Tag: Classes at Heller (page 1 of 5)

Ronunique’s Final Semester Schedule

Ronunique Clark, MPP'23 headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Welcome back! How long has it been? Seems like it was forever ago when I wrote my first blog post for the Heller Admissions Blog. I blinked, and now we are in the final semester of my Master of Public Policy program.  “Oh yeah, you made it, you made it”, just like Teyana Taylor said.  So with graduation being about 100 days away, let’s chat about the classes I will be taking this semester to wrap up the Master of Public Policy Program:

Capstone Seminar with Mary Brolin

This is the most important class I will be registered for in my entire academic career here at Heller. The capstone seminar course is designed for students to highlight the policy analysis skills that we have developed throughout our time here.  We generally choose a topic that is relevant to our concentration; having a topic in close proximity with your concentration makes it easier to obtain background knowledge to the policy area and any relevant literature. After determining our topic, we develop action plans to help us conduct our research, literature reviews to diagnose our policy problem, and weigh out the pros and cons for potential policy solutions. By the end of the course, we should have a 25-30 page policy brief, and in the final week of classes, we have a oral presentation on our policy brief.  What makes me excited for this course is the opportunity to showcase the policies I am passionate about and what I  believe to be potential policy solutions.  Bet you want to know what I choose for my topic, huh? Seems like you will have to come to capstone presentations to find it out 😉

Public Finance with Sakshi Jain

This course focuses on the facts and analytical tools to help us determine and understand the theory behind public spending. Some of the focus questions for this course are: what is public spending? When can public spending be too little or too much? Is public spending properly allocated among competing uses and levels of government? As we navigate these questions we will be responsible for producing two blog posts (will I ever be able to escape writing blogs?), a group presentation with a policy brief on a tax policy of interest, and a final funding proposal which will be an extension of our group presentation and policy brief.  I am hoping to leave this class with more knowledge on how we decide on public finance, like: what measures do we use? How do we develop these measures? Who has the final say? I plan to be a sponge in this class and soak up all the knowledge that I can, because a public finance class for a policy student can either make or break you.

Social Experimentation in Children, Youth, and Family Policymaking with Dolores Acevedo Garcia

This course provides a graduate level introduction to the use of social experimentation methods in policy research. When I first saw that this course was up for registration, I actually said, “Ooooh!”.  Honestly, who doesn’t love a course where you can learn how to critically assess policy content, design, results and recommendations, especially when it is social policy focused? We will cover the five basic elements of social experiments (research questions, experimental design, measurement methods, implementation, and interpretation of results) through case studies. We will be responsible for producing an in class policy review, which will serve as our midterm for the course, a non-comprehensive systematic review, and a non-comprehensive review of reviews. I feel this course will really challenge my critical thinking and writing skills in order to help me understand how to design experimental studies to assess the effects of social policies.

Child and Family Policy with Marji Warfield

We have only been back in school for two weeks but I would say this course is starting to become my favorite. The course is organized in three sections: (1) a focus on discussing the definition of family, family functions, and family challenges, in addition to examining the emergence of family policies and how families with diverse identities intersect with different human service systems; (2) family policies designed to support family functions assessing this through policy models on problem definition and policy solutions in conjunction with theoretical frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and (3) implementation challenges and dilemmas will be investigated through the use of a policy implementation framework and family policy themes. In the class we will be responsible for producing three written papers (a fact sheet, a problem definition and policy solutions, and policy implementation), a individual presentation, and participate in share sessions which are connected to our in class book clubs. What I enjoy the most so far in this class is how we are able to engage with the materials assigned and be able to have open and honest conversations about what families look like. We are able to connect to the material on our personal experiences but not for it to be overpowering of our end goal of effective policy making and solutions.

I am looking forward to wrapping up my final semester here at Heller this year with these final core and concentration required courses I hope to have developed a sustainably and transferable work portfolio. Will we make it to the finish line? Stay tuned!

