Tag: Student Life (page 1 of 4)

Reflecting on my Letter to my Future Self: Daniella Levine

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

I sat by my window in my third floor apartment in Cambridge and looked out on to the street, at the rain ricocheting off the trees. I tried to verbalize Why Heller after a semester of online learning and the weight of a dreary day.  Now, as I sit inside the Heller building on a sun-filled spring morning, I am again lost for words, yet for a completely different reason. There are days when I am unsure of what I’ve learned or frustrated that I have to leave bed, but over the last week, amidst finals and presenting my capstone, I have felt nothing but nostalgia and pride. For better or worse, I have faced a multitude of roadblocks over the last two years. Some of which were felt by the collective community and others more personal. Yet, nothing has deterred me from my studies and my time at Heller. At first, I resented the pandemic for forcing me to choose a local school as opposed to leaving the Boston area. I now (job permitting), intend to stay in the Boston area for work, as Heller has provided me a community here that I’m not ready to say goodbye to yet (of course, unless you are a DC hiring manager, and then I am eager to leave this all behind!).

I am actually shocked to re-read what I wrote in early February 2021 and realize that I was so articulate about my field of study and what I hoped to accomplish. I did not know what I was doing a semester in, and while I am much more equipped now, I still do not have all the answers  (as I aptly surmised). But that is something I’ve come to understand over the last two years, there will always be a new theory, a proposed law, a unprecedented leaked SCOTUS decision that will alter the socio-political landscape. Well, hopefully not the last one… Regardless, Heller taught me to conceptualize the historical foundation in order to adapt to new contemporary issues that arise.

My commitment to gender policy has only intensified and I sometimes get dizzy thinking about the breadth and complexities of the issues. During my time at Heller, I have researched workplace policy, Paid Family and Medical Leave, pay transparency laws, gender-based violence policy, the Violence Against Women’s Act, queer anthropology, carceral feminism, and HIV-prevention policies. Within each of those categories, I have employed an intersectional approach— dissecting the impact of socio-economic standing, race, ethnicity, age, citizen status, gender,  and historical implications. I see myself as something of a gender generalist.

To answer some of the questions from my past self— Heller did in fact provide me a deeper and more theoretical/academic comprehension of contemporary issues to ground the work. I also feel more confident about my critical thinking skills.  While I did not engage too frequently with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office at Heller, I was a member of the Racial Equity Working Group (REWG) and helped to push diversity and inclusion on campus and hold the administration accountable, and I feel very proud of REWGs’s reach. Past self, I did take classes from renowned lecturers like Laurence Simon, Lisa Lynch, Jess Santos, Kaitie Chakoian, Brian Horton, Mary Brolin, Sarah Soroui, Maria Madison and so many more. And I was even able to fit in the Policy Advocacy, Protest, and Community Organizing course with Larry Bailis.

My time at Heller has been invaluable and I feel so blessed to have spent the last two years learning at such a vibrant, passionate, socially-conscience, and diverse institution.

I am honored to be a Heller student and come May 22, 2022, I look forward to my next role as Heller Alumna.

5 Item Bucket List for Summer 2022

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Is that the light at the end of the tunnel?  My favorite season is finally approaching and yes, you guessed it, it’s summertime.  I love summer for many reasons: it’s a time for warm weather and clear skies, relaxation, and spending time with family and friends. What is most exciting about this summer is that after 5 years of attending school in Boston, this will be my first time staying over  the summer. I always hear how fun it is to be in Boston over the summer and I am hoping to reap all the lovely benefits. This summer I am challenging myself to complete a mini 5 item bucket list before school starts back in the Fall.

