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Musician, Activist, Educator: Jocelyn Bonadio-de Freitas, AIE'18

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Arts in Education reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Jocelyn Bonadio-deFreitas
As a musician, Jocelyn Bonadio-de Freitas enrolled in the Ed School's Arts in Education Program to build her theoretical foundation as an educator and to focus on how music can be used effectively in community programming and student mentorship.

“I’m looking forward to taking my career to the next level in terms of competencies and responsibility,” she says. “I’m looking forward to putting into practice a lot of the theoretical concepts I’ve been exposed to here that I’m incredibly excited about and energized by.”

The Ed School community was energized by Bonadio-de Freitas’ numerous contributions, including a sold-out event at Oberon this spring called Little Tiny Walls, an evening of music, conversation, and politics on the topics of DACA, immigration, and being undocumented in America.

“Jocelyn is a musician, activist, educator, producer, and curator, who knows well the value of listening, but also the necessity of speaking up. And she did both throughout this year at HGSE,” says Senior Lecturer Steve Seidel, faculty director of AIE. "Her contributions were always both deeply felt and deeply thoughtful. Indeed, thought and feeling are indivisible in Jocelyn. She's a passionate thinker, constantly questioning herself and the world. Though many of her contributions were in tiny little moments in and out of class, perhaps her most public contribution was Little Tiny Walls…. This event was truly Jocelyn's vision. It took endless hard work and it was fantastic.” 

Bonadio-de Freitas will receive the Intellectual Contribution Award for AIE at Convocation on May 24. Here, she reflects on her time at HGSE and his life in education.

How did you stay inspired throughout the year? 
My family in Puerto Rico inspired me deeply throughout this year. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, some of my family stayed on the island and some of them left; we experienced a family death, a birth, and some family members going for over seven months without electricity or hot water. Staying connected with them while going through this incredibly privileged experience of studying at Harvard was humbling, grounding, and reinforced the value of family and identity in my life throughout this experience. I carry them with me as I walk across the stage! I also cannot leave out the other Puerto Rican students at HGSE who have become some of my closest friends and greatest supporters. I admire them deeply.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
The importance of building trusting relationships. Also, I’ve come to understand how my being a musician is an incredibly valuable part of my career, not just something “on the side.” Having that aspect of my identity supported here was an important part of this realization for me.

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?
Dr. Mapp’s course on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, and Houman Harouni’s course on Critical Pedagogy both significantly shaped my experience at the Ed School (as did Vijay Iyer’s Creative Music Ensemble course at the College). All of these courses provoked really important self-reflection on how I participate in and walk around in the world, and how to value and include every person’s perspective – something easier said than done. The lessons I learned in these courses I will carry with me in situations both personal and professional for years to come.

Despite your busy schedule, you always make time for …
Playing music. I’ve participated in music classes both semesters, played piano in the Latin band at the College, with a friend’s band around town, and made time to perform my own music as well. Playing music gives me life!

What will you change in education and why?
I start with changing myself. Evolving my personal attitudes to the work, examining my biases, shining a light on my blind spots and becoming a better communicator and a more critical thinker. This is to say, I will change education by leading by example, by listening, by showing up in community ready to contribute, nurture others, speak truth to power, and to do so creatively.

Learn more about the Intellectual Contribution Award and read about all of this year's recipients.


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