Hundreds of new students gathered yesterday under a tent on Greenleaf Lawn to be welcomed by Dean Kathleen McCartney and kick off the start of the school year. McCartney’s welcome speech opened an orientation week designed to provide students opportunities to familiarize themselves with the Ed School campus, Harvard Square, courses, faculty members, and fellow students, including a diversity event, “Engaging in Inclusive Dialogue,” led by Professor Tom Hehir, and master’s program meetings.
“Take every opportunity to remind yourselves why we do this work,” McCartney advised. “I believe that our hopes for a more just and equitable society depend on our ability to improve student opportunity, achievement, and success.”
McCartney and other speakers addressed an entering class consisting of 652 master’s students, 24 doctoral students, 13 certificate of advanced study students, and the third cohort of 25 Doctor of Education Leadership Program (Ed.L.D.) students. The average age of entering students is 28; 76 percent are female and 24 percent are male. The class is composed of students representing 30 countries and 42 states. Fifteen percent are international students and 25 percent identify as students of color.
In her speech, McCartney shared the many ways in which students from last year’s cohort had gone on to have an impact in the world in just the few short months since graduation, and encouraged the incoming class to do the same by engaging, exploring, and listening to the wealth of resources Harvard has to offer.
“I urge you to open your heart this year. If you do, I can promise you one thing: This school will change you, and you will go on to change the world,” McCartney said.
For many students, the start of the school year is exciting and overwhelming. Faculty speaker Professor Susan Moore Johnson, winner of the 2012 Morningstar Family Teaching Award, emphasized the privileges that come with being at Harvard stretch beyond the stat-of-the-art facilities and the special guests that come to campus.
“The true privilege comes with the incredible opportunities that await you here to think, to learn, to discover, to grow,” Johnson said. “It’s a privilege to study full-time, rather than attending classes at the end of a long and exhausting day of work.”
Doctoral students Jay Huguley and Matthew Kraft each gave tips to students on how to navigate their time at Harvard from engaging with faculty to ways to hand the overwhelming amounts of assigned reading to balancing life in and out of the classroom.
“You will face rigor, difficulty. You will cry…. You will figure it out,” Huguley said. In closing, he encouraged students to not be “conformed” to the experience as much as “transformed” by it.
Many of the speakers focused on students seizing the day — and the coming year — but urged them to not forget about what will come at the end of their time at HGSE.
“Today, you’re likely to be focused on what will happen this week, this semester, or in the next nine months. But I want to draw your attention to the real privilege that you will have when you leave Harvard,” Johnson said. “If you came here hoping to be in the top 1 percent of income earners, you probably made the wrong decision, checked the wrong box. But if you’re hoping to be in the top 1 percent of those who do good — you actually have a shot.”