Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
It was always my goal to earn a higher degree and I often reflected on how quickly the years passed and life “happened.” In researching some summer options for my oldest child, I came across a New York Times article featuring a student who graduated high school with a Harvard Extension degree. I’d never heard of Harvard Extension and once I started researching the school, I knew this was my second chance. A chance to study what I love, get my masters degree, and show my four children that learning is lifelong—that despite both my grandmothers never learning to read, my parents never going to college, and despite being a political refugee from the Soviet Union, it is never too late to build on your knowledge and better yourself.
What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Extension? What was the most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect during this journey was balancing work, campaigning, raising my children, and at the same time giving my education the time and dedication I wanted to give. I accepted that I could only manage all these aspects successfully by taking it slow and steady. The biggest reward was the excitement it created in my home, when I would discuss what I was learning with my children.
Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?
It is hard to pick one class or faculty member that was my favorite because each course, professor, and TA, built brilliantly on the previous courses. Deliberative Justice, taught by Professor Sergio Imparato, was the course which I never wanted to end, because it allowed for a deeper understanding and layering of previous course work, readings, and allowed for greater depth in my research and writing.
What types of student resources and special options did you take advantage of as a student at Harvard? How did they help?
I took advantage of the writers’ workshop as well as meeting with the Hollis librarians. Regrettably due to Covid, I was limited to zero on-campus options. Both the workshops and Zoom meetings were a fabulous value added to my course work. It is something I should have taken advantage of from the beginning.
Do you have any advice for new students?
My advice for new students is to truly consider your level of commitment, your availability, and your reasons for taking courses at HES. The courses were consistently rigorous, expectations were set very high, and while your fellow students will inspire you, their brilliance can also be intimidating. Be prepared to work hard for that certificate or degree while at the same time not wanting it to ever end.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.