Author: amandamiller (page 1 of 10)

Heller Hacks: Pro Tips from the Inside (BCC Community Therapy)

Two weeks ago, I started this series, Heller Hacks: Pro-Tips from the Inside” with a post about Heller Enrichment Funds. This series is deigned to give both prospective and admitted students the inside scoop about programs at Heller that they may not otherwise be aware of, things that I’ve noticed many of our most successful students take advantage of during their time at Heller. Today’s post is, I think, especially important for students to know about, as I really believe support in this area can be a make-or-break factor in your success at graduate school: BCC’s Community Therapy program.

Let’s face it, graduate school can be tough. One thing I’ve learned from my time in higher education is that any problem a person can have, a student in graduate school can also have. That includes, but is not limited to health problems, job loss, break-ups, new relationships, starting a family, losing a friend or family member… the list goes on. But when you’re in graduate school, you could potentially be dealing with any of these problems on top of managing to study, take tests, write papers, and attend classes, which is already hard enough! That’s why, in addition to the access that all students have to Brandeis’ Counseling Center, Heller also has an in-house community therapist.

Driven by the counseling center’s mission and inspired by Brandeis’ value of community transformation, BCC Community Therapists provide free, confidential mental health services. Community Therapists can offer strategies to strengthen life and coping skills, insight and support, as well as information and connection to additional resources. Whether it’s stress, worry, sadness, relationship or family dilemmas, or academic performance, sharing concerns with another person can make an impactful difference. No topic is off-limits! Community Therapists can also help determine whether formal counseling would be useful and, if appropriate, assist in getting connected to appropriate services.

All Brandeis students can receive a total of three community therapy sessions. And at Heller, we are lucky to have Roxann Mascoll, LCSW, as our staff therapist. A little about Roxann: “Roxann identifies as a Black Nuyorican. Her professional interests include relational therapy, trauma-focused family dynamics, and she is an empathic clinician. Roxann’s interests are counting how many times someone sings the “Roxann” song (The Police/UTFO). She loves working to improve her health and mental wellness. She is an avid Caribbean cruiser.”

At Heller, we believe that mental health is a crucial component of success in both academics and life. That’s why we are committed to providing access to mental health resources for our students, including the services of our talented staff therapist, Roxann Mascoll. As a student, don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage of this valuable resource!

Heller Hacks: Pro Tips from the Inside (Heller Enrichment Funds)

Welcome to the first installment of “Heller Hacks: Pro Tips from the Inside”! As an admissions professional at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, I have the privilege of working with students from the moment they first consider pursuing a degree at Heller. Through my interactions with prospective and current students, I have seen firsthand what contributes to their success in the program.

In this blog series, I will be sharing practical tips that I’ve noticed many of our most successful students take advantage of during their time at Heller. These won’t be typical advice like “manage your time wisely”, but rather, specific, actionable things that you can take advantage of during your time at Heller to make sure you’re making the most out of your time here. First up: Heller Enrichment Funds.

The Heller Enrichment Funds are a way for eligible students to apply for financial support for their academic and professional development. The funds are generously supported by Heller alumni and friends and earmarked exclusively for student support. Heller Enrichment funds can help you to cover a variety of expenses, including reading materials or expenses related to attending a professional conference relevant to your areas of professional and scholarly interest.

Master’s students are eligible to apply for book awards up to $250 to help the costs of reading materials for the semester. The Book Award can cover the cost of materials that are a course requirement, such as textbooks, books, software, and coursepacks. Masters students can also apply for a grant to pay expenses related to attending a professional conference relevant to their areas of professional and scholarly interest and which could provide valuable career networking opportunities. The Conference Award can help to cover registration, lodging, and travel; students presenting original work can receive a maximum award up to $700, and students who are attending without presenting original work can receive up to $300.

