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Collaborate, Lead, and Inspire: Julia Rose, LDIT'22

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Julia Rose

Julia Rose

Photo: Jill Anderson

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes graduating Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Julia Rose will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology (LDIT) Program during HGSE's Convocation exercises on May 25.

Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt and Professor Jal Mehta, faculty directors of LDIT, comments on Rose’s selection: “Julia has been a thought leader in classes throughout HGSE, starting last summer when she bravely took all four foundational courses. Her peers praise both the insights and the warm engagement Julia brings to class and section discussions, encouraging classmates to respect everyone’s contributions and build on others’ ideas.

“Some of their comments in nominating Julia as this year’s LDIT Intellectual Contribution award winner:

  • When I think of the person who has inspired me all year, I think of Julia Rose. Julia is constantly exploring her own academic interests while helping her colleagues join her on this journey. For example, she encouraged me to take advantage of the iLab resources while she herself participated. She has offered a lot of her personal time to support me with my own venture and projects. 
  • I have seen her take the lead in multiple projects this year, including hosting a Design Thinking workshop as part of the Futures of Education club that she co-founded. Many colleagues here at HGSE echo my sentiments — if you were to ask anyone in our program, they will attest to Julia's commitment to uplifting our community.
  • Julia is a strong and empathetic leader who always communicates from a place of care and kindness. Aside from being incredibly hard-working, generous with her time (she is always ready to help her peers), and very involved in all that Harvard has to offer, Julia is a humble individual.
  • Unlike most students, she does not seem to be motivated by grades or accolades. It is rare to find someone as committed to the intellectual labor needed to produce impactful work here at Harvard. Time and time again, I have seen her put her peers in the spotlight in her stead. To me, this is the mark of true leadership and strong character.
  • Julia has been an inspiration for me all year, and I know she has impacted the lives of many students here at HGSE. She has always cheered for her cohort and inspired people to be positive in all circumstances.

“Serious in her own academic work, promoting classmates’ belonging and learning, creating co-curricular opportunities and inviting peers to join, and maintaining a relentlessly cheerful, open, and respectful disposition — these are qualities we highly value in LDIT, and Julia Rose clearly demonstrates these virtues every day.”

We spoke to Rose — who will be spending this summer as a TA for HGSE’s How People Learn foundations course — about her time at HGSE and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What were the goals that brought you to the Ed School — and have those goals changed?   

I am continuously inspired by the fact that much remains to be learned about the way individuals absorb information and collaborate cross-functionally to support improved outcomes on the individual, organizational, and societal levels. 

My background is in speech language pathology mainly working on the individual level, person to person (which I love!). However, I have realized that I am passionate about bringing that experience to large-scale program design, and my goal is to apply the latest research and technology to bring meaningful change to public and private institutions at the national and international levels.

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

Christoper Dede is an absolute legend not because he is extremely knowledgeable about emerging technologies but because he is 100% authentically himself. His personal stories, honest side comments, and engaging Zoom backgrounds create a safe environment for you to be you. During our first office hours together, I awkwardly revealed I wrote Harry Potter fan fiction, I was totally mortified at myself, but he wasn’t! In fact, he shared with me his positive thoughts about fan fiction and we had a great conversation. He creates a safe and open learning space that I appreciated so much! In the future, I plan to mentor others and I hope I can exude/emanate the same level of care and authenticity as Chris!

Fernando Reimers' approach to community and team building is completely next level. On the first day of the fall semester, he tells us we have four days to make a group and find a government to work on (all of us were in panic mode but each group did it, together). Then, that whole semester we were actual consultants for state or country governments. That experience was super impactful and I will be bonded to my group and my classmates for life. Also, throughout the semester, he invited us to not only student-oriented events but included us in his professional network — you really feel like his equal; that he wants you to know, who he knows; and that he truly cares about your personal experience and pushes you to share your stories with others. 

Prior to Sebastian Munoz-Najar Galvez’s Text Analysis course, I had one statistics course where we used R. I was not the most experienced coder, and this class would have been daunting if not for Sebastian’s teaching approach! In my opinion (which may be biased!), he changed the game in how people approach learning how to code. We did activities where we were required to make mistakes, then document how we debugged the mistakes and had us share our solutions. Sharing our errors and thought processes was a huge part of the course. Not only was this super helpful but it cultivated community. Our problem sets were not solely about perfect coding with a perfect analysis but we had to state our whys behind each coding decision and how that would impact X information. Mistakes weren’t welcome they were encouraged — which, to me, cultivated the optimal environment to explore and learn!

"We can do these things that felt too difficult before the pandemic — when, in reality, they were quite easy and super beneficial. It has me thinking, what else can we do that may seem difficult but actually isn't?" 

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education?  

I was working at a children's hospital from the beginning of the pandemic until I moved to Cambridge in August 2021 and the population I served was often medically complex. Childhood cancer, strokes, unexplained brain inflammatory responses, and extreme abuse — essentially death, illness, and challenges with equity were already a part of my daily working life.

Experiencing COVID, and the magnitude of inequity that was exposed, alongside an already emotionally taxing job leaves me with a loss of words. There were so many times when I felt powerless over the circumstances at play. However, there are some silver linings which were: 

  1. Individualized learning: Telehealth allowed me insights into my patients' home environments and family dynamics allowing me to better assess my impact and adjust as need be to best fit my patients' situations.
  2. Caregiver education: Therapy sessions required greater caregiver involvement which often led to increased positive outcomes — I could tell this was empowering for the parents which made my heart full. 
  3. Multi-disciplinary team collaboration: Not only allowed me to sit on patients' physical and occupational therapy sessions but increased collaboration with my patients' education/school support team. Although I recognize that special education services were extremely difficult during this time, I did have the opportunity to meet and work with phenomenal school speech-language pathologists and special education teachers. Telehealth allowed us to sit in on each other's sessions —enabling us to unite our efforts and provide better care for our kiddos when previously it felt quite soled across settings.

My experiences mentioned made me realize, we CAN do these things that felt too difficult before the pandemic — when, in reality, they were quite easy and super beneficial. It has me thinking, what else can we do that may seem difficult but actually isn't? 

What surprised you about your time at HGSE?

I am not kidding when I say that everyone I met, including students, faculty, and administrative staff, genuinely wants you to succeed and be the best you. I am not a competitive person (I used to let people run past me in cross country because running next to them made me feel anxious) and I was worried about Harvard’s academic environment. However,  Harvard completely shattered my expectations in how they support their students. The faculty expectations are high but they provide you with the resources and support to ensure you met those expectations. And HGSE students, are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Everyone is so busy, yet people will show up to your class presentation, student club events, or your pitch competitions to support you or even just sit with you to talk through a paper or life. 

Also, I am diagnosed with dyslexia so I assumed I would never enjoy or be good at data "stuff" but this year made me realize that I am fascinated with data analytics. I have always been a fan of reading research and staying updated, but learning how to work with large data sets (that break my computer), create data visualizations, and break down massive amounts of information into digestible pieces into information has been one of my most favorite learning experiences. 

Despite your busy schedule, you always make time for …

Journaling, I am big journaler, it keeps my brain from filling up with too much information, allowing me to reflect upon daily experiences and consolidate information received (which over this past year was alot!). Without my journal, I would have been a mess!