Tag Archives: HGSE

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

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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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Welcome to HGSE, Admitted Students!

Welcome, newly admitted students, to HGSE!  Some affectionately call this place Hug-see.  Others really hate that pronunciation and call it H-G-S-E.  Then there are students like myself who call it the Ed School.  Whatever name you decide to call this place, I really hope it will be your home for the next year!

It is a wonderful feeling knowing that I have been at the Ed School for 6 months.  I cannot describe how much I learn every day.  While the time passes incredible quickly, there is a certain pleasure in knowing that one is taking full advantage of a place like Harvard.  It’s not just the classes, though they are great.  It’s the people, the speakers who come to campus, the self-reflection and growth that happens, and the moments of fun that I will remember most from HGSE.

Last Thursday, I participated in the HGSE phonathon.  It was really lovely welcoming new students to the Ed School – it felt like we were all part of one community, and I felt proud to be the first person that many admitted students spoke to about the Ed School !  Pay it forward, right?

For those admits reading this, come to the Ed School!  Hopefully your experience will be as joyous as mine has been so far!



Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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Trisha & Garth come to HGSE and school us on LIFE


Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks receive special one-of-a-kind HGSE belt buckles as a thank you for their visit!


Grammy-award winning country music artists Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks came to the Harvard Ed School today. Wow–that sentence sounds weird, right?! That pretty much sums up Harvard’s offerings–there are always a million (and unexpected) things happening. I’m so happy that they stopped by HGSE while making a tour stop here in Boston.

Here are a few ways Garth and Trisha schooled us on LIFE here at HGSE today–but first an important anecdote about why I personally love them and their music.

I grew up in East Tennessee–the same county another famous country music star, Dolly Parton, hails from–so naturally country music, particularly from the 1990s, is near and dear to me. Hearing songs from Garth and Trisha have that Proust-and-the-madeleine-effect. Our senses trigger nostalgia and memory in such a strange and beautiful way. One line of “The Dance” by Garth or “She’s in Love with the Boy” by Trisha, and I am sitting in my grandfather’s old Ford pickup driving down the road on a hot July day. Their music is very special to me, and it was a delight to see and hear from them today!

Trisha and Garth’s Life Lessons

1. It takes courage to follow your dreams–but it’s worth it. Throughout, they shared stories and advice about how it takes courage to dream big and make things happen. Garth and Trisha reflected about the courage it took to leave their hometowns to pursue their passion for music as well as the courage to keep moving forward after some rough patches.

2. Perseverance. In the same vein, they discussed how failure is often the path to getting better. Trisha laughed and shared how when she first started out, she was singing in a bowling alley. Garth shared his story as well, starting out in “Willie’s Saloon,” covering Billy Joel songs. They didn’t give up!

3. Generosity. Trisha and Garth shared their values, one of which kept coming back to being generous and making a contribution to society, a value they emphasized as a high priority to instill in their children. They also shared about some of their work with Habitat for Humanity, Trisha’s work empowering young girls to dream big and be themselves, and Garth’s own Teammates for Kids, which helps support programming for kids who need it the most.

4.  Take risks and be yourself. Garth talked a lot about how he wasn’t always the most popular or applauded and actually chastised by the music community in the earlier 1990s for his music, such as the line “When we’re free to love anyone we choose” from his song that speaks about social justice, “We Shall be Free,” but that he was just being himself. Trisha talked about how her cookbooks and cooking show was the last thing she thought would happen but that it was a good risk to take as it’s a fun second career.

All in all, it was a delightful afternoon at HGSE! I wonder who will stroll onto Appian Way next…

From left to right, Me (Josh Jenkins), Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, and an equally excited fan and classmate, Holly Boerner!

From left to right, Me (Josh Jenkins), Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, and an equally excited fan and classmate, Holly Boerner!

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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J-Term: A Time to Grow and Think

Winter break passed by in a flash, and I found myself back at HGSE over J-Term! What an incredibly interesting few weeks I had during these last two weeks!  Before this time, I wouldn’t have been able to tell my friends that I had the chance to personally have philosophical discussions about truth, beauty, and goodness with the famous Prof. Howard Gardner!  What an opportunity!

