Tag Archives: Harvard

The Benefits of Cross Registration at Harvard

By far, one of the perks of being at Harvard is being able to cross register. More specifically, students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education are able to register for courses at 12 of Harvard University’s schools as well as courses at MIT, Tufts, and Brown (for GSAS doctoral students).

Having this kind of opportunity truly gives students the chance to diversify and broaden their education; to elaborate, both the style of discourse and the point of views of students at each school can range widely. Therefore, although all classes I have taken have fostered intellectual thought and deep examination of theory, I have genuinely enjoyed seeing how both pedagogy and conversation shift between programs. For example, at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, I was privileged to learn among students who often assessed problems through an astute quantitative lens and it has since pushed me to strengthen my mathematics skills. Further, while enrolled at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, I listened to leaders from around the world appraise problems not by considering the individual but by considering entire populations—as a result, I am better poised to think globally as a decision maker. And in these examples is the jewel of cross registration: the chance to wrestle with and comprehend complex issues via a multiplicity of ideological, theoretical, and practical lenses.

No matter your home school, there is no dearth of engaging classes at Harvard (there are over 8,000 classes listed in course catalog). But if you want to better position your graduate school experience to be wide ranging and full of perspective, I recommend cross registering in at least one course outside of your home school as a way to expand your thinking. And, whichever classes or schools you enroll in, there is one sure thing—as a Harvard student you will learn from inspiring, gifted professors and learn among thoughtful, inquisitive students.

Note: To ensure that you have a spot in your ideal class, it is important that you research the registration steps long before the deadline. For example, each school (both within Harvard and outside Harvard) tends to have individualized quirks when it comes to registration (e.g., Harvard Business School often requires students to email professors a resume whereas Harvard Law School has some classes with deadlines almost two months before the norm). Therefore, make sure to look into the steps necessary to cross register before you join us on campus.

Daniel Dickey is a Master’s of Education candidate in Higher Education, and was elected the Chief Financial Officer and Higher Ed Senator for the HGSE Student Council. Prior to enrolling at Harvard, Daniel taught high school English in an urban school as a Teach For America corps member.

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Wire & Fire Series: Building community one network at a time!

One of my many goals for my year at Harvard has been to not only bask in the glory of the genius that surrounds me but to engage these ‘brainy’ peers/alumni/professors in coffee or lunch meetings; my hope in setting up these coffee sessions is to learn a little bit more about the holistic human behind the impressive credentials and experiences. It was during one of these meetings that a recent alumni of the Mind, Brain, and Education program lamented, “I wish I had more meetings with people and built meaningful relationships last year.” This person was so caught up in course work, talks, events, and projects, that she confessed putting genuine human connection on the back burner. Now she makes it a point to caution current cohort members, lest we fall into the same trap. It is very easy to prioritize personal growth over community-building even though, more often than not, the places we go are heavily dependent on the people we know!

When all is said and done, there is no resource out there that is kinder and more generous than another human. Even better if that human is a former colleague or friend. With that in mind, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council [DIAC] subcommittee for this cohort (a.k.a The Dream Team) – Yanela, Jordan, Rachel, and Mona (with unconditional support from Mandy, our Program Administrator) – set out to establish this core community by highlighting each member’s personal and professional diversity.



Yanela Cruz, MBE ’16


Jordan Freeman, MBE ’16


Rachel Hanebutt, MBE ’16

profile pic 2014

Mona Anchan, MBE ’16     (DIAC Rep)







Mandy Farhoodi Moberger, MBE Program Administrator







The activities and events planned to achieve this were cleverly titled the Wire & Fire Series, as a nod to both the neuroscience element of the program and the famous saying, “cells that fire together, wire together” based on the work of psychologist, Donald Hebb. It also denotes the committee’s dedication to provide several avenues for cohort members to connect and interact with each other in order to build deeper and stronger bonds.