1.  Take a Trip To Salem

I know what you are thinking— there is no way I been in Massachusetts this long and have not visited Salem. I am busy girl with a lot of academic priorities, cut me some slack! Salem is famous for its Witch Trial of 1692 and its author Nathaniel  Hawthorne. The place is filled with architecture, world class museums, shopping, and restaurants you can easily spend the entire day exploring Salem. If you have any favorite museums and restaurants in Salem please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

2. Read 2-3 Books from my favorite genres

I love reading books for leisure, but I found it difficult to read for my own pleasure while also juggling academics.  One of my best friends from undergrad inspired this task on my bucket list as she has already read about 15 books since the start of this year alone.  I am so excited to walk into a library or bookstore to pick out books from some of favorite genres such as Young Adult Fiction or Thrillers. I would also like to read one book that promotes mental health and self care so that I can learn some tips and tricks to prepare for Fall semester.

3. Teach Myself How to Knit

This item is something that has been on my mind for a little over a year now. When I was younger I would enjoy making friendship bracelets with the really thin string, making my friends and family endless bracelets filled with different designs and colors. I thought to myself, if I can sit for hours flipping, tucking, stretching this thin thread, how hard would it be to knit a thing or two? I feel that knitting will bring me joy, relaxation, and it is also a hobby that I can do anytime or anywhere. If I do say so myself, this item is the one I’m excited for the most.

4. Road Trip

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned road trip. Coming from California, I have always found it to be super interesting that I can drive one or two hours from Boston and possibly end up in an entirely different state! If you drive one to two hours in California, do you know where you would be? Yup, still in California. I am not sure yet if I want to make my way up North or South but the options are endless and hopefully I will have enough gas money to make it through!

5. Volunteer

I have found much pleasure in taking time to make sure I give back to the community. I have previous experience volunteering with the Petey Greene program assisting individuals who are incarcerated  with tutoring help completing their high school diplomas, GED, or college courses. I hope that this summer I can  either volunteer again with the program or sign up to assist at a local food bank or shelter also dragging my friends along with me to do the same!

This mini bucket list is not much but it is something to look forward to, and I hope that I am able to complete at least two (if not all of the tasks) I have listed this summer. I hope to create a bunch memories, a lot of knitted items, and to impact someone else’s life.

Reflecting on my Letter to my Future Self: Hannah Lougheed

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

Wowwowwow. Can you believe it – I am done.  After two years full of classes, papers, exams, internships, blog posts, laughter, and tears, I have reached the finish line. As I look forward to my next steps career wise, I wanted to first look back and reflect on my “Letter to your Future Self” and see if I have made myself proud. Here is what I wrote a little  over a year ago:

Okay, now that we are here at graduation, here are some things I hope I can say as I finish this two year journey:

  • I made it through while making the best of my situation (Covid really changed everyone’s plans, but I hope I didn’t just “get through it” but that I made the most of it). I think I can say I accomplished this one. I will be honest, there were times where I felt as though I could not write another assignment, or read another article, but I never wished I was not at Heller nor did I feel that I needed to put my head down and just push through. I thoroughly enjoyed each class and tried to be as present in the moment as possible during this entire season. 
  • I created some long-lasting relationships with those at Heller who I can always lean on in the future, and who can lean on me. I genuinely love being with people while building friendships and connections. I feel that I have made some great friends and colleagues who I will stay in contact with for many years to come! This includes classmates, workmates, professors, staff, and roommates –  lots of incredible people to add to my people collection!
  • I took advantage of opportunities for various forms of growth while at Heller. Those who walked beside me throughout this Graduate School process can attest to the fact that I am always very involved. From taking on a leadership role as the Co-Chair within the Heller Student Association, to gaining invaluable connections as a Graduate Assistant with Admissions, and everything in between, I took advantage of a number of experiences during my time here which has added richly to my time and Heller, and has shaped me into the person I am today. 
  • I applied myself and did the best work I possibly could throughout my courses. This one is a mostly yes. I will amend it to say, “I did the best work I possibly could with the time and energy available“. In order to have done my absolute best work, I think I would have needed to be juggling fewer classes and activities. However, in juggling those various activities I increased my time management and prioritization skills. It became of matter of cost/benefit analysis for what I needed to gain from this experience. So I can still check this off the box, just with a bit of an amendment. 
  • I left an impact on Heller, and it left an impact on me. Heller has certainly left an impact on me, and I hope I have left one on Heller – but I cannot speak to that! Heller will forever hold a piece of my heart, as these two years have been incredibly formative in the creation of who I have become. 
  • This investment was totally worth it, and I would not have changed a thing… okay maybe the whole global pandemic thing! But besides that, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The investment was totally worth it, and for the most part, I would not have changed a thing. Hindsight is always 20/20, so maybe there were some classes I would swap out,  events I would have attended, and overall ‘life things’ I would have altered. Of course I did not prefer to be online the entire first year, but that was out of the control of anyone as Covid prevented all universities from functioning as normal. So overall, this one was fulfilled as well. 