Brief Reflections on my First Semester at Heller

Calah McQuarters, MBA'23 headshot

Calah McQuarters, MBA’23

This past Wednesday I submitted my last paper to complete my first semester of graduate school around 11:30 pm (yes, I procrastinated). After pressing “submit”, an overwhelming feeling of nausea came over me. Partially because I was second guessing if I listed all of my sources in the bibliography, but partially because while I had been clawing my way to the finish line of the semester since Thanksgiving, I didn’t expect it to come so soon. I hear more and more these days how it feels like time is always flying. Hours are turning into minutes and minutes to seconds. As I sit 4 months removed from when I first arrived in Waltham, I can certainly say it feels like I just got here yesterday. But now that readings and assignments are on pause until the new year, I want to take time to reflect on my learning experience during my first semester at Heller.

When I first began thinking about going to school for an MBA, my excitement was matched by my fear. Not having come from a business background, I didn’t know if I had the expertise needed to know the material I was going to school to study for. Turns out, I was right. Of course I didn’t! In my first class of the semester, Financial Reporting and Analysis, I arrived early, sat in the front, and listened earnestly to the professor, understanding 99% of what she was explaining. I left feeling on top of the world, ready to breeze through my time at Heller. Fast forward to my second class, Economic Analysis for Managers, I repeated the same process. I arrived early, sat in the front, and listened earnestly to the professor. Except this time, I promise she was speaking an entirely different language. By no fault of her own, no matter how many times she explained the material, the neuro pathways in my brain refused to allow the new information in front of me to sink in. I left that class, called my mother, and said plainly, “I think I’m dumb”, laughing but really wanting to cry. Over the next hour, my mother and I broke down that statement and I came to the realization that I in fact wasn’t dumb, I just didn’t know this new thing I never studied before. Now, you might be reading this thinking, “duh Calah! Of course you’re not going to know what you’ve never learned before”. But honestly, somewhere in the time between being accepted into graduate school and actually starting graduate school, I created this unrealistic expectation of knowing all I needed to know before I learned it. This semester reminded me that it is okay not to know everything (it’s actually unrealistic). Instead of obsessing over what I didn’t know in the beginning, I chose to be intentional and diligent about learning over time so I could be a little wiser in the end. I read, studied, worked with classmates, and talked to professors to ensure I was gaining all I could. It’s funny to remember that call, especially now that I understand the time value of money (look at me using econ terms 😉 ). But I am grateful for the patience and grace I offered myself then and in many more moments along this semester. To anyone thinking about applying to something you’ve never done or learned before, do it! The process may be scary and there will likely be moments you feel a little dumb, but what you learn and gain in the end is always so worth it! It has been for me. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a couple of lines to acknowledge a source of so much laughter and happiness during my first semester: my cohort. I am grateful for the experiences shared, heartfelt moments had, friendships formed, and events planned (shoutout to the Boston Commons crew) thus far. And I am so excited to continue to grow together and make more memories over the next year. 

One semester down, three more to go. 

Meet My Cohort: Brian Stanley

Ronunique Clark, MPP'23 headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Are you guys still with me in this mini blog series of Meet My Cohort? I hope you are! Huge thank you to Hannah Wilcove for stepping into the admissions blog room. Next up in this series is truly one of my favorite cohort mates in this program. Super honored to be able to sit down and chat with Brian Stanley. Brian is 25 years old, from Clifton Park, New York, and in 2019 he graduated from Boston University (hey fellow Terrier) with a bachelors in Political Science and minor in Sociology. He is currently a 2nd year Master of Public Policy candidate concentrating in Environmental Justice.

 What did you do before coming to Heller?

Brian Stanley, MPP’23

Before Heller I was working at the AIDS Action Committee, which was a branch of Fenway Health. I was working as a high-need, low-income HIV case manager for Essex County, basically everything above Boston. I had a case load of about 50 people and I was the only arm of Fenway there, so I was living in Salem for two years: I started this job in 2019 and left in 2021 before starting this program. In addition to this, I was also working in food service at the time, largely because being a case manager doing social service work with a bachelors degree isn’t the greatest pay, and living in Salem, you wouldn’t be able to live off just that. Aside from the difficulty in having to work two jobs, they were both fulfilling opportunities  and both of these experiences informed my route today. It was different crowds of people administratively, professionally, and socially.

Why did you choose Heller?