The first phase of the series is Member Spotlights, which are scheduled to begin in mid-February. The spotlight series will showcase one cohort member every day in order to highlight the rich mix of background and experiences that exists within the group. Once started, the Spotlights will run each day in the semester until every member in the cohort has been featured. The next event that will begin in early March will include several coffee and tea gatherings with professors, alumni, and affinity-based peer groups. The third will be a “fishbowl” event that will further the progress made in the previous two events by allowing an avenue for people to connect with each other based on future professional interests. In addition, there are talks about doing a talent show and a musical event in service to the same cause. The committee is also working towards jump-starting awareness and active conversations around the topic of disability since it is an area that does not have the same visibility as the concepts of race, gender, sexuality, and identity at HGSE.

As we begin our spring semester full of hope about building a strong and tight-knit cohort community to last us a lifetime, here is a sneak peak into one such resonant story that patiently awaits in our daily e-mails and Facebook notifications to brighten our days and enrich our lives:

Today’s Spotlight isERIN MERNOFF !
Mona Anchan is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. Mona has toggled between the research and teaching professions for the last ten years. In addition to her role as a Neuroscience and Psychology researcher, Mona has also taught science and math as a high school classroom teacher, tutor, and college instructor. She is on a quest to find avenues to bridge the theory-practice divide between neuroscience and education. She is actively seeking to connect with kindred spirits with the same mission.
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There’s no place like “Hugsie”

joey & HuggsyHugsy? Like Joey’s stuffed penguin from Friends?

Or maybe Hug-Z,  Jay-Z’s cuddly cousin we haven’t heard about! However you spell it, it sounds like a blanket of thousand marshmallows cascading you on a snowy winter’s day…so soft, so warm, an all-embracing bubble of kindness and compassion. That’s Harvard’s Graduate School of Education or HGSE, lovingly referred to by students as “Hugsie” for the ethereal feeling it generates among all who frequent the one block that is Appian Way. I felt it on that cold March day as I set foot on this campus as one of many prospective students at an Open House, and I feel it even more so now that I have spent five long but amazing months as a student here.

Born and raised in India, I was always taught to pick a lane and stick to it if I ever wanted to go somewhere or be somebody. Of course, I never listened! “If you put one leg in one boat and one leg in the other, you will go nowhere and you will drown” is one of the many nuggets of wisdom I heard almost everyday growing up. That’s one way of looking at it. “What if a big awesome ship comes by and picks me up? Then I’ll have something better than two boats and I’ll reach my destination faster,” little me always wanted to say but deferred out of respect to my elders. Well, they may not exist in abundance but there are havens for people who like to pledge their allegiance to more than one discipline and one interest. The Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) cohort at HGSE is one of those havens!

MBE Pie Party 1__Nov 20 2015

MBE 2015-16 cohort at the MBE Pie Party

Having lived under the poverty line for more than six years after my family came to this country, I developed a whole new appreciation for people who generously dedicated their lives to education as a means towards liberation and enlightenment. Since then, I started my dream of starting a school for children in low-income households. As I began to be trained as a neuroscientist, this dream shifted into a different type of school – a school whose methods, operations, and pedagogy was based on neuroscientific research. As I began teaching at a high school, reality reared its attractively-challenged head and my dream came crashing down. How on earth was I going to do this? Where would I start? Who would even understand my mission and goal? Nothing that existed came close to my vision for a school. Looking back, it seems silly that I thought I was alone in this journey. In MBE, I have found scientists, educators, managers, artists, and a variety of other kindred spirits who are fearlessly balancing themselves on the cusp of multiple boats, and are for the most part, WINNING!

But what makes HGSE unique is not just the rapport you build within your own cohort. Professors, coordinators, alumni, and many other permanent members of the community constantly advise us to capitalize on the sea of human potential that we encounter in the form of peers, and that is exactly what I set out to do during my Fall semester. I chose mostly elective classes in non-familiar areas such as policy, entrepreneurship, and technology to complement my  existing knowledge and networks. As a result, I experienced first-hand the reasons behind the gaps between different disciplines as well as professions. But the magnitude of learning, growth, and networks that tagged along with this challenge is so immensely valuable that words cannot do it justice.

A801 section

My A801 section buddies when we’re not disagreeing and debating with each other!

