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Imagining a Brighter Future: Arushi Mittal, SSP'20

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Specialized Studies reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Arushi Mittal with the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows

Arushi Mittal [From l–r, starting with Arushi]: "Brimar, Indra, Asha, and Kimm, all fellow Equity and Inclusion Fellows, have been my refuge, my family, my study gang and my radical action group at HGSE."

Photo courtesy of Arushi Mittal

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes 13 Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Arushi Mittal will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Specialized Studies (SSP) at HGSE's Virtual Commencement on May 28.

Lecturer Eileen McGowan, faculty director of SSP, comments on Mittal's selection: "Students and faculty alike hold Arushi in exceptionally high esteem. She brings authenticity to every interaction. She fully engages in spirited debate by clearly articulating her viewpoints. At the same time, she listens carefully to alternative perspectives and is always willing to learn and change her thinking. This is such an amazing quality and one we can all learn from and emulate. Arushi has received many accolades from her peers, who validate the positive impact her intellectual engagement has made on their HGSE experience. As one so eloquently expressed, 'She is passion and peace personified.'"

We spoke to Mittal about her time at HGSE, her future plans, and what the new normal in education might look like:

What does the photo above mean to you?

Arushi Mittal: Asha, Brimar, Indra, and Kimm, all fellow Equity and Inclusion Fellows, have been my refuge, my family, my study gang and my radical action group at HGSE. Every day, they inspire me to be a better person and to continue the fight towards a more just and humane world. In our tiny, respectful, nourishing community, I found the holding space and imagination that I had been seeking in my co-conspirators. Not to miss that their home cooked meals made the Cambridge food scene bearable.

The image is from HGSE semi-formal, Feb 22, 2020.

What are your post-HGSE plans?

AM: Post-HGSE, I plan to return to my home community in Rajasthan, India where I hope to contribute to the grassroots feminist movement. I want to promote feminist pedagogies grounded in reflexive, embodied, and collaborative learning methods in schools and colleges. I also want to amplify the voices of women, mainstreaming their ways of knowing and being. Most importantly, I hope to continue to create spaces for imagining our future beyond systems of patriarchy and misogyny, seeding hope for new ways of existence and organization for human societies.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?

AM: “master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” – Audre Lorde

This quote signifies to me the need for radically reimagining education for the 21st century, rooted in feminist and decolonial theories. I hope to be able to embody these values with kindness and compassion in my work ahead.

"I hope to continue to create spaces for imagining our future beyond systems of patriarchy and misogyny, seeding hope for new ways of existence and organization for human societies." – Arushi Mittal

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?

AM: Dr. Aaliyah El-Amin’s class Emancipatory Inquiry has been the most powerful experience at HGSE for me. This class focuses on qualitative research methods rooted in critical theory frameworks and has been everything that I imagined education, research, and the process of meaning making of this world to be. Dr. El-Amin’s unparalleled trust in students’ abilities, her nuanced understanding of subject matter and her masterful pedagogy created an empowering environment, allowing me to fully embrace my own potential, while simultaneously building skills (and courage!) for nuanced social change research.

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education? 

AM: While the pandemic hasn’t shifted my views on education, it has highlighted the urgency of an education overhaul. And it has given me hope that this urgency will manifest in other research, policy, and practitioner action as well. I am also hopeful that the global educator community will learn from this free mass experiment in education technology, identifying opportunities and limitations of technology in furthering equitable education for all.