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As it Happened: Harvard Commencement 2023
Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana and Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget T. Long discussed pathways to education careers at an event hosted by the College on Tuesday.
The administrators highlighted partnerships between the College and the Graduate School of Education before a small crowd of students in Harvard’s Smith Campus Center.
“If you’re looking to maximize impact, there is no job that will give you greater satisfaction than being a teacher,” Long said at the event.
The event comes as HGSE is promoting a new master’s program in Teaching and Teacher Leadership, which began this fall.
Long talked about several pathways to education for undergraduates, such as the education secondary offered at the College. Harvard recently shut down two programs that offered a pathway to teaching for College students. The Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, which allowed students to earn their teaching certification while in College, was shuttered last year. The Harvard Teacher Fellows program, an initiative that trained undergraduates to become teachers during and immediately after their time at the College, was folded into HGSE’s new master’s program.
“We want to build on what the college has already been able to do, especially for our teacher education candidates,” Long said. “Part of what tonight is about is just to make sure that you understand that with all of the changes, there are so many opportunities there for you, and it's really about growing those opportunities now.”
At the event, Long lauded connections between HGSE and the College and said she hopes to expand education offerings at Harvard.
“I think that the sky’s the limit because, in many respects, we want to be as inclusive as possible for anyone who believes in the importance of education and wants to work with us,” she said.
Long, who was appointed as chair of the National Board for Education Sciences by President Barack Obama, discussed the impact of Covid-19 on education, saying the education system reflects broader societal inequities.
“The inequities I’m talking about have been around for decades, but then, when the pandemic happened, it just shows how stark the differences are,” she said.
Khurana asked audience members whether a student organization — similar to the Harvard Institute of Politics, housed at the Harvard Kennedy School — would help interest undergraduates in education.
“I think part of the promise of college is that you find your sub-communities — you find your people — in certain interests,” he said.
Midway through the event, Khurana, who moderated, asked audience members to weigh in on student interest in pursuing a career in education. Hannah B. Thurlby ’23 said many students feel pressure to take higher-paying jobs after graduation.
“There is that pressure, I think, from a lot of students at the College: ‘Oh, you’re not going to make X amount of money immediately after graduation,’” she said.
Thurlby suggested for other students in the room to seek out current teachers and peers interested in the education sector for encouragement and advice.
Long encouraged attendees to be open to stints in other fields, recalling her own experience as a Goldman Sachs intern.
“I was bored out of my mind,” she said. “Like, really? I’m supposed to stay up all night for what? Doing a spreadsheet? I’ll stay up all night when we’re talking about real things and having impact and helping and prompting people. That’s worth it.”
—Staff writer Paton D. Roberts can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @paton_dr.
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