So, all-in-all I would say I made myself proud! These two years have been incredible in many ways. Now, I  can reflect and be proud of myself for making it through while balancing so much! Time for a much deserved nap.

It has been wonderful contributing to this blog, and for anyone who is reading this, or has read my posts in the past – thank you! It means a lot that others care about my thoughts, and this has been a great outlet to process my time in graduate school. If anyone ever cares to reach out, please email me at hannahlougheed@gmail.com – I am always happy to chat about my time at Heller.

Take a Break!

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

It has come to that point in the semester when assignment levels increase simultaneously to energy levels decreasing. It can feel like a true sprint to the finish line (as my last blog post highlights). We are, however, at the precipice of a break in the form of a full week off of classes! So, how do Heller Graduate students spend their breaks?

I find that I recharge best when home (in Pennsylvania) with family. There is nothing I love more than walking into my parents’ house and smelling that familiar yet indescribable smell, being in a well-known space, spending time with my dogs, and loving on my nieces and nephews – not to mention the home-cooked meals. I also find such joy in revisiting my favorite hiking spots and local restaurants. That is where I will be spending my week off, and I have been working hard the past few weekends to get ahead on assignments so I can be very present while home and truly take a break from school.

But enough about me, here are some of the fun things my classmates are planning to get into:

Beatriz Pleites: “I am going back to El Salvador [my home]. The plan is to hang out with my friends and go the beach!”

Ryan Lansing: “I am working over break so that I can be free to surprise my mom with a visit for her birthday/mother’s day in early May – I am the gift!”

Others have mentioned travelling to Quebec, New York, Cancun, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. Waltham is situated in a location that allows for fun 2-3 day trips accessible by car, bus, train or quick plane trip. Some of my classmates have decided to use the break as an opportunity to get ahead on assignments. Others hope to explore more of their own backyard, enjoying hikes and all of the fun activities Boston offers. Yet others told me they do not know what their break will look like, but they look forward to some unstructured time.

How do you prefer to spend breaks? Regardless of if you recharge through adventure and exploration. family time and familiarity, or quiet rest and relaxation, I wish you the best on your next break. Here is to hoping  that this break reinvigorates us graduate students to put our best foot forward for our final push to the finish line!

An Open Letter to Accepted Students

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

Dear Accepted Students,

Congratulations ono your acceptance to Heller! This is a very exciting time 🙂 I know when I got my acceptance letter, I was really ecstatic and could not wait to start picking out my classes, exploring campus and making new friends. I know this can also feel a bit overwhelming with the amount you have to prepare, but it’s also important to congratulate yourself on this important achievement. You did it!

Here’s some tips I would give as you start preparing to contemplate your decision to come to Heller:

1. Celebrate

First of all, congratulate yourself by celebrating this important achievement! All that hard wok of writing essays, seeking out recommenders and paying for transcripts has paid off, and you deserve to treat yourself. Whether that be by going out to a nice dinner, having a small party with your friends or just by watching the new season of Bridgerton, make sure to take time to celebrate your accomplishment.

2. Talk to a current student

When deciding which graduate school to pick, the amount of information to go through can be extremely daunting. However, one great way to get that information and an insider’s point of view is to talk to a current student. You can do this by reaching out to your existing networks, or even scheduling a time to talk with one of Heller Admissions’ fabulous graduate assistants here! Make sure to come with some questions prepared and think about what is most important to you in a graduate program.

