Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
The program’s reputation for academic rigor, student resources, and the opportunity to learn from leading scholars in the fields of international relations and political methodology.
How has this experience helped you in your career or personal development?
My studies and thesis research complimented my career with theory-based understanding and, more importantly, an increased appreciation for the impact of colonial history on current African security affairs.
What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Extension?
In Nouakchott, Mauritania, mobile network coverage is sporadic. This mercurial feature of the Sahel led to frequent nail-biting during Canvas homework submissions.
How did you manage to balance your studies with work and family responsibilities?
Pursuing a graduate degree is a significant challenge for many mid-career professionals. Despite living in Italy and working in Africa, I met the on-campus requirements through a seven-week summer session and an intensive learning weekend.
At age 35, priorities tend to crystallize. I learned to balance the long nights, lost weekends, and postponed vacations with my responsibilities as a parent and spouse. I owe my academic success to the support of my family, colleagues, and faculty.
What types of student resources and special options did you take advantage of as a student at Harvard? How did they help?
I received an opportunity to gain experience as a research assistant at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government under the guidance of Professor Matt Baum. Likewise, Harvard Library’s Unabridged: A Master Class in Library Research program provided a week-long, graduate-level workshop in archival research and methods. Both opportunities informed my decision to pursue a lifetime of scholarship.
In which ways did you connect with the Harvard community? If you spent time on campus, what was that experience like?
In the Yard, banners stated, “You belong here.” I felt that was true in my daily interactions with peers, faculty, and the wider Harvard community.
Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?
I swore oaths I would never keep in order to succeed in Professor Gary King’s Advanced Quantitative Research Methodology (Stat E-200). Yet, in the process I gained the ability to wrangle data, build models, and visualize trends to draw meaningful conclusions about African-led peacekeeping. My thesis research would not have been possible without the support of Professor Dara Kay Cohen and Dr. Doug Bond.
Do you have any advice for new students?
Montaigne once said, “Difficulty gives value to things.” Considering that, Harvard represents a great value.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.