I applied to a lot of programs and this was one of the few policy programs I applied to.  I felt between the faculty and Heller’s messaging that even if the experience was not going to be what I expected it to be, that there  would be people here with the same interests in environmental, social justice and equity.  Prioritizing these interests in different ways, so even if the program wasn’t what I expected it to be I knew the connections and network I would build will still be a solid motivation to continue on in the program. Like the other programs I was applying for I did not think their messaging was on point enough, their diversity statements and program directors did not have that same inclusive language, and I mean it could all be a front, but I think people who would be attractive to these certain elements in a program are the people I would vibe with. I also looked at Heller’s institutes which demonstrated their values and that someone here wasn’t just doing the talk but also walking the walk.  I felt like that was another green flag, once again even if the program wasn’t what I expected, I knew there were faculty, staff, and students doing the work is what I can vibe with.

What is your favorite class at Heller? 

I hate to be a repeat to Hannah, but my favorite class was Policy Approaches to Gender Based Violence taught by Kaitie Chakoian. The course was really phenomenal: it broke down real complex human concepts around violence,  recovery, and healing in ways that were both accessible and still human. I feel some of the other courses here have difficulty translating what it means to be worthy of justice, integrity, and human value to something we can understand. Then we end up in language of federalism when we could be in the language of human terms, but Kaitie really broke down concepts well, she was engaging, and she provide extensive feedback on assignments, which I think highlighted her excellence and commitment to excellence. Super phenomenal and probably my favorite.

What was your most challenging class at Heller?

Thinking about this I break into two categories. I think for me, first, it would be Practicing Social Justice Philanthropy: Purpose, Practice, and Problems taught by Celeste Reid Lee and Sheryl Seller class directly out of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy. It was intellectually challenging because I did not know anything from this field: I did not understand how philanthropy can relate to social justice, or even if philanthropy could relate to social justice. I thought the speakers were phenomenal but I did find the course to be challenging because of the materials. However, the instructors from the Sillerman Center were amazing in the way they coordinated the course, feedback on material, and really broke down a lot of the concepts. For me, another layer of challenging is a course I am taking right now, which is Environmental and Climate Justice taught by Prakash Kashwan. It is actually a undergraduate class I am taking. The reason why this class is challenging is because its a undergraduate course, and the instructor is working to engage meaningfully with everyone, who are all from different academic levels, and the assignment structures are very different. It’s a lot of reading response, with week to week assignments, which in some ways it becomes  regurgitating information instead of synthesizing it so its a completely different flow. He is integrating some elements of graduate courses such as take home exam options to synthesize material and the way he teaches information is wonderful and his linkages of decolonization, capitalism, and climate change is astounding. He himself is great but the structure of the course is what I find challenging.

What are your plans after Heller? 

I think I’m going to work on deciding between a career in research versus a career in something on the ground. I do not have anything concrete yet I have been applying though! These are all opportunities to say the least, eventually I may want to pursue a PhD,  but I have to really nail down what is worth doing with the limit time that I do have. So for me that is trying to figure out where do my moral and ethics align, because I know ultimately they align with community, justice, and equity, but I have to figure out my role in that conversation. It reminds me of the quote  from Audre Lorde, “the masters tools will never dismantles the master’s house” and so like how do you embody that with a masters degree in public policy, right? I have no idea, but I am really excited to find out what that looks like and surrounding myself with people who are dealing with these questions.

Any advice you would like to give prospective students? 

It is very critical to give yourself to give yourself as many options as you can because things that you decide are worth doing are worth doing and no matter what decision you’re making, you will think something else may be worth it differently. I think committing yourself to principle of what you want  to do and what you want to be are fundamental to succeeding anywhere. So giving yourself the most options, applying to every program, speaking to faculty, and dealing with research is what I would say is the best choice. The worst thing you could do is do one thing and feel trapped. That’s how you lose drive in a program or drive in future decision. Give yourself space to fail, there is literally no one at this school or in this program that has been committed to something 100% percent and all the time. When it comes down to it, you need to be more committed to what those principles are, even if its just making more money in the future, you need to decide if its worth it. That’s my two cents.

Thank you Brian, for stepping into the admission blog room, it is always a pleasure to have a conversation with you! What a fulfilling way to now lead us into a brief intermission of my mini blog series “Meet My Cohort”, but don’t worry I will be back with some more of my classmates and their stories.