3. Figure out which classes excite you the most

One thing that really helped me decide that Heller was the school for me was by looking at the classes that were going to be offered for the Fall. I get to investigate the required classes as well as the electives I was really excited to take (like Contemporary Issues in Gender and Public Policy and Global Social Entrepreneurship). This is a great way to make sure you can focus on your interests while in grad school, while also getting to explore new ones.

4. Budget, budget, budget!

While grad school can be great, it’s also really expensive. Something that helped me in my decision was by taking a look at Heller’s cost of living and figuring out how it would work into my budget. I looked at how much loans I would have to take out and if I would need to work or not. While I know this isn’t always the most fun thing to do, it’s really essential when making that graduate school decision.

5. Come visit us!

As of Fall 2021, Heller is officially in person and on campus! Although we aren’t offering in person events for this spring, if you’re in the area, feel free to swing by and get a look at the Heller school and the larger Brandeis campus. It’s great to get a chance to walk around campus and get a feel for what it is like.

That’s it for all my tips for accepted students. Congratulations again on being accepted and good luck in making your decision. Heller is a great place to be, and I hope to see you around here really soon!

The Sprint to the Finish Line

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

I see the end. I am in the last half (or Module 2 as Heller lovingly refers to it), of my final year of grad school.  I have less than 6 weeks left, wrapping up a 2 year process in the pursuit of my MS in Global Health Policy and Management, and my MA in Sustainable International Development.

I had this rose-colored ideal of what my final month at graduate school would look like: dancing through a field of spring flowers while socializing with friends and having enough time each day for a midday nap. In this ideal, however, I was not accounting for the triad of a 20 hour a week internship, courses (and a capstone paper), and job applications. Oh, how the mind deceives.

So, in the midst of this chaos – with acute senioritis kicking in – it can feel like you are slowly being lowered into a bubbling vat of assignments with no way to slow the speed at which you descend… a bit dramatic?  Okay, maybe just a bit.

BUT, I am here to tell you – with time management and small goals, you can work to overcome this  impending sense of doom when you too are at this point in your graduate career. Today I present to you (to take or leave as you’d like), some ways in which you can work to proactively stay on top of assignments, especially when lengthy papers are all due the same week.

  1. Do a little each day – even weeks before it’s due. I have found that when I have time, I like to bite off small pieces of monster papers. So, when I wake up early I may work on a paper for just 30 minutes to write even a paragraph or two. For me, the hardest part of doing an assignment can actually be starting it, so this helps with that roadblock. It does not seem like much, but you will thank yourself later when almost half of the paper is written before the time crunch sets in. It also allows you to brainstorm when not working on the paper over a couple of weeks, instead of days.
  2. Set a time for your mind to rest. If you have read my other blogs, or know me at all, you will know I am a morning person, which means that bt the end of the day I am hardly capable of following a recipe. In undergrad, I used to think that I should not have the luxury of relaxing until I had everything done on my list. Now, however, I have learned that it is okay to set a “no-homework” threshold. For me, that is 7pm (keeping in mind I wake up around 5am, so adjust that time as you see fit in your schedule). When I hit that time, I allow myself to watch tv, go for a walk, call a friend, take a bath, whatever I need to do to relax. I do not think about the assignments due, nor do I allow myself to stress about them. This has really helped me in this season.
  3. Set manageable weekly goals. I have, in total, around 50 pages (at least) of writing I need to complete in the next 6 weeks for various classes and projects. If I opted to put them off until the last two weeks of school, I would not only be stressed out of my mind, but the work quality would surely suffer. So, I have listed out all – that’s right, every single assignment due from this point until the end of the semester and broken down how I can work on them each week. For some, I give loose guidelines like “general outlines” or “begin research and start listing sources” for this week. For others, I give hard guidelines like “at least 2 pages written each week”. This helps me because I am slowly working through a project, and doing various ones on rotation so it keeps my interest levels high; also, I am a list-maker so having the ability to cross things off each week really keeps my motivation level soaring. I make the tasks doable as well, so I don’t get discouraged.

