The Final Week

Six weeks ago, if you told me that this experience would go by as quickly as it did, I would not believe you. For me, this experience has been one of the most transformative of my life. I learned so much about myself, and so much about what I want to do within Higher Education and Student Affairs.

I will post a longer synopsis of my whole experience when the internship itself is over, but I learned three major things while I was here. They are truly things that I need to remember throughout the course of the rest of my professional and student-bound career.

  1. Self-care. No matter what. I know self-care is important, but I guess I did not know how much it was important. Perhaps, I am just comfortable enough at SU to recharge whenever I want, but here it was a challenge, and I had to actively remind myself that I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of 15 gifted high schoolers.
  2. Just be present. Again, another common sense rule, but in all honesty, I felt like there was a large portion of my time spent trying to fit into this expectation that I had for myself without really giving it much thought. I did not know what to expect from this experience. Many of the other Proctors knew people and worked with alums of the program. I lost myself for a bit, but found myself–it just took some time.
  3. Know yourself. Self-explanatory. Know what irritates you, and what gives you headaches. Know what gets you pumped up. The support and guidance you want is only established once you establish it yourself.

I would not change the past 6 weeks for anything. The ups, downs, highs, and lows all made it the experience that I needed it to be. The next question is: What comes after Harvard?

Making Your Day Positive

This past week has been nothing but excitement! As Session 3 is officially half way done, all 40 Proctors are 500 residents are coming to the end of their Harvard experiences. With one week left, and the weekend activities here, my week is nothing short of packed to the top!

This past Thursday, I had my last and final formal program: Cand(y)id Cards! This program was different from the other two I put on in previous sessions, as it was community service based. I teamed up with a local family shelter, and myself and all of my residents made cards to give to the kids on their first day of school, as well as general uplifting and motivational cards for the families! It was an event I had not thought to do in the past, and it turned out being absolutely fantastic. The family shelter I worked with was the Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, a Cambridge-based family organization that not only provides fantastic clinical care, but also has 11 permanent housing complexes, and hopes to acquire more!

Cambridge is such a unique city in that it has two prodigal schools on either side of the Charles River: Harvard and MIT. Just from that alone, real estate and the cost of living within Cambridge is disproportionate to the rest of eastern Massachusetts. Even with the two schools, homelessness is still a rampant issue within Cambridge. Every day while walking to the Yard I see it before my eyes. People of all backgrounds struggling to find a safe place to sleep, their next meal, and how will they support themselves and their loved ones.

In total, we made 153 cards for the center. It was great to be able to do something positive with my residents, but also bond with them on a more personal level. Working with the shelter was absolutely fantastic, and I could not thank them more for being supportive, energetic, accommodating in what we specifically wanted to do!

They are always looking for support, so please help out if you can!! They are a great organization working with a great population!

Weekend activities include a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, and a Canobie Lake, an amusement park in Salem, NH. I am so thankful for what this experience has taught me, but I cannot wait to be back in Baltimore starting my Senior Year!!

Round Two

Tomorrow is our check-in for Session 2. Door decorations are up, my whiteboard is finally sticking to the wall, and I am pretty much settled into my new digs. Part of working in a fast-paced environment is being adaptable to change. That change for me occurred in the form of moving because of the way residents were assigned. Between moving, meetings, and a very important Target run, my day today was very relaxing and chill.

I am so excited for this session. After working out lots of the kinks we had in Session 1, I am feeling so much better for the next four weeks. In addition, a group of us has been asked to work with the Activity Coordinators to help with programming and logistics. In my experience with ResLife and Development, I have experience in both, but this opportunity is great as I am working with some amazing other Proctors.

Even though my view is not as nice anymore, I am super excited to be on the third floor of the low rise. The Tower had its quirks, but I think being in a building with halls will make building community so much more better.

I cannot wait to see what this next session brings, and am so excited for the experiences, interactions, and emotions that come with it. Session Two, I am ready for you. Time to start off strong!!

Check Out!!

