Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?

In February 2014, after becoming a first-time mom, I realized that there was no way I could tell my daughter to follow her dreams if I did not lead by example and achieve my own academic and career goals. And in fall 2015, I took my first course geared towards achieving my degree.

How has/will this experience help you in your career or personal development?

This experience has given me the confidence and determination to continue to reach my academic goals of attaining a Master of Liberal Arts in the field of Creative Writing and Literature from Harvard Extension and also a Ph.D. in Applied Development Psychology from Suffolk University. Ultimately, I plan to utilize my academic knowledge, forthcoming research, and behavior analysis skills to increase my comprehension and work towards achieving three goals in an effort to reach a wide audience and engage with changing health care delivery:

  1. SPEAK: Become a child and adolescent psychologist and/or education consultant specializing in minority children and families with special needs and the implications and overall impact on their lives concerning the Individualized Evaluation Plan (IEP) within the public school system.
  2. WRITE: Utilize my research and writing skills, forthcoming statistical knowledge, and creative writing background to create meaningful child and middle-grade literary works to support minority children and families with special needs to cope with the various changes and challenges during their adolescent years.
  3. MOTIVATE: Speak to and for minority children and families with special needs in the public and/or private sector to build awareness of the different socioemotional and physical needs for this underserved and marginalized community to thrive and reach their full potential.

My career aspirations are massive and the ALB program at Harvard Extension School has prepared me to accomplish them all.

What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Extension? What was the most rewarding? 

The most challenging aspect was time management. As a mom of a vibrant child with special needs, I wear many hats: personal assistant, chef, cheerleader, driver, and momager. Not to mention, as a student, employee, house manager, and everything else that comes along with adult-ing—my plate is full. So strategic planning and prioritizing were essential in order to not miss a beat. If I had the opportunity to do it all again, would I? Yes, without a second thought. 

In what ways did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you over the past year? How did you manage those challenges? 

The COVID-19 pandemic provided me with a new level of respect and admiration for school teachers. In addition to my many jobs listed, I had to become an effective first-grade teacher overnight. My daughter’s school was amazing in guiding myself and her dad through the curriculum; however, we were not Ms. Howell, Ms. S, or Ms. R. We were only Ebony and Antwonn, but we made it work. COVID-19 birthed a level of stress and anxiety that no individual should have endured, but the experience further confirmed that academic goals for our family were achievable with determination and consistency.

What was your online learning experience like? How did you ensure success as a distance student? 

For the most part, my online learning experience did not change.  However, the current political and health climate served as major distractions and required allotted class time to discuss perspectives and grievances with the United States of America. What I admired most was each professors’ willingness to have hard conversations about racism, classism, and fairness in order to create a positive class atmosphere, making class a welcomed escape from the many traumatic world events.  

Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?

My favorite course was Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music taught by Aly Corey, PhD. Dr. Corey pushed me to think outside the box, and then look at the box from the outside with a new perspective. At times in the course, my academic growth process was hard and uncomfortable, but ultimately improved my close reading skills and allowed me to become a better writer overall.

Do you have any advice for new students?

The only thing that stands in the way of you, is YOU – so push forward authentically and unapologetically. 

Describe your Extension School experience in one word.

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This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.