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Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipient: Evren Gunduz, SS'10

Evren GunduzEvren Gunduz came to the Ed School with the goal of expanding the Enjoy Club Leadership Academy -- the program he developed in 2005 that travels to schools teaching the students about leadship, attitude, service, and moral mentoring. He enrolled in the Special Studies Program (SS) hoping to learn and get support from peers and professors - enough to be able to increase his program's impact across New England. After a fulfilling year at the Ed School, Gunduz has loftier goals. "Our mission is more salient, and our scope is broader. We are thinking global impact, with a more focused mission," he says.

"Evren Gundez totally immersed himself into the Harvard community from the moment he set foot on campus," says John Collins, director of SS. "More than any other student, he engaged in every aspect of Harvard life -- experiencing it and contributing to it. He explored the entire campus, attending lectures, performances, museums, athletic events. He volunteered his services within social service agencies. He formed and led student groups. He excelled in courses, group projects and written work. In making the most of his Harvard experience, he enhanced and enriched the experience for many others - his fellow students and peers ... and his faculty advisor."

Upon learning that he had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for SS, Gunduz answered some questions about his time at the Ed School and beyond.

Is there any professor who significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?
Lecturer Richard Weissbourd gets huge props here! He "walks his talk" and is the model moral mentor that he promotes us to be for others. Compassionate and supportive, he stretched our capacity to lead, mentor, and empower others to do the same. Weissbourd sincerely put his students first and was one of the most available and genuine professors to speak with and learn from.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
I have gained, and will carry with me always, an empathetic awareness of other people and the understanding that every human has something incredible to offer the world in the form of thoughts, actions, and feelings.

Any special study spots on campus (or off)?
It took a bit of time to get it right, but the all-star study rotation includes: Special Collections Room in the basement of Gutman; Lamont Library cafe and third floor; Widener Library stacks, Loker Reading Room, and the hard-to-find-the-entrance-to third floor reading room; if the weather is nice, the Yard and JFK Park are wonderful reading spots!

What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
Meet, engage in, get to know, and listen to every single person you pass by during your time here. The amount of emotional and intellectual growth, energy, and compassion you experience from your peers is 10 billion times greater than what you will ever generate on your own. Be the listening sponge and simply submerge yourself in the HGSE ocean of people.

What will you change in education and why?
I would like to see students in schools be given a more prominent voice in their leadership. Empowering them to be positive leaders and giving them improved chances to express their ideas and emotions will expand their capacity for empathy toward others. A change in a community's expectations of students and autonomy given to their leadership will help prove that young people have an incredible ability to organize positive social change to a school's and community's culture.

What's your favorite thing on the menu at Conroy Commons?
The vegetarian chili was a staple midday pick-me-up all year!


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