Jason Rafferty, HDP ’11: Collaboration Across DisciplinesBy newseditor
A future pediatrician, New Hampshire-native Jason Rafferty took this year at the Ed School in order to enhance his understanding of child psychology. In particular, Rafferty wanted to learn more about the role of schools in promoting healthy development and building relationships with teachers, parents, counselors, and school administration.
Starting June 1, Rafferty will return to Harvard Medical School to complete his final year of training. However, he’s certainly left an impression on the Human Development and Psychology (HDP) Program.
“He has impressed everyone with his academic work and also with his willingness to share his experience and expertise with others,” says Lecturer Terrance Tivnan, program director of HDP. ”How does he do everything? He seems to attend every talk and colloquium session. He organizes special events to get students involved in worthy causes. He has reminded us to help others who are less fortunate. He has informed us about interesting events taking place at HGSE and at other schools at Harvard…. He is a remarkably active participant in every aspect of HGSE life.”
Upon learning that he had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for HDP, Rafferty answered some questions about his time at the Ed School and beyond.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
[Massachusetts] Governor Deval Patrick came and spoke at an HGSE event and stated, “In life, go where you think you will find love, not where you think you belong.” So often we find ourselves pursuing paths of high predictability. However, a resonating theme through all of my classes has been that leadership, learning, and success are about forming relationships. For me, HGSE has been a place where I have found love — love for learning, love for teaching, and the love that comes from caring for each other (sometimes tough-love in terms of managing assignments!). Moving forward as a physician, I only hope I can model such compassion.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
I tried to immerse myself in the material that I was studying. Throughout the fall semester, I was a preceptor at the Medical School and I incorporated my final project for T402 Group Learning on how medical students work in groups. This semester, I am taking courses on risk and resiliency (H331), moral development (H611) and adolescent development (H236). Simultaneously, I have been conducting research at a high school in Dorchester on challenges adolescents face in accessing preventative healthcare, and on training athletic coaches in how to facilitate positive character development. Ultimately, I have been fortunate to study issues that I am passionate about, especially the challenges and resiliency of adolescents.
What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program?
In general, my advice would be that there are so many opportunities here at Harvard, take the time to explore different interests and to challenge one’s self. Throughout my path at Harvard, I have been able to push myself as a caregiver, educator, leader, and scholar. I have worked with populations spanning from urban youth to geriatrics in settings that include schools, hospitals, and community centers. My courses have taken me around the world to China and Japan, and they have branched across the fields of research, policy, and practice. So, my recommendation is to think broadly and be innovative!
What will you change in education and why?
I believe in collaboration across disciplines, which means educators working alongside healthcare providers and policymakers to really understand and meet the needs of our youth. On some level, I do not believe that pediatricians should be in offices — it is not a familiar setting for children and adolescents. Rather, the model needs to be turned upside-down so that they are out in the community and schools — provide service and understand kids in context. More importantly, it breaks down barriers between the disciplines of healthcare and education.
If you could transport one person/place/thing from HGSE to your next destination, what would it be?
In a year from now, I will be a physician. My experience at HGSE was really the last opportunity I will have to step outside that role. That has really been powerful in enabling me to pursue and engage others in different interests outside of healthcare. Furthermore, I have been so supported by faculty, administrators, and peers in that process of stepping out. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable this year has been for me personally. I wish that I could bring that sense of escape and support forward to compliment the demands of my career.