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Improving Access: Yael Karakowsky, MBE'12

Yael KarakowskyAfter commencement, Yael Karakowsky hopes to take what she’s learned in the Mind, Brain, and Education Program (MBE) and apply it in her native Mexico.

“I would be interested in making changes in the Mexican education system,” she says. “I am convinced that if people don’t have access to education, education must access people.”

To that end, Karakowsky hopes to find a position at an international organization at which she can contribute to “transgenerational changes” and which seeks, she says, “to understand the best approach to bring education that dignifies and empowers.”

“Yael Karakowsky has made deep and wide contributions to the cohort in Mind, Brain, and Education,” says Professor Kurt Fischer, director of MBE. “She has facilitated communication to a remarkable degree and is skilled at blending constructive comments with useful criticism - always with a kind and positive spirit. Thank you, Yael, for making an important contribution to the quality of dialogue in MBE this year.”

Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for MBE, Karakowsky answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.

Favorite class? I would say two classes:

Howard Gardner’s Good Work in Education: When Excellence, Ethics and Engagement Meet. First, Howard’s work and mentorship have inspired my professional life for years, so having him as a professor represented both the realization of a dream and a challenge. Second, the class gave me the opportunity to dream big, to meet and to question what I call outstanding influencers. … Lastly, the class raised my awareness of social issues, provoked critical thinking, and went way beyond the classroom. Howard’s commitment and individual response to the students’ weekly memos was remarkable.

Jack Shonkoff’s, The Science of Learning, Behavior, and Health: Implications for Early Childhood Policy. I clearly remember our first class where Jack encouraged us to think big, to share our dreams, and to pursue them. Jack is a passionate and inspiring leader, an outstanding advocate who motivates and teaches the students to use science to impact policy and practice to break the transgenerational cycle of disadvantage. As a Mexican woman, it is amazing and highly treasured to have the opportunity to meet individuals who can influence, support, and inspire us to find our own voice and to speak up in order to make generational changes. After taking this class I am extremely interested in applying and transmitting science to society in order to accomplish social change.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? I learned that passion is crucial in the education world. I learned what diversity, respect, and learning mean. I didn’t find the definition of education in a book, but I was educated every single second at HGSE. My experience was defined not only by my classes but also by the interactions and engaging conversations with both an outstanding body of faculty and my fellow classmates.

Is there any professor who significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School? Besides Howard and Jack, I would say Rick Weissbourd, Todd Rose, Fernando Reimers, and Kurt Fischer. I have no doubt in saying that they not only shaped my experience at HGSE but also my life. This might be my opportunity to tell them all a big THANK YOU – not only for inspiring me, but also for trusting me, supporting my crazy ideas, listening, and sharing their valuable time with me.

What will you change in education and why? I will change the appreciation people have for education in developing countries. Education is a tool that enables not only individual, but generational changes. I want to transmit the message that if we were born in a house with opportunities – meaning basic needs, caring environment, and education -­‐   our biggest [responsibility] is to bring that same opportunity to the people who were born without them.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program? Enjoy every single minute, dream BIG…. and talk, talk, talk. This goes for engaging in conversations, for asking questions, for finding your own voice, and for speaking up. The year goes by fast and this will be a unique and huge opportunity in your life. Live it!

For the full list of recipients, visit