PhD students can apply for up to two conference grants of up to $700 each during their time at Heller, one pre-proposal approval and one post-proposal approval. Additionally, post-proposal doctoral students may apply for a grant to assist in the final stages of conducting research and writing dissertations. These grants ($3,000 maximum) are intended to help students who have made
substantial progress in their work, and to relieve specific dissertation-related expenses (e.g., transcriptions, travel outside of the Boston area related to collecting data, software purchases, consulting or other direct research costs).

I encourage all eligible students to take advantage of these funds, which are exclusively earmarked for student support. Applying for these funds can help reduce financial stress and provide you with valuable opportunities for your academic and professional development.  Heller Enrichment Funds are just one example of how we support our students at Heller. By providing financial assistance so that students can take advantage of professional opportunities, we ensure that our students have access to the resources they need to succeed.

Happy (Belated) International Women’s Day!

In the spirit of the holiday yesterday, and in honor of women’s history month, I want to share the stories of some of the women at Heller leading the way in improving the lives of women around the world. It goes without saying that Heller is a place to get a world-class education, but these students’ stories remind us that students, faculty, and staff at Heller are also dedicated to driving positive social change and embodying our motto of “Knowledge Advancing Social Justice”.

Six students at the Heller School pose for headshots
Top images, left to right: Ilana Fitzpatrick MPP’24, Ophelia Delali A. Akoto Heller PhD ‘26, Vilma Uribe, Heller PhD’26.
Bottom left to right: Jamie Morgan, Heller PhD’23, Kaitie Chakoian, Heller PhD’24, Hannah Wilcove MPP’23

Ilana Fitzpatrick, MPP’24
Her dream role and plans for after graduation? Creating a nonprofit that provides mobile gynecological services to those in need. “There’s this challenge in finding a gynecologist that doesn’t make patients feel shame. It’s even harder for those living in areas that don’t have access to these services,” said Fitzpatrick. “My goal is to empower those who have historically been oppressed. I feel like it is my responsibility to give back.”

Ophelia Delali A. Akoto, PhD ‘26

“We’re pushing for a society where women have the same opportunity as men,” she said. Through her doctorate program at Heller, she’s looking to better understand women’s economic empowerment, education of girls and racial equity research. “My mentors within the Heller School have shown me how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Akoto. “I’m not even a year into the program, but they’ve already shaped the way I think.”

Jamie Morgan, PhD’23

She chose to attend the Heller School because it provided her with the flexibility to pursue her niche passion for abortion advocacy work. “Working with mentors like Anita Hill, who have this social movement expertise, has been an amazing experience. It’s given me the opportunity to build my own adventure and step into that legacy of social justice… I’m very motivated to study abortion research. Access to reproductive healthcare, especially for women, is one of the most central parts of our lives,” said Morgan. “Our reproductive aspects affect our future. It’s essential for people to be able to decide if and when to have children.”

Read the rest of the profiles of women at Heller advocating for change, and have a happy Women’s History Month!

Plan for an Admitted Student Day

If you’re one of our newly admitted students, congratulations! This is a great achievement, and we are excited to welcome  you to Heller. As a newly admitted student, you’re no doubt wondering what the next steps are, or trying to imagine your life as a Heller student.  To help you make such a big decision, Heller is offering a variety of events just for admitted students, both in-person and virtually, and this blog post, we will explore why we strongly recommend trying to attend one of these events.

Learn More About the Program
While you no doubt researched the Heller School extensively prior to applying, now that you’re admitted, you’ll find that there is more to learn because now there’s more to plan! By attending admitted student events, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about more details of the program. These events, whether in person or online, gives admitted students the chance to learn about the program’s curriculum, research opportunities, experiential learning opportunities, and career services. Having this information early on will help you start to make more informed decisions about your academic and professional goals.

Get to Know Your Future Classmates
Graduate school is not just about academics, it’s also about building your network and forging relationships. During many of these admitted student events, you’ll have the opportunity to start getting to know your future classmates and forming these friendships. You will be spending a significant amount of time with them, so it’s essential to start building relationships early. Having these connections even before the school year begins will allow you to start building a support system that will follow you through your academic journey and into your career.