My HGSE colleagues have taught me to truly respect and utilize the value of my peers while being genuinely open and true to myself. I wake up everyday excited to learn things I know nothing about from people in HGSE and beyond. From constant battles about the necessity and feasibility of 21st century skills in an International Development context in my A801-Education Policy Analysis and Research section, to collaborating with the Harvard Graduate School of Design to introduce a design thinking workshop for the HGSE community, and so much of everything in between, the synapses in my brain have formed at an exponential rate since I started this journey in August.

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Happy campers at the Design Thinking Workshop we organized for the HGSE community.

The multitude of interactions and conversations with my peers and professors has taught me to be brave about my vision for a better school, but they have also opened my eyes to the many underlying issues I need to tackle first. But most importantly, they have shown me that I am not fighting alone. We’re all in this together!


Mecca, Eden, “Hugsie”….call it whatever happy place you will! I have never looked back and as this new semester starts, I am hungry for more.

Mona Anchan is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. Mona has toggled between the research and teaching professions for the last ten years. In addition to her role as a Neuroscience and Psychology researcher, Mona has also taught science and math as a high school classroom teacher, tutor, and college instructor. She is on a quest to find avenues to bridge the theory-practice divide between neuroscience and education. She is actively seeking to connect with kindred spirits with the same mission.

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I lived in Boston and commuted to campus all year.

Harvard is in Cambridge, Mass., but my house is not. With two medium-sized dogs, one of whom is a pit bull and not loved by society, finding an apartment was not a walk in the park. However, in Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston south of downtown, my pups and I live across from a park in a three-family Victorian.

the park across the street (taken from the front window of my dining room in fall 2014)

the park across the street (taken from the front window of my dining room in fall 2014)

Dorchester is accessible to downtown and Harvard by the red line subway (or, T, as it’s called here). Some parts of Dorchester are a little bit of a walk away from the T, but I got lucky and live two blocks from a T stop. When I hop on the train, I’m generally at Harvard in 35 minutes, giving me time to read a paper or just enjoy the ride. (Note: during winter storms, I won’t lie: my commute was a nightmare…but so was everyone elses.)

I really love my apartment–it has loads of charm and space for the price tag I’d pay for a much smaller apartment in Cambridge. I love that my dogs have a park across the street as well as a larger park, about a 20 minute walk away, which we walk to every day for exercise.

Dorchester Park, a twenty minute walk away

Dorchester Park, a twenty minute walk away

Of course there are some cons, too. Living a little farther away, I have to plan my time on campus strategically and come equipped with all the things I will need for the day. It’s not really feasible to run home for lunch, etc. I’ve gotten use to this, though, and don’t really mind it. It actually ends up making me be more organized. I have to be prepared for the day when I leave!

I’m not telling you to live in Dorchester (though I think it’s a great choice), but I am telling you that it’s okay not to live in Harvard Square.  You’ll see plenty of Cambridge even if you live elsewhere.

PS: These cuties are pretty happy with their apartment.

Hans, dressed festively for the holidays

Hans, dressed festively for the holidays

Lily was really thankful to have a coat this past winter!

Lily, thankful to have a coat this past winter!

Joshua Jenkins is an Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy strand, pursuing licensure as a reading specialist. Josh was a special educator and reading interventionist in New Orleans and is interested in the research on reading disabilities and what all grown-ups can do to help bolster reading development for all children.


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Some people love the idea of a graduate school open house.

Or so I’m told.

I am not one of those people. If you rewind the tape back to an hour before I attended my first open house last year, you’d catch me giving myself a Blind Side style inspirational speech. It’s a lot of pressure! An Open House is the equivalent of a first date, except you want to get married and they don’t know your name yet.

At least that was the mindset I had a year ago. And then I went to the BU, BC, MSPP, Harvard, Adler and Columbia open houses. Here is what I took away.



The best advice I ever heard was this: make a friend when you walk in. Walk over to the bagels, mention something about cream cheese, and break that ice. As soon as you have one person to talk to, the room isn’t as big anymore. And those conversations may end up being the most valuable part of the day.