Loved, feared, awaited, and completed by all, check-outs have yet to escape the lives of Harvard Proctors. Today marks the check-out day for the students in the first session. Aside from having their last 3 hours of class which could have included presentations, exams, projects, or any combination of the aforementioned, residents are expected to get out and go home, much like the traditional college experience.

I never thought that the past two weeks would impact me like it did. These kids I have had the privilege of working with are amazing. For the sake of privacy, I will leave names out, but just know that each one had an impact on me. Whether it was to live a little more, love a little harder, or remain in your zone, each one truly taught me something.

In addition to check-out, I met up with a new friend! One thing about my ResLife department at Stevenson is that they will go above and beyond to make sure we are set for our future. My AD did just that, and set me up with a former colleague who just happens to be at Harvard too! We talked, laughed, and enjoyed ourselves over some nice sandwiches from a local cafe right down the road from where I am staying this summer.

Needless to say it was an amazing conversation that ended up validating some doubts I had coming into the program, the school, and even my Senior Year of college. I have no doubt we will be having many more conversations in the future, especially as Graduate School applications begin rolling out.

Today was a grand success. Former students became friends, strangers became mentors, and I continued being me.

1 Down, 2 To Go!

In two days, residents will be on their way home after a successful two weeks at Harvard Pre-College. They will have left with knowledge, friends, experiences, and the most important, a glimpse at what they can achieve in the future. To think that two weeks ago, I did not know these residents apart, but now two weeks, I feel like I understand what they are going through, the accomplishments they have achieved, and what they want for themselves instead of what the world wants for them.

Expectations were surpassed in the first week. Sure, there were some hiccups here and there, but overall, the first session was a success. The residents were energetic, happy, excited to learn, and engaged, something that does not always happen when it comes to working with college students.

I think most importantly, I have learned a lot about the professional I aspire to be. I have started my professional journey already as an undergraduate, and it is surreal to be saying that I am doing so from a room at Harvard University. This journey has not been easy, and I do not expect it to be in the future, but nothing worth it comes easy, and that is the truth.

1 Week Down, 5 Weeks To Go

This week has most definitely been an experience. I am not sure which words I can use to describe this past week’s events, but I do know that I have learned a lot. From learning how to trust myself and my instincts, to shuttling 150+ kids on a crowded metro, the experiences I have had this week have made me a better person for it!!

I have not posted much simply because so much has happened, and I figured one blog post to summarize it would be better. This week came with challenges, laughs, sighs, and everything in between, but there is nothing better than coming back from an event and being satisfied that you made it back, completed the event, and rocked it all in the process!

This weekend’s trips included Newport, Rhode Island and a Whale Watch at the New England Aquarium. In addition, on Wednesday we went to a Red Sox game, a first for me, and many other Proctors and residents!!

Expect more this week (maybe…most likely), but until then enjoy some pictures!!

Imposter Syndrome

In training, we learned a lot about Imposter Syndrome. It is a psychological phenomenon that takes place when a group of high-achieving people are all placed in an environment close together. Generally, these high-achieving people are in numbers of a handful, but in environments like Pre-College programs, handfuls turn into hundreds of handfuls, and the unique sense of belonging associated with the identity of being high-achieving begins to become blurred.

With such an intense and vigorous program like Harvard’s Pre-College program, these kids are exposed to hundreds of kids just like them: High-achieving, well-rounded, and excited to explore. One thing we as Proctors are tasked with doing is making sure that the residents are not going through Imposter Syndrome. For most, a lack of belonging occurs in any new situation, so it is quickly resolved with social interaction and intentional efforts to create a sense of community. For the rest, feeling a sense of belonging is a priority that masks other initiatives the resident is making. Imposter Syndrome can affect socialization, academics, and the overall perception of the program.

With about 1.5 days of their session already gone, these residents are surely feeling the emotions we felt almost more than a week ago. Empathy goes a long way when dealing with Imposter Syndrome, and having someone who understands the personal reasons for being in the program rather than the expectations of the outcomes can truly make a difference in how a resident acclimates.