Meet Your Professors
At the Heller School, our faculty members are not just accomplished academics but also practitioners in their fields. By attending admitted student events, you’ll have the opportunity to meet your future professors, ask them questions, and learn about their research interests. Building relationships with your professors is an important first step to finding a mentor, and admitted student days are a great time to start forging these connections.  This is extremely important, as the faculty members at Heller are able to provide you with valuable guidance throughout your academic and professional career.

Experience the Heller Community
Lastly, attending admitted student events will give you a glimpse into the Heller School’s unique community. The Heller community is diverse, supportive, and passionate about social justice. By attending these events, you will get a sense of our community’s values and culture. At many of these events, you’ll also have the opportunity to hear from current students about their experiences at Heller.

 

 

Reasons to Fall in Love with Heller

Happy Valentine’s Day, blog readers! On this day, where we celebrate love, I want to take a moment to recognize what lies at the root of this community: a genuine belief in the power of people to effect good in the world. In a world that so often feels chaotic or stagnant (or worse, deteriorating), everyone at Heller not only believes that positive change is possible, but are actively working to improve it. Over the past year, our students, alumni, faculty, and staff have done amazing things, so here’s my Valentine to the Heller community: these are some of the reasons why I love Heller.

From July 2021 to June 2022…

  • Heller faculty and director of the Institute for Children, Youth, and Family Policy Dolores Acevedo-Garcia was appointed to the Societal Experts Action Network, a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to bring timely, actionable guidance to the critical and complex questions facing decision-makers.
  • Sandy Ho, MPP’22, co-wrote an article for the Winter 2O22 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Time for Philanthropy to Confront Ableism.” She argues that if philanthropy is to build a more just and equal society, it must combat ableism in its own institutions and practices. Sam Hyun, MPP/MBA’22, was the subject of a Dec. 15, 2O21, profile in The Boston Globe, “Sam Hyun Is Tireless in Amplifying Long Silenced AAPI Voices”.
  • The Master of Public Policy program sponsored a talk by Robert Kuttner, Meyer and Ida Kirstein Professor in Social Planning and Administration, on April 28, 2O22, in which Kuttner discussed his book “Going Big: FDR’s Legacy, Biden’s New Deal, and the Struggle to Save Democracy.”
  • Phillip Aitken, MA COEX’22, Ruya Akar, MA SID/ COEX’22, Gabriella Lanzi, MA SID/COEX’22, and Whitney Wehrle, MA SID/COEX’22, received Boren Awards to further their international and language studies. Making use of these grants, Phillip studied Portuguese in Cabo Verde; Ruya studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan, and Gabriella in Rabat, Morocco; and Whitney continued her studies of Armenian, which she began in country as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2O18.
  • Heller faculty and PhD Alumna Alexandra Piñeros-Shields, PhD’07, was honored at the White House’s Fourth of July Celebration (2O21) for her work in defending the rights of immigrants and promoting humane immigration reform.
  • PhD student Janelle Ridley was quoted in a Sept. 28, 2O21, Boston Globe story about The Run Around, a tabletop game about the juvenile justice system that is designed to be impossible to win.
  • A bill proposed in California (AB-2832) recommended the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy’s Child Opportunity Index as a potential screening tool for collecting data on racial and economic equity in order to provide the state’s highest-need communities with additional investments for early childhood infrastructure and resources.
  • Samantha Berlus, MPP’23, and Armando Vizcardo, MPP’23, were among the recipients of the 2O22 Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship. During the summer of 2O22, Samantha worked with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance and Armando worked in the Massachusetts Office of the Treasurer and Receiver General’s Office of Economic Empowerment.
  • In March 2O22, Heller faculty member Peter Dixon facilitated “Restorative Justice in Concord,” a reconciliation dialogue between a local private school and The Robbins House, a local museum run by interim dean Maria Madison, around the history of slavery in Concord, Massachusetts.
  • Heller faculty Anita Hill’s April 7, 2O22, op-ed, “The Senate Judiciary Committee Mistreated Judge Jackson. I Should Know,” appeared in The Washington Post.