Ask anything. Even “Where are the bathrooms?” counts. Like #1, the point here is to get comfortable seeing what happens when you engage in this new environment. You want to find a place that encourages you to speak up- so test the waters a bit! This isn’t a museum. It’s a potential setting for the next phase of your life.

Loosen up and speak up! You’re not in a museum.


The guy (or girl) who keeps talking to hear their own voice. You know him as the one who asks a ridiculously long-winded, specific question (or is it a summary of his resume?) that only applies to his exact situation. Other “that guy” markers: asking questions during group sessions that Google could easily answer or letting you know how far ahead he is in the application process.

Modesty: You’re doing it wrong.

The difference between #2 and #3 often comes down to timing. Ask the small questions offline, rather than in a group.


Business casual is always a safe bet for clothes and humor. Put your cell on silent. Be respectful to the space around you by taking care of your trash (you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this). Don’t trash talk other programs. Don’t brag; you want friends, not admirers.

Don’t make Tina Fey call you out.


Keep an open mind walking in. At this point in life you’ve probably realized things aren’t always what they appear on the internet. So take in how the students act, how you feel asking questions, and what the campus space is like.

Maybe you’ll walk away knowing it is exactly what you want.

Maybe you’ll be exhausted and need more time to think.

Open House Recovery

Either is legitimate. Thumbs up to you for surviving an open house!

You made it! Only 10 more.

Meredith Dreman is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Prevention Science and Practice Program. She is passionate about psychology and reframing the perception of mental health. She loves stories, odd connections, strong coffee and Google Calendar.

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It’s fall, y’all, and the trees are Crimson.

I’m a southern boy at heart from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee–but I’d been living in New Orleans the past four years where it’s pretty much always hot and sticky and the seasons are summer and Mardi Gras. Moving up to Massachusetts, I was excited to see the oranges, yellows, and reds (err, crimson?!) of fall, my favorite season.

A street in Cambridge, just north of HGSE on the walk back from my practicum site.

A street in Cambridge, just north of HGSE on the walk back from my practicum site.

Twice a week, I tutor at a local public school as part of my Reading Specialist licensure requirement. On my walk back to HGSE from school, I frequently wind through various side streets filled with lovely houses dappled with beautiful fall color. A cup of coffee in hand, a bag of books on my shoulder, and I’m at peace with the world.

There’s something about fall that makes academic work seem perfect; I’ve thought so since I sat outside reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in high school, so I’m showing my bias. There’s just something about sitting in your dining room or at the library, staring out at the trees, with some coffee and some scholarly research. Is there anything more essentially Harvard than that?

Dorchester Park, Boston

Taking a break from studying at Dorchester Park, Boston

 Joshua Jenkins is an master’s candidate in the Language and Literacy strand, pursuing licensure as a reading specialist. Josh was a special educator and reading interventionist in New Orleans and is interested in the research on reading disabilities and what all grown-ups can do to help bolster reading development for all children. 

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My Year of Saying, “Yes”

Many of my posts this past year as a HGSE Ambassador involved trying to diffuse the intensity (or insanity) of grad school by finding ways to regroup, de-stress and re-balance. I knew opportunities would be fleeting in a 1-year program, so my time at Harvard had to be, “The Year of Yes” (to copy the book title). Yes to: trivia nights, Askwith Forums, 5 hour Saturday World of Warcraft class sessions, dance performances, wine tastings, impromptu movie nights, happy hours, late night falafel delivery, hockey/football/basketball games, why-not-champagne toasts, brunch, kayaking, Trader-Joe runs, along-the-Charles runs, TGIFs, library-stacks exploration, teas at Lowell House, Grey’s Anatomy, TEDxHGSE, Thursdays, Toscano’s, Toscano’s and Toscano’s. Yes to exhaustion. Continue reading


Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has finally begun to take root (literally) on the streets of Harvard Square. Restaurants are bringing out the patio tables, puffy jackets are being traded in for light pea coats, and there’s a happier feeling in the air, a sign that summer is upon us, and… oh no… graduation is drawing closer and closer. With the reality of having one month of school left, I decided to ask the members of my cohort (and other cohorts as well!) to contribute to my “Must Do” list – a compilation of fun things to do in Cambridge / Boston before we leave. Here’s what they had to say!  Continue reading

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The New Normal

As I enter month 4 at Harvard, I must admit, this graduate student experience of studying, reading, writing, thinking, reflecting, conversing, stressing, not sleeping, wondering, learning, and evolving has become the new normal. Which also means that I freak out much less often now than I did even just 2 months ago.

