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Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipient: Celina Benavides, HDP'10

Celina BenavidesCalifornia native Celina Benavides came to the Ed School hoping to experience everything it has to offer. "I wanted to immerse myself in the whole experience," she says. "To enjoy the city, to gain knowledge from professors, [and to] learn from my colleagues' diverse backgrounds." Now, finishing up her year in the Human Development and Psychology Program (HDP), she has done just that.

"Her classmates and teachers this year were amazed that Celina was involved in so many aspects of life at HGSE," relates Lecturer Terrence Tivnan, director of HDP. "She was a participant in what seemed like hundreds of student activities, and her classmates consistently describe her as kind and generous and ethical. Her willingness to be involved and her friendly way of welcoming and supporting others have made her a true role model and a real success, and these qualities will help her even more in the future."

Benavides hopes to stay on the East Coast after graduation, and is seeking a research position in early childhood education in either Washington, D.C. or Boston. Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for HDP, Benavides answered some questions about her 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?
My time here has reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration, not only in developing class projects, but also in implementing change within the community.

How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
My family has continued to support me and ground me. They are a daily reminder of where I have come from and what I hope to achieve, for myself, for them, and for my community.

What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
Your time here goes by quickly, so amidst the crunch of studying and completing projects, make time to enjoy the lectures and performances at Harvard. And interact with peers; they are the ones that make the experience so enjoyable.

What will you change in education and why?
I plan on changing the quality of research on Latino children's cognitive development and concept formation, as well as expanding the narrative on immigrant and multigenerational families within the U.S. I want to change how society understands these groups and creates policies that affect their access to educational opportunities and economic advancement.

If you could transport one person/place/thing in Harvard Square to your next destination, what would it be?
I wish I could take everyone with me to each city I relocate to. I will miss their energy, creativity, and passion for change. If I could bring one other thing, it would be Pinocchio's pizza.


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