Heller 2023 Winter Highlights

Every quarter, my colleagues in Heller Communications put out a new issue of the Heller magazine, and at the risk of sounding like a bit of a dweeb, I always read it cover to cover. Although I would say that Heller is better than a lot of workplaces at fostering community, there’s always so much going on that it’s hard to keep up with what everyone else in the building is up to. The Heller Magazine always does a great job highlighting interesting stories from students, alumni, faculty, and even giving a bit of Heller history. Some of my favorite articles from issues past include Beyond “Do no harm”The Best Lessons I Learned at Heller: Alumni share stories about their favorite professors, and 2020 asks us: If not now, when?.

When I came into the office on Tuesday, I was so excited to see the Winter 2023 issue in my mailbox, and have spent the last few days reading it cover to cover. You can find the full accessible PDF here, but I wanted to highlight some of my favorite articles from this issue.

Championing Social Justice – Although all of this article, which focuses on the initiatives that Interim Dean Maria Madison has implemented since stepping into the role last summer, I though the section that focuses on Heller graduates’ career outcomes was particularly interesting. Of Heller graduating class this year, an impressive 98% were employed, pursuing graduate studies, or had received competitive fellowships within six months of collecting their Heller diplomas. Our Interim Assistant Dean of Career Development, Jasmine Waddell, attributes this in part to the connections students forge while at Heller, ““The entire community is dedicated to advancing the professional development and employment outcomes for our extraordinary students. It’s not just our office — faculty in all seven programs bring in employers as guest speakers to connect the academic content to career opportunities.” In my role in admissions, I often find that many students are interested in taking classes and even whole programs online, but I think that really ignores a crucial aspect of graduate school: the ability to forge connections. As someone who earned a Master’s degree through an in-person program and is currently enrolled in an online program: an online program simply cannot compare to an in-person program when it comes to expanding your network, and I think this article really underscores something I knew but hadn’t articulated to myself: how crucial forming real world connections is to getting ahead.

Stand-out quote: “Waddell’s team runs a wealth of programs, both virtual and in person, designed to connect students with potential employers. There’s an annual career fair, now offered virtually, and a Career Trek to Washington, D.C., among other initiatives. Through the MBA Board Fellows Program, MBA students are invited to serve as nonvoting members of nonprofit boards, giving them hands-on experience and a rare window into the inner workings of organizations.

The Power of Girls’ Education – This article immediately caught my eye as a graduate of a women’s college, and it didn’t disappoint. Learning about how Beatriz Pleités, MA SID’23, spent her practicum working as a development and communications intern at SEGA Girls’ Secondary School in Morogoro, Tanzania, was so interesting– and how amazing that she learned Swahili during an internship! This article gets a lot of points from me for the feel good factor, and also the adorable photos of the children at the school.

Stand-out quote: “I come from a developing country myself, but when one of the students sought my advice after her parents asked her to get married, I realized how different my adolescence was from theirs,”  Beatriz says.

Yuqi Wang, MBA/MPP’20 : Fostering equity in Kendall Square’s business center – Kendall Square is one of my favorite areas in Boston, but I’ve never thought of all the work that goes into making the neighborhood so charming. Reading this article about the work that one of our recent MBA/MPP graduates does in her role for the Kendal Square Association was so interesting. Yuqi leads programs related to diversity, equity and inclusion, corporate responsibility and community impact, including the Inclusion Drives Innovation program, which focuses on helping participants develop the tools to improve intersectionality. It’s always so interesting to learn about the impactful and interesting work that students go on to do after the graduate, and Yuqi is certainly no exception!

