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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

Many times while here I’ve heard the analogy that being at Harvard is a lot like trying to drink water out of a fire hydrant. There are so many things to do and so many opportunities to choose from, and there is no way you can do everything. You just can’t. 

There are so many courses I would like to take, yet I can only fit 4, maybe 5, into my schedule each semester. Some of those courses overlap, so I will have to decide which ones I would like to take the most. One thing that has been extremely helpful is course shopping, something that seems to be unique to HGSE. During orientation week, professors will have a 45 minute session where you can preview their course, ask questions, and get a feel for their teaching style. I find these so valuable because it gives you a clearer picture of what you can expect. I know in my undergrad career I have taken some courses ended up being completely different from what was presented in the course catalog. 

The other great thing about being here is that you can also cross register at other schools within Harvard, as well as schools like MIT. The downside is that not all the other schools have a shopping schedule. Still, it’s great that we have that opportunity to explore interests and courses outside of our programs. 

The other area I’m having a hard time with is internships. There are so many opportunities here – each day I am getting new emails or being told by professors that they need help with their projects, and everything is amazing. I know that I would like to find an internship in an area outside of what I’ve already done (teaching) so that I can expand my growth and learn new skills. Then the question I run into is what do I decide to do? Educational media? Educational game design? Consulting and research? Start ups? Non-profits? There are literally a million different opportunities, and I really hope that tomorrow at the internship expo I can narrow it down.

I also found out that since I have work study, I can actually get paid for internships, which is awesome! It also seems that many internships here offer course credit in addition to some sort of financial compensation. 

Honestly, I’m overwhelmed in a sense. I’m not used to saying no to great opportunities, and here I have an abundance! I have to remind myself that I am only here for one year, and I can only do so much. 

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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

Prior to beginning my studies at Harvard, I was an elementary school teacher for three years. I had taught kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade in the SF Bay Area.

Before becoming a teacher, I was pursuing journalism. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism at USC. I thought I would be some kind of multimedia journalist, but by the end of my senior year, I discovered I wasn’t as passionate about that field anymore. Luckily, I had been part of the Honors in Multimedia Scholarship at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy (now called Media Arts and Practice), where I was exposed to new ways of thinking about media and its consumption. I ended up double minoring in Digital Studies and Interactive Media and the Culture of New Technologies. I was trying to think of a way I could combine this background and find my dream career. That’s when I was presented with an opportunity to facilitate multimedia workshops for high school students. I loved it, and decided to pursue teaching through Teach for America.

I started as a highly idealistic teacher. In my mind, I envisioned a classroom where students were highly engaged with technology and creating new things. In actuality, I struggled. I didn’t have the practical teaching experience or the resources to do that. Most of my first year was spent just trying to survive and teach what I could with what I had. As the years went on, I gained more experience and was bumped to various schools within the district. Then, I finally had access to technology and the opportunity to integrate it into the classroom. It was both exhilarating and frustrating.

On one hand, I was finally able to create authentic and engaging learning experiences for my students. On the other, it took a while to really figure out how to create those experiences while still assessing student learning, and conforming to the myriad of testing standards. Additionally, there was so much bureaucracy to deal with in terms of getting technology approved in time.

It was these experiences that led me to the Harvard Graduate School of Education

I want to deepen my impact. As someone who grew up in a low-income household, I can empathize with a large percentage of public school students. I really believe all students should be digitally literate and have access to technology. It is the 21st century, yet there are so many that do not have access to the basics. Even then, schools that do have access don’t always have the resources to adequately prepare their teachers to use it effectively. When I found out about the Technology, Innovation, and Education program, I knew I had to take a chance and apply. When I found out I was accepted, there was no question – I had to go.

So, my fiance and I took a cross country road trip with two dogs and one cat, and here we are in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I know this is going to be incredibly hard work. I know this will be intense. I know this will probably be one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever undertaken.

I’m ready for you, Harvard. Bring it.