Meet My Cohort: Hannah Wilcove

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Who’s ready for the next blog in my “Meet My Cohort” mini blog series? I am, so I hope you all are too. Last week we kicked off the series with Katherine Gagen, our future philanthropist in policy, and this week I am introducing you all to Hannah Wilcove! Hannah is 25 years old from Rockville, Maryland, and she graduated from University of Maryland- Baltimore County, where she majored in Women’s and Gender studies with a minor in Sociology. She is currently a 2nd year MPP student concentrating in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

What did you do before coming to Heller?

I graduated from undergrad in 2019, and later that year, I joined a state senate race in Virginia because their state senate races are always in the off year. I then stayed on political campaigns throughout the 2020 election cycle.

Hannah Wilcove, MPP’23

Why did you choose Heller? 

To speak about grad school more broadly, I realized that working on political campaigns and getting people elected was great and all, but I really wanted to focus more on what candidates did after we elected them. Once candidates get into office, what legislation and policies do they pass? I began looking at programs in public affairs and public administration and I quickly realized that the MPP had what I really wanted to focus in on was that aspect of public policy. Even though there are a lot of great public policy schools in the D.C. area, I chose Heller because first, I wanted to get out of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area, since I have spent my entire life there.  Second, which is the bigger reason, is that I was very picky in the schools I was applying for, and I wanted schools that really focused on the human aspect and I loved Heller’s commitment to advancing social justice. I did not want to go to a school where all I did was learn economics and statistics and still teach a philosophy of policy that is still pretty white-male dominated, led, and influenced. I wanted a place where I be able to talk about gender, race, sexuality and talk about all kinds of different people that policy affects.

What is your favorite class at Heller?

Anyone who has spent more then two seconds with me knows the answer to this. My favorite class here at Heller is Policy Approaches to Gender Based Violence, taught by Kaitie Chakoian. She is able to create an environment where people feel safe and comfortable to discuss these extremely difficult topics. She is just incredible at moderating a classroom and facilitating a learning environment, which sounds like a bunch of buzzwords and academic jargon, but it really does matter when you are talking about difficult, personal, and traumatic topics like gender based violence. Having someone who knows how to teach and lead with empathy is really important.

What is your most challenging class at Heller?

I think for this, I want to say it was Policy Analysis, taught by Michael Doonan, because, one, the field of policy analysis is so broad that there were a lot of different elements to cover. In addition to that,  this class had the biggest variety of assignments.

What are your plans after Heller? 

I am still figuring this out! I am really open to a lot of different options. I know I want to go back into the work force and that I do not want to pursue a PhD because I really want to be out in the field. Something I been looking into is more lobbying and advocacy work, because that is an avenue that will allow me to lean into the areas I am incredible passionate about and voice my support for specific policies without having to tone it down, which you might have to in other roles or organizations. That is not to say I am not willing to do government work, but I think that being an advocate is something that really plays to my strengths and being able to do that professionally with the knowledge that I gained from this program would be a good fit for me.

Any advice you would like to give to prospective students? 

I will say this to any graduate student, yes, classes are important, but also remember that you are still human. It is not healthy to just focus on the schoolwork side of things, you also need to and deserve to live, make new friends and spend time with them, making sure that you are eating and sleeping, and really prioritizing your mental health.  You are going to hear a lot of people paying lip service to that, but figuring out what actions you can take to really preserve your mental health and find joy while navigating graduate school is going to make the process a lot better. Another thing I would like to mention is something that is great about Heller: this is not the kind of competitive environment that you might find in other schools or programs. I know when my sister was going through her law school process, she was warned how competitive it was but that is not the case here at Heller.  It’s not that we don’t encourage each other to do our best and to be our best, but the people you meet here are incredibly supportive and are your collaborators, not your competitors.

Can we get a little commotion for the last quote: “It’s not that we don’t encourage each other to do our best and to be our best, but the people you meet here are incredibly supportive and are your collaborators, not your competitors”? What a strong way to close out a student interview! Thank you so much Hannah for stepping into the admissions blog room! Stay tuned for the next student feature in “Meet My Cohort” .