Stand-out quote: ““It all comes down to power at the end of the day, and programming and policy are two sides of the same coin,” Wang says. “When you’re trying to think of how [you] can be a change agent on an individual level, there is a lot of potential in programs to push people and companies forward to change policies. I find that very fulfilling and very cool.”

I’m Admitted, Now What: Choosing the Right Program

Deciding what graduate programs to apply to is hard enough. But deciding what school to attend after you’ve received multiple offers? That can feel almost impossible. Today, I’d like to share some tips to help you choose which graduate school to attend. 

Get your facts straight. Even though you most likely did a significant amount of research when choosing which schools to apply to, now’s the time to dig even deeper. Many programs host Admitted Student Days, or connect accepted prospective students to current students or faculty members in other ways. Take advantage of this opportunity, and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask current students what their cost of living is, how available faculty are outside of classroom hours, and what their workload is. Ask faculty what mentorship opportunities exist, what their current research projects are, and what their expectations of their students are. Try to get a feel for what the environment of the program is: is it more collaborative or competitive? What activities are available to students outside of classes? What are the relationships between students and faculty like? Remember that there are no right answers; only what would fit you best. 

Compare financial aid packages. Take a close look at the financial aid packages you’ve been offered. Some packages cover fees, while others don’t. Similar programs can vary in length, so a longer program may end up costing more in the long run, even if they’ve given you a higher scholarship. Some packages or stipends are contingent on being a teaching or research assistant, so factor that in as well. If you live out of state, you might also want to consider the cost of traveling home to visit family during your time in the program. The College Board has a great tool for comparing different financial aid packages, although it is intended for undergraduate programs, so you’ll need to substitute estimated living expenses for room and board, and you’ll want to factor in the length of the program as well. 

Weigh your options. For some students, it comes down to a gut decision. But for the more indecisive among us, it can be helpful to create a spreadsheet that takes into account your priorities. Here’s a sample one that I made to help illustrate this, but remember, the weight that you give each category is totally up to you, and you may have other priorities that I didn’t even list.

College A College B
Factor Score Weight Weighted Score Factor Score Weight Weighted Score
Research Opportunities 10 10% 1 Research Opportunities 9 10% 0.9
Community Feel 6 10% 0.6 Community Feel 8 10% 0.8
Academic Rigor 8 40% 3.2 Academic Rigor 6 40% 2.4
Cost 9 30% 2.7 Cost 7 30% 2.1
Student Life 8 10% 0.8 Student Life 5 10% 0.5

By adding the weighted scores together, you should get a total out of ten. In this example, College A scores an 8.3 out of 10, while College B gets a 6.7. Looks like School A is the place for me!

How to Tell if Heller Might NOT be for You

Many graduate schools will tell you why their school is the best place for you, but today I thought I’d do something a little differently. This is a little unorthodox, but bear with me: today I’ve put together how to know if Heller might not be the best place for you.

Heller might not be the right fit for you if…

  1. You’re comfortable with the status quo. At Heller, the students, faculty, and staff are all committed to promoting social justice and creating a better world. This passion and drive can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you’re content with the way things are now. Our commitment to making the world a better place is reflected in everything we do at Heller: from our motto to the curriculum, from the research being done in our institutes to the student organizations and events. We strive to create an atmosphere at Heller that inspires and challenges our students, and if you’re not open to that type of environment, it might not be the right fit for you.
  2. You’re already completely satisfied in your career.  Although many of our students come to us having already accomplished great things, if you’re entirely satisfied in your job right now, you might not find the opportunities at Heller to be particularly appealing. At Heller, we work hard to make sure that our students go on to do great things. Our curricula are designed to equip students with both the theoretical knowledge and the hands on tools that will allow them grow and develop professionally, and to enable them to pursue careers that make a positive impact. Our Career Development Center also provides resources, workshops, and one-on-one coaching appointments to help students reach their personal and professional goals. In other words, at Heller, we don’t just care about your success while you’re in school: we’re looking further, to the next five, ten and twenty years after you graduate. If you’re already in a job that you love, and you’re not looking for new opportunities or challenges, the opportunities that Heller offers to grow your career might not be up your alley.
  3. You’re not comfortable being a part of a dynamic community. Heller students come from all walks of life: the person sitting next to you in class might be a optometrist from Nigeria in the United States for the first time, an active duty National Guard service member who will be getting on a helicopter later that day to help put out wildfires, or a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated from their post during the COVID epidemic. These experiences make for a diverse classroom atmosphere, and students come to Heller because they’re passionate about the causes they care about. That combination often means that classroom discussions are full of healthy, respectful debate, and if you’re not comfortable in a dynamic environment, you might find that you feel out of place. Additionally, the focus on social justice at Heller means that there are many discussions  aimed at creating a more inclusive and supportive community, and if you’re not comfortable with this type of atmosphere, you might find it difficult to thrive at Heller.

