Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipient: Emily Almas, HE’09By admin
Before coming to the Ed School, Emily Almas’ work as a college admissions officer sparked her interest in the world of higher education. “If the college was a restaurant where I had been working as a hostess at the front of the house, I wanted to learn more about what was going on in the kitchen,” she says.
“Throughout the year, Emily has been both a superb student herself and an outstanding contributor to the education of others. Her infectious enthusiasm for learning, delightful sense of humor, and genuine interest in her classmates have invigorated class discussions and made her an enormously valuable participant in the many small-group projects in the higher ed program curriculum,” says Professor Judith McLaughlin, director of the Higher Education Program (HE).
Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the HE Program, Almas, Ed.M.’09, answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.
What are your post-HGSE plans?
I’m not sure what I will be doing after I graduate, but I hope to get a position where I can make an impact on the lives of students. I’d love to return to college admissions or work on student access or development. Of course, this year has also shown me how many different people in various facets of higher education impact a university or its students. Maybe research or policy work is in my cards?
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
More than anything, I’ve learned that examining the past can help us move forward. I think one of Professor Bridget Terry Long‘s lectures said it best: higher education is not like any other business. I think you can apply all of education to that statement. Coming up with solutions is hard work and going to take new ideas and ways of looking at things. People have been tinkering with education, whether preschool or college, for a very long time and as [Lecturer] Christina Collins’ class taught me, many new ideas today actually have their roots in earlier education reforms. I think understanding how education has evolved is really important.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
My classmates and my professors have inspired me this year. One look around a room full of smart, happy, and dedicated people committed to making education a better place was all it usually took to keep me motivated. Hearing my classmates’ stories — whether a friend who taught kindergarten in inner-city Atlanta or one who worked on community initiatives at a big university — helped remind me why I was here. It’s hard not to be inspired when you know that this group of people is going to make a big difference.
If you could change one thing about education today, what would it be and why?
There are a lot of things that could be reformed in education, but I think one of the things that I would change is how educators talk about their work. There are higher education institutions – not to mention K-12 schools – that accomplish great things, not just for their students but also for society. Oftentimes it seems like we focus on what’s wrong or what has failed. I think those in education should also feel empowered to talk about and celebrate our successes.
If you could transport one person/place/thing in Harvard Square to your next destination, what would it be?
Tough question! I would have to argue that Berryline, a frozen yogurt shop at the intersection of Bow and Arrow Streets, would be my pick to move with me (of course, I’d also really love to have my entire Higher Ed cohort conveniently at my next location too, although that seems a little less likely). It’s a local shop opened by some MIT graduates and a favorite meeting place for my friends and me. I also have fun memories of going there after class one day with my S508 classmates and Professor Julie Reuben, our professor.
2009 Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipients
Suzannah Holsenbeck, TEP
Elisha Brookover, L&L’09
Mangala Nanda, IEP’09
Andrew Cabot, SS’09
Nancy Schoolcraft, MBE’09
Joe Baker, EPM’09
Kathy Yang, L&T’09
Angelica Brisk, AIE’09
Melissa Mayes, R&P’09
Jerome “Jay” Green, HDP’09
Ashton Wheeler Clemmmons, SLP’09
Terri-Nicole Singleton, TIE’09
Emily Almas, HE’09