Andy’s Second Year Fall Schedule

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

On August 25th, I will officially be starting my second – and final – year of graduate school. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed so quickly! As a dual degree student, my schedule this fall looks a lot different from my single degree peers. 

In the Social Impact MBA, the courses follow a strict sequence. Through this format, the concepts build on each other as we progress through the course load. It also means that we go through the core courses together as a cohort, building a strong sense of camaraderie along the way. In contrast, the design of the MA in Sustainable International Development (SID) program has a bit more flexibility and freedom. While students are required to take courses in required subject matter (Gender, Economics, Ethics, and Environment), students have a selection of courses they can choose from to fulfill these requirements. SID students also have the freedom to choose in what order they take these courses. This greater ability to tailor your schedule also means that you are less likely to be in class with the same students course after course. I’ve found that I need to be a lot more intentional when it comes to building relationships with students in my SID cohort. Another distinction between the MBA and MA-SID course design is the length of courses. MBA courses are almost entirely full semester, meaning students are able to get very deep and granular with the material. In contrast, most SID courses are modules – essentially half-semester courses. This means SID students are able to get exposed to many more topics, but are unable to do the kind of deep-dive that is possible in a semester-length course. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other – it’s all about maximizing the advantages inherent in each program.

This semester, my classes primarily meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 9:00-11:50am. Earlier in the week, I will be taking the final two classes of my MBA degree – Human Resources Management and Evaluation for Managers (a module course). When Evaluation for Managers comes to an end mid-way through the semester, I will start Applied Cost-Benefit Analysis for Development Practitioners. I’ll also have a Friday afternoon class and, in the second half of the semester, I’ll have a Wednesday evening course. My Friday courses are Gender and the Environment in the morning followed by Ethics, Rights, and Development in the afternoon from 2:20-5:10pm. My Wednesday evening course will be an Introduction to GIS and will take place from 6:30-9:20pm – I may need to become a coffee drinker to make it through! 

The biggest difference between this fall semester and my first fall semester is that I will also be interning with the Social Innovation Forum! Since MBA students complete their capstone projects in the summer between their first and second years, students have the option of completing a part-time internship in their second fall. Although it’s not required, an internship is a great experiential learning and networking opportunity. Students who complete a fall internship receive both academic credit AND a stipend. The time commitment for the internship is about 10 hours a week and many, at the moment, are done partly or entirely remotely. My internship with the Social Innovation Forum (SIF) will involve research support for the organization’s new national leadership initiative. I’m looking forward to learning more about SIF’s approach to social change and networking building among nonprofit practitioners. Overall, I’m really satisfied with my fall course schedule and am excited for this next leg of my graduate school journey to begin. 

Daniella’s Got a New Job!

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

As I’m writing this, it is my last day with Heller Admissions. I graduated with my Master of Public Policy degree on May 22, 2022 and have been lucky to continue working for admissions while I job search. Well, search no further! As of August 1, I will be starting as a Research Associate for the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. According to the job posting: “The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies is an academic research center that conducts rigorous policy relevant research about Jewish life and the Jewish community.” Heller has prepared me for this role in numerous ways; today, I thought it might be helpful for prospective students and applicants to see how Heller classes correspond to actual job skills.

Here are some of the Primary Responsibilities, Skills, and Experience listed in the job posting and how Heller helped me prepare for this job:

Participate in all phases of complex research projects including design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation of results AND Assist with survey writing, programming, testing, and administration

In my first semester at Heller, I took a research methods course that walked us through best practices for data accrual. All of our assignments pushed us to create and evaluate survey tools and proposals.

For quantitative researchers: Expertise in statistical software packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS, Stata, R). Familiarity with Stata statistical software and its syntax language is strongly preferred; For quantitative researchers: Demonstrated research experience in survey design, administration, and analysis; Summarize study results through charts, graphs, and presentations; AND Experience with cleaning, validating, and manipulating data

Before two semesters of Applied Regression Analysis and Applied Econometrics, I would have never told you I was interested in pursuing a career in research. It is a vast world of numbers and syntax; a world that pre-Heller me wouldn’t have touched with a ten-foot pole.  However, through these courses I’ve found immense fascination manipulating and cleaning data for my own benefit. To see the data align and measure the statistical impact of various social determinants has underscored the work I’ve done over the last two years in graduate school. It’s brought meaning and evidence to the cause I hope to champion and the work that needs to be done. Is STATA my best friend? Not yet, but I’m excited to grow these skills more in my new role and appreciate the courses that provided me with a solid foundation in quantitative research.