Like I said– a little unorthodox, but as I hope I’ve made clear, Heller is all about doing things a little bit differently. If any of the things I’ve listed above apply to you, then the Heller School for Social Policy and Management might not be the best fit for you. But if you’re excited about growing your career while challenging the status quo in a collaborative community working towards a common goal of making the world a better place, Heller is the place to be.

The Waiting Game

With the first round deadline behind us, many applicants may find themselves with a lot more extra time… to worry. What if I don’t get in? How will I manage a move in eight months? How much will it cost?

I won’t lie: anxiety can definitely get the best of me. One sign that something might be wrong is sometimes enough to send me into a spiral, so I get it. It’s tempting to tell myself that the anxiety is somehow productive, that by thinking through every possible worst-case scenario, I’m actually preparing myself for said bad outcome, or that by imagining the worst-case scenario, I’m somehow preventing it. But the truth is, worrying about something completely out of my hands has no impact on the situation, and if I ever actually do get the bad news I was anticipating, I’m still just as upset. All I’ve really done is make the intervening days, or weeks, or months just a little bit worse for myself. Trust me when I say: I’ve been there, and I get it. But I’ve also learned a little bit about how to manage anxious thoughts during stressful situations, so with that in mind, I want to share a few tips to manage your anxiety during this time.

1. Channel your nervous energy. Have you been catching yourself refreshing your email for hours on end? Chewing your nails down to the quick? Tapping your foot so long it wears a hole in your carpet? While some people shut down when they’re anxious, other people find themselves absolutely bursting with energy. Find a way to redirect this energy, like taking a long walk while listening to a podcast or doing a quick work-out in your living room to let off some steam. You can also put that energy to a productive use by writing a thank you email to your recommenders or by engaging in some volunteer work (which will look great on any future graduate school or job applications).

2. Indulge in smart self-care. Self care doesn’t always look like giving yourself permission to eat that entire gallon of ice cream (although sometimes it certainly can!). Take this time to indulge in self-care that actually makes you feel good and energized afterwards, like taking a bath, meditating, calling a loved one, getting coffee or dinner with a close friend, treating yourself to a healthy new recipe (whether you make it yourself or order take-out), or taking yourself out on a movie or museum date.

3. Put things in perspective. Imagine the absolute worst-case scenario: you’re rejected from every single school you’ve applied to. What then? I don’t mean to downplay the feelings of rejection and sadness that receiving a denial can induce, but at the end of the day, it truly isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t even mean you won’t ever go to grad school. Sometimes when you think the universe is saying “No”, it’s really only saying “Not yet”. You can spend the next year making sure you’re prepared for the next round of applications, and you’ll have a head-start on everyone applying for the first time.

4. Take break from social media. There’s nothing worse than taking a break from relentlessly refreshing your email only to go onto Instagram and be immediately confronted with someone else’s post about their acceptance. Especially if a lot of people in your immediate circle are going through the same process as you, consider taking a break, or at least setting limitations for yourself when it comes to social media. By the way, this goes double for sites like GradCafe, CollegeConfidential, or Reddit discussion boards. Remember: everyone’s situation is unique, and trying to “hack” the application process by following the tips that worked for a stranger on the internet is unlikely to actually pay off.

