Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
I moved to Boston to be a street performer as a beatboxer at Faneuil Hall. Although I always dreamed of going to Harvard someday, I gave it up years ago as impossible. When I learned about the Extension School, I couldn’t believe it was really a possibility!
Harvard Extension was the perfect fit for me. It allowed me to fully pursue my career goals while also pursuing a higher education. My job as a youth speaker requires a lot of travel that wouldn’t allow for a traditional degree, but with the online options and flexibility with scheduling, I was able to do a lot of homework on planes and in hotel rooms.
How has/will this experience help you in your career or personal development?
It has already helped me immensely. My primary job as a speaker is to inspire youth of the next generation to dream big. During every presentation, I tell high school students that they can go to Harvard if they really want to! There are always options like Harvard Extension that make those dreams possible.
How did you manage to balance your studies with work and family responsibilities?
Finding balance was the biggest challenge during my time at Extension. But being able to attend class remotely was a huge help. I was on the road almost every week and was glad I could call in to class from wherever I was.
I remember moments where I had to hurry off a flight to get to class on time, or hunkering down in a hotel lobby, or even sitting poolside in California. It was wonderful to learn while traveling the world.
My family has been extremely supportive through this all. There were several nights my wife had to put the kids to bed solo so I could be in class or complete a homework assignment. She also helped me work through my homework and deepened my learning through post-class discussions.
What types of student resources and special options did you take advantage of as a student at Harvard? How did they help?
By far, the greatest resource for me has been the Harvard Innovation Labs. This is Harvard’s entrepreneur ecosystem that brings all schools together to explore ideas and solutions to change the world.
I first started attending to get advice on my youth speaking business. Then I was accepted into the Venture Incubation Program for my startup, Forgeant, where I worked alongside other amazing students from all of Harvard’s other schools to build a platform, secure funding, and access mentor resources.
Because I was working out of the space so often, the staff noticed some of my video abilities and social media distribution skills and offered me a job. I’ve since been on staff working with startups to grow their business further, faster.
In which ways did you connect with the Harvard community?
I accessed the mentorship program when I first started, which was a great way to connect with other students. I attended as many events as I could. I LOVED being on campus during the summer, and especially enjoyed the concerts and outdoor activities. I spent a lot of time studying out on the grass and in the computer lab, which by the way, has amazing tech to use and rent. I had a great time skateboarding around and visiting my favorite spots in each library, even the stacks in the Widener.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.