked from scratch by a friend’s mom, which necessitated a translator to keep the conversation flow over the meal. Long story short – there are a lot of firsts here at Harvard, inside and outside of the academic sphere.

If you do decide to come study at HGSE, which I hope you do, my best advice to you is embrace a childlike mindset; come here “tabula rasa” – ready to open your mind to all of the academic and non-academic opportunities that the university has to offer. Go to that weeknight concert. Sign for every listserv possible and actually go to the events. Say “yes” to joining that club, even if you don’t yet know how to properly say it’s name (like Capoeira = cap-o-ey-ra). HGSE will “grow you up” – a lot – in ways you never expected possible. Opening yourself up to such change through embracing a mindset of curiosity, wonder, and an interminable desire to try everything will help you cultivate a healthy sense of humility for such learning. In order to learn how to change the world, one must first learn how to change one’s self; I have broken my preconceptions of age and have discovered that one can “adult” without having to let go of what truly matters.

Written by Arianna RiccioHeadshot

Arianna Riccio is a current Ed.M. candidate in the Human Development & Psychology program at HGSE who aspires to pursue doctoral studies after graduation. She received a BA in French (Psychology minor) from Franklin & Marshall College in 2014 and spent the past year serving as an AmeriCorps*VISTA for the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation in northwest Montana. Arianna’s hobbies include yoga, meditation, writing, and having spontaneous discussions about the meaning of life.


The 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference

On March 2-4, I had the honor of chairing the 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) with the theme Define. Defy. Dismantle: Forging Our Legacy Through Activism. It was hands down the most rewarding experience for me as a student at HGSE. Five months of planning came together for a weekend filled with social activism. We had over 700 registered participants which consisted of students, faculty, staff, alumni, youth, scholars, and citizens from across the country. We had 7 keynote speakers, a special guest, and about 45 workshops over the course of six breakout sessions.

As a Tri-Chair, I was tasked with turning an idea into a full 3 day conference. Before this year, the largest event I planned was a male scholarship pageant through my sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) in undergrad. I had never planned a conference before and was honestly unaware of all it would take to successfully execute this conference. I quickly found out the amount of work, dedication, and sacrifice it would take and I am truly appreciative of the phenomenal leadership team that helped make this conference possible.

On Thursday, March 2, Dr. Peter T. Keo provided a kickoff for the conference. He gave a speech that energized participants and excited the crowd about what was to come over the course of the weekend. Many participants commented on the appreciation of hearing a man of Asian descent speak about dismantling racism from a perspective that is often not highlighted.


Dr. Keo with the Tri-Chairs (from left to right: Kimberly Osagie, Rashaida Melvin, Alfatah Moore)

Friday, there were three breakout sessions and an Askwith Forum. The Askwith forum titled “Take Action: Advancing Justice and Equity in Today’s Climate” was composed of keynote speakers Dr. Arshad I. Ali, Ed.M.’04, Assemblyman Michael A. Blake, Albino Garcia, Jr., and Simran Noor with Christina “V” Villarreal, Ed.M.’05 moderating the panel. We also gave the Courage Award to the Denver Broncos’ linebacker Brandon Marshall for having the strength to fight for justice in regards to police brutality.

AOCC 1799

From left to right: Christina “V” Villarreal, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Albino Garcia, Simran Noor, and Dr. Arshad Ali.

AOCC 1784

Brandon Marshall with the AOCC Tri-Chairs

For a full video of the Askwith Forum, check out the live video on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Facebook page from March 3rd. Also, check out this article I am featured in about the conference and specifically the Askwith Forum.
On Saturday, we had three more breakout sessions, a conversation with Brandon Marshall, granted three awards, and welcomed two additional keynote speakers: Dr. Rhonda Williams and Dr. Bettina Love. All of the speakers were phenomenal. Dr. Williams used spoken word to defy systems of oppression and Dr. Love discussed her curriculum on hip-hop education and fired up the crowd as she provided ways to dismantle oppression in education. I am beyond proud of the final product of AOCC 2017. It will be my greatest memory and experience at HGSE.

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Dr. Rhonda Williams, keynote speaker.


Myself and Dr. Bettina Love (Fun Fact: Dr. Love is a professor at the same university I attended for my bachelor’s degree, The University of Georgia!)

I would love to help recruit the next Master’s Tri-Chair for AOCC 2018! I can give you the ins and outs of the planning process. I had to make sacrifices and give up a lot of free time because of this conference, but it was the BEST decision I made as a student here at HGSE.   


AOCC Tri-Chairs with Tracie Jones from the Office of Student Affairs

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.


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.


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.



True Life: I’m a Graduate Student at Harvard

My Monday Schedule:

7:45 am: Wake up, get ready for class

8:30 am: Leave the house and walk to HGSE

9:00 am-12:00 pm: Attend class

12:00-12:30 pm: Meet with my fellow Tri-Chairs about the Alumni of Color Conference

12:30-4:00 pm: Eat lunch, prepare for class, attend office hours, chat with friends

4:00-7:00 pm: Attend class

7:30 pm-1:00 am: Eat dinner, prepare to go to my internship the next day, complete assignments, read for class, job search, talk to family, self-care

This is a typical Monday schedule for me. I would consider this to be a calm day. One in which I do not have very many meetings and everything goes as planned. Of course, that rarely happens. During my time here at HGSE, I have been challenged beyond what I thought was possible. I have taken on many responsibilities and tasks that, at many times, make me feel as if I am being pulled in every direction. But I like this! There are so many opportunities and I am trying to take advantage of as many as possible.