As a graduate student, assignments are such an important part of the learning process, but sometimes – it feels like just too much. I hope my  little tips help – I have found them to help me. Keep reminding yourself why you began this process in the first place, you can do it! We can do it!

 

How to Entertain Yourself While in Quarantine

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

We’re now two years into the pandemic, even though almost feels like it’s been a lifetime for me. While the mask mandates have started to come down and it definitely is starting to feel a bit more like normal life again, unfortunately, people are still getting sick with Covid sometimes. And yes, I was one of those people; I got sick with Covid three weeks ago. Thankfully, it was a mild case, and I mostly felt okay for the majority of the time. Honestly, what I feel like I learned the most was how to entertain myself (the extrovert) while being completely by myself. I got sick right around when most of my midterms were, sadly, but when I finished those, I just found myself very bored. So, here are my best tips for entertaining yourself during quarantine:

  1. Watch some mindless reality tv

We all see the popular reality tv shows on Netflix (Too Hot to Handle, Love is Blind, etc), but have you ever sat down and actually taken the time to delve into them? While I had Covid, I found that I wanted to watch something I could get into, but that also was a little mindless. Silly reality tv shows? The perfect solution to this craving I had. Once you get over how ridiculous they are sometimes, they honestly can be really entertaining and make you laugh a lot, even when you’re not feeling so good.

2. Try out a new hobby

At the beginning of the semester, I got really into the show Euphoria. I think one of the coolest parts of this show is the costume and makeup design. To set the record straight, I am not a makeup person whatsoever, but I couldn’t help but admire all of the cool designs all of the makeup artists had come up with on that show. So, in my peak Covid boredom, I got my old makeup palettes out and tried to recreate some of their looks on my face. Did it work? Definitely not. Was it really fun? Absolutely!

3. Make a call to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while

One of the great things about grad school is getting the chance to meet so many amazing people. However, with how busy I am, I definitely don’t have as much time to talk to my friends at home. So, during quarantine, it was the perfect time for me to make a call to some of my friends back home and catch up. It was great to hear from them and also made me feel better when I was getting lonely in quarantine.

4. Read a book for pleasure

Graduate school has a lot of reading; some of which I really enjoy. However, school reading often takes up so much of your time that it’s hard to take time away to read for pleasure. So, during quarantine I took the time to finish up reading Anita Hill’s Book Our Thirty Year Journey to End Gender-Based Violence. Shameless plug- read it! It’s amazing and such an important discussion of the epidemic that is sexual violence in American society. Also, I started reading Eat, Pray, Love, which is a very different book, but one I enjoyed nonetheless.

5. Color your worries away!

Finally, I got out my adult coloring book that a friend had given me when I was feeling a little stressed, and started coloring away! It honestly is a great thing to focus on, especially when you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious. I could not recommend it enough!

There you go! There are Hannah’s tips for keeping yourself entertained during quarantine. Hopefully you won’t need them, but just in case, here they are 🙂

Looking at a New Year Ahead

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

Hello Admissions blog reader! I’m a little late to the game, but a happy new year to all! The start of the New Year is always one of my favorite times; everyone seems so happy and excited for all the new things to come. Even though this year looked a little different because of the covid spike, it still was a great New Year and New Year’s Eve to be had. Even though covid running rampant meant that I couldn’t spend New Years Eve with my significant other, I was thankful because it gave me the opportunity to spend the night with my sister. We watched the ball drop, ate lots of cookies and blasted our favorite songs on repeat.

Once the New Year officially began, I began reflecting on 2021 for a bit and thinking what I wanted to bring with me to make 2022 great. 2021 was a year of firsts for me: my first time getting into graduate school, my first time travelling to Massachusetts (and moving here!), and my first time learning about topics like data analysis, survey design, project management and more. I want 2022 to be as great (if not even more so) as 2021 was for me. I think part of doing that is bringing the same sentiments with me from the last year. I want to go into 2022 with a positive mindset and achievable resolutions.