5. Put an embargo on app-talk. Everyone has that one great-aunt is probably just dying to tell you about how her friend’s sister’s son-in-law got into every single graduate school with a full ride. Get out ahead of it by giving a quick update, setting a boundary, and moving the conversation along (“There are a couple of schools I’m excited to hear back from, but I don’t want to talk about graduate school when I have all this delicious food in front of me. Aunt Betsy, tell me more about how your vacation was?”). The same tip goes for your friends, even if they’re in the same boat as you. Set aside ten minutes at the top of the gathering to compare notes, and then change the subject.

Facing Your Capstone Presentation

Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX'24 headshot

Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX’24

Most graduate students are busy finishing their classes, dealing with projects, and preparing for graduation. Most importantly, many of our graduate students are preparing the requirement that essentially allows them to walk in the graduation ceremony and obtain their degree: their a capstone project. Many of the graduate programs at Heller also require students to do an internship, practicum, field research, or thesis paper. The good thing is that the Executive Director of the Global Programs at Heller is very flexible with whatever you choose, making our graduate life much easier. After completing the capstone project, students must present it in person or virtually.

However, before we jump to talking about presenting the capstone project, you should know that students must take many different steps before they’re ready to present their capstone project, and that those steps could vary for each student. As a dual degree student majoring in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence and Sustainable International Development, I will share my experiences and journey in how and why I chose to do what I did and what I learned from it. It was during my second semester in graduate school, around February 2022 that I started thinking about different internships for my practicum. An ideal timeline is like this: completing an internship or any project during the summer and writing a report about my internship experiences in the fall semester. So, I started thinking about different organizations, researching their missions and visions to see if they aligned with my interest, and began sorting through the opportunities. Then, I thought of the Jesuit Refugee Service, a non-profit organization in Thailand that serves refugees. I remember the organization’s involvement in refugee education, especially for the Karenni (if you have not heard about Karenni, it is an ethnic group from Myanmar). I contacted the organization’s director and shared my background and interest. He then asked for my resume, and after that, he agreed to let me work with the organization over the summer on Peace and Reconciliation’s peacebuilding project. The Jesuit Refugee Service’s peacebuilding essentially focuses on rebuilding relationships and building the capacity to face difficulties.

I spent three months in Thailand researching the peacebuilding project and organized a training centered on peacebuilding through education. I utilized education to build peace by educating the Karenni and Karenni refugees about ways to tackle conflicts and skills that enable them to create the right relationships between themselves. While interning with JRS, I completed my peacebuilding project called “Peacebuilding through Education”. After completing my three-month project, I returned to Heller to continue my Sustainable International Development degree. As a SIDCO, I had the option to present in May; however, since my project was funded by the peace award from Marice Kapf Hahn, I had to present my completed project before the year ended.

I’ll admit that this timeline was less than ideal and at times I felt rushed, or felt like did not have enough time to put everything together, since I was also working on writing the report/thesis paper. However, one very helpful thing for me was to have a daily schedule planned out every week. For example, I set aside 30 minutes on Sunday to plan for the week, including what I wanted to accomplish each day. As a result, I managed to finish both the thesis paper and presentation in two months! Looking back, it was a wild ride. I could not believe I had managed to complete a 40-page of report/thesis paper and 15 slides of the presentation within two months, but the experience was worth it. I also learned to manage my stress and time and prioritize what’s important and not important.

If you thought that was a lot, remember that I still had to present the presentation I had prepared. For the actual presentation, you only need to put together seven Powerpoint slides, present for ten minutes, and give ten minutes for a question and answer session. I was very nervous about my presentation, but a little practice before the actual presentation was very helpful, so my advice is to practice presenting the day before the actual presentation.

Now that I finished my capstone project, I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am excited to finish up my last semester and graduate!

« Older posts

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)