Assist in proposal development AND Experience as a task and project supervisor and/or manager

The semester-long capstone project both empowers and challenges students to create and facilitate their own research. From the proposal, to the report, to the presentation, we were solely in charge of the management and success of our capstone.

Conduct literature searches and reviews; Strong and effective written and verbal communication skills; AND Assist in the writing and editing of reports, journal articles, and presentations for both academic and lay audiences

The assignments for the MPP program are structured to imitate tasks you may be asked to complete in a policy-centered job. As such, each paper, blog post, literature review, project proposal, and analysis report I wrote over the last two years are all relevant to this new job. Each one helped me curate a succinct style and confident voice.

Demonstrated ability to work as part of a team, foster consensus, and collaborate with individuals and organizations with a range of interests and perspectives

Every class either requires or encourages group participation; something I was dreading about graduate school. However, again I was proven wrong. In college, a group project meant uneven work dispersal, varying commitment levels, and subsequent late nights. Group facilitation at Heller fostered collaboration. It showed me how to play to people’s strengths, learn from my peers, and identify my place on a team. It proved that group work is not only beneficial, but essential to successful work environments.

For qualitative researchers: Schedule and conduct telephone and in-person interviews, focus groups, and site visits AND Demonstrated research experience conducting interviews, focus groups and/or participant observation

And finally, a quick shout out to Heller Admissions. Over the last year and a half, I have been lucky to work on my interpersonal skills, through conducting interviews and responding to inquiries on all things Heller. This job has taught me how to conduct a tactful and appropriate interview,  liaise with our community, and engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue.

I am most thankful for my experience at Heller and look forward to continue to grow the foundations set in place by my graduate school experience in my career to come.

Ariel Wexler’s Favorite Class: Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Ariel and her project partner holding a large check for $1,000

The Heller Social Impact Startup Challenge  on Nov. 7, 2021. (Anna Miller Multimedia for the Heller School)

Before joining The Heller School, I was a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in the agriculture sector in Guatemala. I decided to pursue dual degrees in Sustainable International Development and Social Impact MBA because I was passionate about the ways in which business could be utilized as a force for good in the international development sector.  Due to my desire to merge and complement my two degrees, during Fall 2021, I enrolled in Carole Carlson (Senior Lecturer and Director of Heller MBA program)’s esteemed Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation course.  The course explores how entrepreneurship has become a driving force in the social enterprise sector and provides tools for how to develop and evaluate new business ventures.  Furthermore, this course teaches applied social enterprise business plan development tools. 

Throughout the 12 weeks, I learned a breadth of knowledge in the skills, attitude, and strategy needed to fully implement and become a successful entrepreneur in a social impact sphere. An inspiring part of the course included weekly Q&A sessions with passionate social entrepreneurs from across the globe.  Through case studies and discussions with seasoned entrepreneurs in the field, we are able to analyze and evaluate what it takes to make it in this sector.  

A highlight of this course is forming a team to develop a social venture business plan and present the final pitch to classmates and a panel of judges. It was through this experience that I formed a team with four other inspiring peers surrounding a student’s business concept called The Farmer Foodie, a carbon-negative farm-to-table restaurant. Our team met weekly to refine our ideas and develop our business model. Key topics discussed throughout the course included but were not limited to entrepreneurial leadership, ideation, team building, developing ecosystems, innovation, scaling, managing growth, financing, operations, marketing, measuring social returns, global social entrepreneurship, and designing and delivering an effective business pitch.

Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation was my favorite course that I had the privilege of taking at Heller. Carole Carlson’s passion and depth as a thought leader in social entrepreneurship make it a worthwhile experience. Check out Professor Carlson’s newly published first edition of her Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation textbook here.  Additionally, my friend and cohort member Alison Elliott has pivoted The Farmer Foodie business to Everything Cheeze, a cashew parmesan alternative offering that has just launched. Check out their website and social media handles to see how Ali’s business progresses. Participating in this course inspired many of us to go on to pitch at The Heller Startup Challenge, Brandeis Innovation’s SparkTank, and even MassChallenge.