My two resolutions for this year are to practice more self care and to read more. While these may sound simple, I think they’re really important to my mental health, especially while in grad school. While in grad school, it’s easy to get so caught up in your assignments that you don’t take time for yourself. This year, I want to make more time for self-care. For me, that specifically means taking time to cook, bake, work out, and just relax for a while. In regards to my second resolution, I love reading but it’s not something I always make time for either. I think reading is such a great way to explore new worlds and cultures without even leaving your home! This year, I also want to make more time for pleasure reading. I’ve already started off by reading Red, White and Royal Blue, a very fun romance book everyone should check out (Editor’s note: I also recently read this book and co-sign it as a fun read)!

Whether you make resolutions or not, I wish to everyone a happy and prosperous 2022.

Dealing with COVID-19 as a Graduate Student

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

As we enter our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can feel never-ending and draining. If you have experienced COVID personally, in your family, or close friends group, here is a list of ways on how I have tried to stay safe versus sorry during this time.

First, if you test positive for COVID or come in close contact with someone who has, you should communicate this to others in your academic and professional settings. What we have been seeing a lot during this pandemic is people not wanting to disclose their status but in order to keep the numbers low and everyone safe, it is important to communicate. I recommend that you reach out to anyone you have been in close contact with, communicate to your professors so that they can better assist you with help on assignments or deadlines, and speak to your supervisor so that they can assist you in rescheduling hours and work-related tasks.

Second, make sure to wear your mask, wash your hands with soap and water, and disinfectant high-touch surfaced areas such as doorknobs, light switches, dishes etc. These steps will keep the spread of COVID at a minimum so that you and others are protected against the virus.  If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive, make sure to self-isolate; it can be confusing on how long to self isolate for, especially if you received a COVID-19 vaccine but make sure to follow CDC recommendations.

Third, isolation and self-quarantine can be very difficult, having to sit in one space staring at the walls. Begin to find hobbies or things that interest you. Work out or do yoga for 15-20 minutes to keep your body up and running if you are able, start a new book, meditate or begin a self-journaling journey; anything that will keep your mind or body stimulated without causing too much stress on yourself.

This pandemic has been a hard and long one, but by following these simple steps, we can help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Broccoli and Potatoes

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

Yes, you read that right: broccoli and potatoes. We have all been there: dinnertime, standing in the kitchen looking for what you are going to eat to refuel yourself, exhausted, low energy, and just ready to call it a day and turn off your brain. You reach for the sad bag of ramen that has sat in the back of your cupboard for a questionable amount of time then reconsider… Well, my friends, let me fill you in on a secret – you too can enjoy the luxurious taste of broccoli and potatoes to break up your dinner time dilemma.

Here’s what you need:

1 head of broccoli

1 medium/large potato of your choosing (I prefer yellow potatoes)

Olive oil

Salt

Parmesan Cheese

Honey

Cut and coat the veggies in olive oil and salt then put in the air fryer (or oven, if no air fryer) for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 10 minutes, move the veggies around then let sit in the fryer for another 6-8 minutes. When done, sprinkle with cheese and put some honey on top and voila! you’ve done it!

So, why am I telling you about this absurdly simple meal I make almost every night (not even kidding, ask my roommates – E V E R Y  N I G H T)? Well, in the midst of crazy grad school schedules, work schedules, and just general life craziness, having one less thing to think about each night has made my life much easier. Additionally, when you’re on a tight budget, this is a very wallet-friendly and healthy meal. Yes, it can be boring to eat the same dinner most nights, but for me, the trade-off is worth it.

I hope this grad school hack is helpful, or you may just think I’m a bit eccentric for eating the same meal each night. Regardless, the bottom line is, when life gets crazy busy during your time in grad school (which it inevitably will), having one thing that is constant and routine can be a nice way to reground yourself at the end of a long day. For me, that one thing is dinner as I keep it easy, quick, healthy and mindless. If you have a favorite dinner go-to please let me know, I – clearly – could always add a bit of variety to my dinner time routine.

*I have to throw an acknowledgement to my roommate Andy Mendez, as she inspired me to write this post!

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