I truly enjoyed my J-term class (Prof. Karen Mapp’s “Effective Family School Partnerships”) as well as various J-term activities. As a student with various interests, I loved the opportunity to find out about different educational topics in a short amount of time. For example, despite my interest in education, I had never read Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Since reading it over J-term, I think about education in a different way.

As J-term is wrapping up, I am realizing how much I learned during this short period. Before J-term, I did not know what instructional design meant, or what the elements of design thinking were. I did know that there was an entire theoretical framework for negotiations, which I learned during a Negotiations weekend workshop. Neither did I know my strengths with video storytelling and my ease in front of the camera.

J-term allowed me the opportunity to learn about topics I did not have exposure to before, and may not get a chance to learn in my semester classes. It allowed me to learn about my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as giving me the chance to meet lots of cool HGSE students I hadn’t gotten to hang out with before!

For students considering HGSE next year, don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn and grow during J-term!

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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More Than A Section — A Community!

Sections that are allotted for some courses allow you to meet with a smaller group of your course mates and a Teaching Fellow to further discuss the material brought up in class and in the readings. They offer a great opportunity to interact with your classmates on a deeper and more meaningful level especially if your usual class size is extremely large. Despite the initial awkwardness in the first few weeks, the cozy feeling of community in the section that is bound to follow allows you (by you, I actually mean me! :D) to break out of your shell, get past the inhibitions to speak up and participate in meaningful discussions about your thoughts, questions, doubts and quite frankly anything remotely related to the class.

In that respect, the section for my T440 class (The Having of Wonderful Ideas) has definitely been one of the best aspects of my first semester at HGSE. I do appreciate the friendships that have formed through this section and have been strengthened outside of class. This section has allowed me to explore the material we’re exposed to in class on a deeper level. And I would definitely have to add that this experience with this extremely supportive and encouraging group has definitely made me more confident about speaking out and putting forth my opinions though they may differ from the perspective of the majority. In addition, having the tremendous opportunity to dialogue with all these people from different programs in HGSE, other schools in Harvard (e.g. Business School, Medical School) and even other universities (e.g. MIT, Lesley University) has truly enriched my worldview!

Processed with Moldiv

Here’s a photo of a group of us trying to explore exactly how mirrors worked at the Gutman library! (I was really surprised at how much we thought we knew about mirrors, but actually didn’t!)

Divya Somasundaram is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Language & Literacy program. As an educator-to-be in the island city-state of Singapore, Divya is interested in the intersection of language policy and language teaching, as well as enabling equitable access to literacy.



Regatta, Rain, and Reflections

Excitement to Reality:

You know when you first start something new, all you can think about is the excitement? And it’s still hard to believe that you have achieved or acquired that the new thing? You are in a constant state of joy because everything is so novel.   That’s how I felt about HGSE when I first arrived.  The first two months for me were a time to meet incredible people from all over the United States and the world, settle into classes, and tour Boston.  It was definitely part day-dream, part-wonder, and part-awe at the opportunity that lay before me.


It is only in the last week or so that reality has set in.  Part of it is that the fall weather is slowly giving way to winter.  For a girl from Virginia via California, the Boston winter is my biggest fear this year.  Yes, I said it.  So the fact that it started to rain pretty regularly and that I have had to bust out my gloves is quite concerning for me.

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Welcome to the Diverse Community at HGSE!

It is difficult to figure out how to start blogging about the enormous experience that characterizes a master’s student’s life at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). It has only been two months since I have started at HGSE, but I feel like I have had the opportunity to fit a great deal of academic, extracurricular, and life events into such a short time.

There is the overwhelming fact that classes here are really awesome!  One can easily become overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of academic opportunities that exist here. AND that’s not it! There are so many extracurricular activities here too. Keeping in mind that I can’t do it all, I chose my classes so that I could balance both my academic and extracurricular interests.

Attending Diversity Dialogues and Candid Conversations through the Office of Student Affairs, going on school sponsored field trips to Cape Cod and Salem, learning about Boston through the Black Heritage Walking Tour, going camping with friends, watching the Regatta, and just exploring the Boston has been an experience in itself.

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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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