Eighty pages of readings, a 7-page paper and a group project due tomorrow? Piece of cake. Printer ink cartridge out, alarm didn’t go off, torrential rainstorm? No biggie. I now understand how parents can have chaos all around them and still act like they’re at a Zen retreat. The more you have to do, the more you do!

At first everything seems utterly impossible… but that perspective fades quickly because guess what? It’s gotta get done and by no one else but you! It’s really that simple. So, the only choice you have is to tie on your cape, harness your inner superhero and get to work. Of all the skills I’ve honed in my first semester at Harvard, and there are an abundance of them- critical thinking, research, facilitation, group dynamics, content-analysis, class-presentation… the trio that seems to win out (today anyway) as most needed/valued/used are perseverance, grit and resiliency. This speaks to the learning here at HGSE, it’s multi-layered and always richer and deeper than you thought possible. As much as I’m learning new concepts, ideas, theories or approaches to education, I’m also discovering new aspects about myself- like what I’m capable of accomplishing, for one.

I definitely feel sad that the semester has flown by, but mostly, I feel grateful for the wealth of experiences, proud of my growth, and indeed, tired.

Felicia Kamriani is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Arts in Education program. Having been a commercial actress and educator, Felicia is interested in identity formation and how art can facilitate that process. 

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What is a Cohort?

At HGSE you hear the word ‘cohort’ constantly.  Students, professors, and admissions brochures refer to it as if it was the secret ingredient in HGSE’s award-winning recipe- and in a way this is true.  As a perspective student I kept thinking “okay, this cohort is clearly important, but what exactly is it?”

A cohort is a group of students studying in the same academic program.  Like undergrad, your class is determined by the year in which you and classmates will graduate (HGSE Class of ’15).   Your cohort is the group of students in your program concentration and class year (IEP Class of ’15).

There are fifteen cohorts on campus- one for each of the concentrations, as well as the Ed.L.D. and Ed.D/Ph.D cohorts.  Initially, you’ll get to know members of your cohort through proximity; members the same cohort spend a significant amount of time together throughout orientation.   During the semester, you’ll see the same familiar faces as you complete curriculum requirements and become involved with interest groups and student organizations on campus.  Cohorts develop internal communications systems and become an integral part of your social circle and support network while at HGSE.  But the truth is, no one can accurately describe a cohort because each cohort is unique.  A cohort is a community and each member of that community contributes something different to the overall shape and character of it.

You’ll receive text blasts, Facebook notifications, and mass emails inviting you to chili and board games at Laura’s, a tailgate before the Harvard football game, hikes in New Hampshire, library crawls (how else are you going to see all the libraries and reading rooms on campus?), study groups, local concerts, redsox games, and Askwith lectures. Your cohort will help drive your intellectual, professional and personal growth during your time at HGSE, and it will be what gets you through all of the late nights, long papers, and group projects.

Your cohort is your biggest cheerleader, most honest critic, some of your best friends, but it is not your competition.  HGSE students expect to become leaders and innovators in their chosen fields. We recognize that the best leaders are collaborators and the most important innovations occur across disciplines.   HGSE is about preparing you to make an impact, and your cohort will be one of your most important resources as you embark on this journey.

Me with Tim, also in the Higher Ed cohort, after we hiked Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire.

Me with Tim, also in the Higher Ed cohort, after we hiked Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire.

Ashley Litzenberger is a Graduate Assistant in HGSE Office of Admissions and Master’s of Education candidate in the Higher Education Program. Prior to attending HGSE, Ashley worked in Israel on projects that promoted peace dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She looks forward to exploring the ways in which colleges and universities facilitate intercultural dialogues. 

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