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!

 

Q&A: What is a Proseminar?

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

This weekend, I had the opportunity to take part in a Heller proseminar with a focus on finance and budgeting, and it was excellent. So I figured, if you decide to become a Heller Graduate student (or maybe you already are one), you may also have the opportunity to take part in proseminars and may have some questions about what they are and how they work. Let’s take a moment to discuss what exactly they are:

Q: What makes proseminars different from regular courses?

A: Proseminars are 9 hour “crash courses” (my words, not Heller’s) that typically meet Friday – Sunday that feature a wide variety of topics. 

Q: Are proseminars required?

A: No, they are totally optional! If it is a topic you are interested in, then you can opt in to the course – but they are never required. 

Q: Do proseminars count for credits?

A: Yes! Proseminars count for 1 academic credit. 

Q: Why would I want to take a proseminar?

A: As was mentioned above, proseminars can cover a variety of topics – such as finance and budgeting for nonprofits;  technology for development; diversity, equity and inclusion; and many other changing topics! You. may chose to take them out of interest, or because they count towards your overall credit requirements (or both)!

Q: How many proseminars are offered each semester?

A: It depends. I have found that there are usually 2-3 each semester, but I believe that can change . 

Q: Do I have to pay to attend a proseminar?

A: No, these are free for students to join at no additional cost. It is akin to attending a free weekend learning conference.

Q: Are proseminars graded or on a pass/fail basis?

A: They are graded and count towards you GPA the same as a regular module or semester long course. 

Q: How do I enroll in a proseminar?

A: You will get an email from your program advisor a month or so ahead of time with all needed information – including an online sign-up form. 

Still have questions about a proseminar? Feel free to reach out to your program advisor for the most accurate information on when they are, what topics they may feature, how to enroll, and any additional questions!

 

Recap of a Stint in Virtual Learning

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

When I was looking into graduate schools back in 2020, one thing that was really important to me was having in person classes. Obviously, when the pandemic first hit, most graduate schools had all their classes online. That was why I decided to wait and apply for Fall 2021, when I knew it would be more likely that I could experience everything in person. Thankfully, the Fall 2021 semester was all in person and I got my wish.

However, in December 2021, the Omicron variant hit, and uncertainty about classes being online was in the air again. So many people I knew were getting infected, and I got more and more concerned we’d be moving online permanently. I constantly was checking my inbox over the break, looking for updates about if in person classes would begin. Finally, I saw the email– I quickly skimmed and found the information I was looking for. “Classes will begin online for the first two weeks of the Spring 2022 semester.” My heart sank a little bit; even though I knew it was the right decision with the new variant, that didn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed.

Now being back in person after those two weeks, it seems a good a time as any to look back on those two weeks of online classes. A few good things about being online were that I seemed to have so much more time. Since I wasn’t as worried about getting to campus, my time was my own, and I had a lot more of it. Also, being at home meant that I could take some time during the day to cook, get my laundry done etc, which I don’t get to do as much during a normal week. However, there were also negatives too. Because I also was working remotely, I was essentially staring at my computer for 12 hours a day every day. As someone who loves being outdoors and being social, this was a little bit tough for me. Plus, being online I have a much harder time concentrating, and find that I get distracted much easier.

While there were definitely some benefits to being virtual, I must say I’m very happy to be back in person. However, I have to give credit to the professors that made being online much more engaging that I anticipated. One professor that really stood out for me with her skills in teaching online classes was Professor Kaitie Chakoian.  Professor Chakoian teaches Policy Approaches to Gender-Based Violence, which is my favorite class of the semester so far. When we were online, she did such an great job at letting us be part of the discussion and coming up with exercises to really make sure everyone was able to participate. In addition, these discussions got us thinking on a deeper level about what rape culture really is and what constitutes it. Also, she made sure to give us frequent breaks as needed, and give us time to get into break out rooms to have further discussion about the topics of class. This was so helpful, as it gave us time to really absorb the material and ask any questions we might have. Professor Chakoian did an amazing job, and if we had to be online permanently, I would take her class in a heartbeat.

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