Q: What do you like best about being a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education?

A: I like being surrounded by the community members at HGSE. Everyday I am learning from and with people who have done amazing things in their lives and careers. I love how humble everyone is about their accomplishments. I could be sitting next to someone who has started multiple businesses or who raises money to support kids internationally, and would never know it because people at the Ed school aren’t about competing with each other. We all just want to do what is best for kids!

Q: What is most challenging about being at HGSE?

A: Trying to do everything I possibly can in one year – and do it all well. I can honestly say that I have tried to take as much as possible from HGSE. Everyday I ask myself, “How can I take more from this experience?” I push myself to think beyond the classroom. The classroom is great, but there are so many other things to take from HGSE that is outside the classroom, and outside of HGSE as well.

Q: Did you feel prepared to come to HGSE?

A: After coming here and realizing how strategic people were in the things they wanted to see and do, I realized that I was not prepared. I was trying to figure things out as I went. Other people who knew exactly which professors they wanted to learn from, which organizations they wanted to be a member of, and how they wanted to impact the HGSE community. I didn’t. I just knew that I wanted to come here and make a name for myself and do something that would make HGSE and myself proud. That was my goal. Of course, I wanted to expand my network and learn from amazing people. But I knew I would only feel that I conquered this experience if I left a lasting mark on this school. Do I think I have positioned myself to do this? I am proud to say yes. Absolutely!

Q: Looking back, what might you have done before coming to HGSE to be more prepared?

A: If I could go back to last summer, I would have used my time more wisely. I would have actually planned out all of the opportunities I wanted to explore as well as the tangible deliverables of my time here. I feel as if there are resources that I am just now tapping into that would have been amazing to experience back in September or October. I then remind myself that it is impossible to do everything and that I have taken on a lot of responsibilities. I know that everything is working out in perfect timing and exactly as it should be. I take comfort in this. I realize that I am only one person and I cannot do everything, even though I try.

Q: What have you learned at HGSE that you will use beyond Appian Way?

A: I’ve learned so much! There is plenty to learn in the classroom and through internships. But what I have learned the most beyond that is about building my brand. Soon I will have this degree and will be back into the work to change the world. How am I going to use my knowledge to help others? How am I going to make a name for myself as a leader in education? These are things that I have learned outside the classroom through conversations with colleagues and friends. This is my focus as I progress through the semester and to graduation. At this moment in my program, I have realized that all of the work I have done here is great, but I have to keep working. I have to keep striving. I have to keep pressing.

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.


Soak it All Up

The realization of how little time I have left at HGSE hit me hard at the beginning of second semester. I have learned so much here, and there is so much more I want to soak up before I graduate. Luckily, there is no shortage of fantastic speakers and events. Here is a glimpse at some of the education leaders I’ve had a chance to learn from over the past few weeks.

At the beginning of the month, I attended a lecture series with Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a distinguished professor at HGSE who is the first African-American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor. The series focused on three of Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot’s books, and examined the relationships parents have with their children and with their children’s teachers. Having played all three roles of teacher, parent and child myself, I was intensely interested in the subject matter. I was also both moved and inspired by Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot’s storytelling abilities. The series was a great opportunity to learn from a professor I may not have been exposed to otherwise.

Last week, I got three chances to glean some wisdom from Kaya Henderson, the former Chancellor of DC Public Schools who made amazing gains in the district during her tenure. First, we had an Education Policy and Management cohort meeting with her that was set up as a “fireside chat.” The day after the cohort meeting, I attended an Askwith Forum featuring Dr. Henderson called Driving Change: Challenges Superintendents Face in Urban Schools. Askwith forums are public lectures put on by HGSE that feature a wide range of topics and often include panels or interviews with prominent leaders in the education field. This Askwith panel also included two other well-known successful district leaders, Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Then I got a final chance to learn from Kaya Henderson when she attended my Politics and Education Change class.

Kaya Henderson is just the tip of the iceberg with speakers I have been exposed to through my Politics and Education change class, taught by Chris Gabrieli. Other class speakers over the past few weeks have included John King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Josh Delaney (EPM ’14), education policy advisor for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Charles Barone, policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, and Neerav Kingsland, former CEO for New Schools for New Orleans.

These are really just a small fraction of the events and lectures I could have attended this month – HGSE and the other graduate schools at Harvard have a never-ending stream of influential people lined up to speak to students. The hard part is choosing what to attend with a limited amount of hours in the day. In the few months I have left, hopefully I’ll be able to attend as many events and soak up as much wisdom as I can!

Sara DeWolf is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program. She has experience as both a civil litigation attorney and a public school teacher. When she’s not at HGSE, you can find her playing with her daughters and exploring Boston.