Author: hplumb

Succeeding in a Class out of my Comfort Zone

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

When I made the decision to come to Brandeis, one of the things I loved about Heller was the variety of classes available. There’s quantitative classes, qualitative classes, policy classes, and theoretical classes on ethics and more! One thing I promised myself when I started here was that I would make an effort to take some classes outside of my comfort zone. My background being in communications, I wanted to get some more experience with the research and data side of things.

With that in mind, I signed up for Professor Godoy’s Survey Design class in module 1. I was really worried about this class and doing well, but I decided to sign up for it anyways to learn a new skill. It was an online class, which was definitely something I had to get used to. I had to employ specific strategies to make sure I continued paying attention throughout the entire class, such as taking breaks to walk around, eat something and drink something.

In this class, you learn about how to create an ideal survey for a project. You learn about different biases that can occur both when selecting survey participants and interviewing them. You also learn about measurement errors when creating your hypothesis and designing your equation.  All of these were things I did not have experience in, so I was coming into the class completely blind.

However, now having finished the class, I can say I’m really glad that I took it. I really enjoyed the experience of getting to design my very own survey with a group and getting to apply all that I learned and put it into practice. While it was challenging, I was still able to succeed. Whenever I was confused, I made sure to ask the professor or the TA to clear up my confusion. Being able to see all the concepts at work in real life really helped to depend my understanding and it made the class less challenging in my opinion. I also feel that by the end of the class, I really gained a deeper understanding of what makes a good survey and of more mathematical terms in general.

In conclusion, take that class you’re nervous about! It can expand your skillset and even unleash a greater passion for the subject than you thought was possible.

A Letter to My Future Self (to read upon graduation)

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

Hey Future Hannah,

You just graduated Heller with a Master’s of Arts in Sustainable International Development. You’re now officially: Hannah, M.A. How does it feel? I hope you are feeling incredibly proud of yourself, and taking time to acknowledge your achievements. Despite your worries and stress, you managed to finish it all! Even those quantitative classes, the economics classes and your Master’s thesis you were so worried about; you did it! Take a deep breath, and do something to celebrate! If you’re anything like current Hannah, you’ll probably go out for a celebratory ice cream.

My current question is what’s next for you? Are you taking some time off to travel (hopefully in a covid safe world)? Are you going straight into your career? Decided to do another graduate degree (take a breather girl!)? Whatever it may be, I do hope you give yourself a little time in between graduation and your next steps. If you decided to go the career path, I am so curious which route you ended up going down. With an NGO? A nonprofit? I know current Hannah is wanting to graduate a gender professional– did that dream become a reality? Whatever you decide to do, I know it will be great regardless.

I know that you’ve already done the hard part, but just a few thoughts from your past self. I hope you challenged yourself in grad school- took lots of classes in new subjects and tried new things. I hope you gave yourself grace when you were juggling so many things, and maybe could not put as much focus on projects as you’d like. I hope you always made time for self-care and hanging out with friends. And, I hope you made the most of your time here at Heller. Because believe it or not, it’s now over and you’re onto the next great thing.

Best,

Hannah

Hello Heller! Hannah Plumb’s Acceptance Story

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

I distinctly remember when I got my acceptance letter from Heller. I was at a friend’s house, watching Bridgerton and unwinding from an exceptionally long work week. I heard my phone ding from an email notification and I excitedly pulled up the email. I held my breath while pulling up the page and waited for the response to appear…accepted!!

I yelled in excitement and my friend and I paused the show to get hype about it. We had a drink and some chocolate chip cookies to celebrate— might not seem like much, but I was incredibly excited. The journey to graduate school had been a bit of a tumultuous one for me .

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Communications, I was incredibly burnt out from school and unlike most of my friends, decided I wanted to work for a while before going back to school. I enrolled in the Peace Corps and was planning on spending the next two years of my life learning about Indonesian culture and the development world— COVID had other plans, however.

When I got evacuated from Peace Corps, I had no idea what to do. The plan I’d had for my life was suddenly in pieces. I took a random job at a COVID testing site to get back on my feet, and started reevaluating my next steps. I knew that I wanted to stay in the realm of nonprofit work and that I wanted to have an international focus. I started applying for jobs in these areas but was having little luck since several of them required Master’s degrees or more experience (and we were in the pandemic— the job market wasn’t great).

From there, I decided to look at the Heller school, and immediately it intrigued me. I loved the focus on social justice, the diversity of the student body, the interdisciplinary skills it focused on, and the practicality of the program. It was different than most of the other programs I’d looked at, and best of all, it had an incredible financial aid package too. That made it so much more affordable!

After talking to another Peace Corps volunteer who had gone to Heller, my decision was set. If they accepted me, that’s where I would be going. And lucky for me, they did, so here I am at Heller now 🙂

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