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

Besides the reputation, I decided to earn a degree at Harvard Extension because of the benefits and flexibility of the program. I was able to complete the program on my own terms, selecting the classes in the order and schedule that fit my needs.

I had been wanting to pursue a master’s degree for years, but the time was not right. When I was researching for online programs, I came across the Harvard Extension School. It seemed too good to be true. I remembered seeing that they were hosting an in-person informational session on campus, so I decided to travel to Cambridge for a day to attend the session and learn more about the school. As soon as I walked through Harvard yard and entered the iconic and historic Memorial Hall, I was sold!  

Most importantly, I knew that a Harvard education would challenge my curiosity and stretch my mind in a way that opened me up to endless possibilities!

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

One of the most challenging aspects during my time at Extension was balancing life, work, and studies. This was especially true when I was taking two courses at the same time.

One of the most rewarding aspects was being able to grow as a leader and apply the knowledge I was gaining immediately at work and in life. Being in the Learning and Development field, I am already surrounded by people who have a high level of curiosity and enjoy learning, so I took my team on the journey with me. I shared frameworks, books, articles, and even conducted exercises with them while improving our own internal practices.

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

Even though the pandemic forced me to cancel planned trips to Cambridge, it also brought a silver lining. Due to the pandemic, I started to work remotely full-time, and this allowed me to have additional time to focus on my studies by not having to commute to an office every day.

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

My online experience was great! The support of the professors, TAs, my academic advisor Lynn Larsen, and my peers made it a perfect combination. The professors want you to succeed and we as adult students have the desire to learn and grow as a collective goal. Because we are globally dispersed, the diversity of thought, experience, and culture from my peers enriched my experience.

As a distance student, I selected courses that were offered at times that fit my schedule. I also used a separate computer for school. Switching from a work computer to a school computer helped me to set boundaries between the two and fully focus on my studies.

What types of student resources and special options did you take advantage of as a student at Harvard? How did they help?

At the beginning, I participated in the additional academic and career webinars provided by the Career and Academic Resource Center (CARC), from how to write an essay (after being out of the classroom for 10 years, it was very helpful!) to how to use LinkedIn to improve my online presence.

I also took advantage of the Harvard iLab. For anyone looking to learn more about entrepreneurship, grow as an entrepreneur, or network with other students from all Harvard schools, the iLab is a great resource.

In which ways did you connect with the Harvard community?

The on-campus weekends were an amazing and unforgettable experience. Getting to know your peers in person after only seeing each other for a few weeks online was great! It was like many of us knew each other for a long time.

I learned about the Harvard Extension School Management and Finance Club (HESMFC) through one of my peers and applied to be part of the board. I have been fortunate to be part of the club’s board for the past two years, first as the Director of Distance Integration, and then as the President. By taking a leadership role in the club, I was able to voice students’ needs with our academic and Dean of Students Office advisors. I am excited to continue to see the club strengthening, enriching, and expanding our online community around the globe.

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

It is hard to pick only one favorite class or faculty member; they were all amazing! Dr. Paul Green was one of my favorite professors! His name kept coming up during my interactions with other students, so I knew I had to take a class with him before I graduated. I took People Analytics with Paul. His lectures were engaging and thought-provoking, and he always took the time to make sure we were understanding the material. I enhanced my critical thinking ability and analytical skills because of this course.

Additional must-take courses are Strategic Management with Shawn O’Connor and The Art and Practice of Systems Thinking with Mark Esposito.

Do you have any advice for new students?

Plan how you will distribute your time before classes begin and enjoy the experience. Time will go faster than you think!

Describe your Extension School experience in one word.

Growth.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.