In what ways did the accessibility or flexibility of HES help you in your journey?
The accessibility of HES has been vital to my degree studies. Over the course of four years, I’ve taken classes in locations as diverse as Boracay Island in the Philippines, the south coast of England, a seat on a plane traveling across the Pacific, and most of all from the safety of my home in Manila at the height of the pandemic.
The ability to choose from such a wide range of courses has helped me exercise a variety of creative muscles from short story writing, poetry study, an analysis of world fiction, and — perhaps most fruitfully for me — the practice of narrative non-fiction.
I researched and wrote my thesis over a period of several months and was given the support and encouragement to try various approaches before committing to the form that it eventually took.
I found crafting my thesis proposal particularly helpful in this as it allowed for a wider examination of the issues around the way you can tackle a subject.
One thing I was also grateful for was the chance to explore the full range of courses — including some that I didn’t end up taking! The sheer scope and quality of the choices on offer made for some very tough decisions.
In many of my courses I was able to benefit from interactions between my fellow students and the instructors. I have found all to be equally generous in sharing their approach to studying and in their interest in the pursuit of better outcomes for the work.
I entered the degree program with the intent of pursuing the qualification as an end in itself. But I found that as I worked through it, I got more satisfaction from the improvement I was making in my writing abilities, and the greater confidence I was acquiring with research and evidence.
Through this process I feel I have changed for the better with the skills and practice that I’ve learned.
If you completed a capstone or thesis, describe what you did and the impact it had.
My thesis re-examined of The Beatles’ 1966 World Tour and, in particular, the circumstances surrounding their trip to the Philippines. The leg of the tour there did not go well but had a profound impact on the band and the country.
Thanks to my thesis I was able to create a radio documentary on the topic by the BBC World Service. Currently, I’m at work creating a book proposal on the subject.
What’s something unexpected that you learned about Harvard?
I learned that there is not one “type” of student who goes to Harvard — and that it’s all the better for that.
What are you going to miss the most?
I’m going to miss the challenge of learning something new every week and sharing the experience with some of the sharpest minds.
Describe your Extension experience in one word.