Harvard Extension
Commencement 2017

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Every May, graduates of the Extension School participate in Harvard University Commencement, earning their degrees alongside graduates from Harvard College, Harvard Business School, and all other Harvard schools.

Graduate Spotlights

At a Glance

860 Graduates

with 150+ undergraduate degrees and 700+ graduate degrees

Graduates from every stage of life

18-68 years old and average age of 35

59 Countries Represented

In the graduating class

See the Full Infographic

2017 Grads: Share Your Story

We want you to share your success! Tell us a favorite memory from Harvard Extension or what makes you most proud about earning your Harvard degree. We'll feature your responses below to inspire future Extension students.

Karen Wood

Associate in Arts

When I was a young woman in 1975 and wanted desperately to go to college, that opportunity was not afforded to me. My family was deeply religious and would not pay for any school that wasn't associated with our religion. I did not know enough about the importance of SAT scores and scholarships, so the only avenue open to me was the work world. It wasn’t until I had been working at Harvard for a while, and I had a conversation with a neighbor in Watertown who was my age and had been working all his life. He was getting his bachelor's degree through the Extension School. I thought, “If he can do it after so many years out of school, I can, too.” I have loved all my courses. The courses that made the biggest impression were taught by John Hallowell, James Herron, Amelie Rorty, and Stephanie Paulsell, and I absolutely adored all the museum studies courses I took. There were classes (such as math and science) that I struggled in, but tutoring was available. I am getting my associate's degree in May, and going on to my bachelor's in the fall, where my field of study will be humanities and, specifically, religion. I look forward to my future courses and the wonderful classmates and friends I will make, as I have in the past!

Cassandra Fradera

Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism

I am proud to be a nontraditional student. My passion for storytelling emerged when I began to use writing as a therapeutic tool to process my experiences as a first-generation American and survivor of domestic violence. As a graduate student, I was able to transform a writing practice built on processing personal pain into a critical inquiry of the Puerto Rican diaspora and capstone project. The journalism master’s program helped me organize my writing, workshop stories, and expand my critical thinking. With the support of friends and family, I balanced a full-time job, violence recovery, and studies. My writing and confidence grew simultaneously. I became the first Extension School student to serve as the Co-Presidenta of the pan-Harvard Latinx Student Alliance. In the words of Dean Lambert, “Extension School students are not differentiated by intellect, but rather their schedules.”

Eduardo Verboonen Khoury

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

I consider myself to be lucky. Even though reaching this milestone required a lot of effort and hard work. I can say, with confidence, I was lucky from the start: When I came to Harvard in the summer of 2015 I got an awesome person as my roommate. And that’s what happens in this program; you get to meet amazing people.

In my case: My roommate inspired me and he pushed me to enroll in Harvard Extension’s master’s degree program. He taught me by example that with determination and willpower you can achieve whatever you want in life.

Learning comes easier when you get to study and play side-by-side with incredible individuals, an that’s what you get at #Harvard.

Rüdiger von Kraus

Master of Liberal Arts, History

The Commencement's Demographics tell me that at 68 years of age I am one of the oldest if not the oldest graduate (the Demographic does not specify how many 68-year-olds are graduating this year). Like many of the Extension Schoolers, I got my first degree at 21. It was an interesting experience at the time, in communist Romania. A few years later I emigrated to freedom in the United States. And making money to raise a family was the first goal, which made me get my MBA at Rutgers's night school. I worked for a few companies to obtain the "American experience" and then together with a partner started my own company. The "making money" goal was thus accomplished. Our two boys went to some of the best schools and are now able to take care of themselves. The time to do something that I "wanted" and "didn't have" to do had come, and it was getting my Master degree in History at the Extension School. My Thesis received Harvard's Klein Family award. I signed a contract with Romania's Corint publishing house for the Thesis's publication (in Romanian) in 2018. I have been invited to give a (paid) speech in Transylvania with the theme of my Thesis at the 200's anniversary of a preeminent museum. The Extension School gave me a new life! Thank you so much!

John Walters

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability

I first heard about the Extension School when I was looking for classes to give me a leg up on my path toward a healthcare degree. After taking one course and then seeing the Sustainability/Environmental Master's track also available, I decided to "jump ship" and start in Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Bill Wellman and Jim Fitchett. It was the turning point, because I pitched a sustainable fitness center, other students clamored to join my pitch group, and I was hooked. From there on out, the program, school and education experience has been invaluable, and I am CONFIDENT I can be a change agent with the knowledge I gained.

Harry Harding

Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism

From first grade through the time I graduated Belmont High School in 1996, I traveled through Harvard Square almost daily. I grew up in Boston, a product of METCO; a program that transports students from urban to suburban communities for alternative education opportunities. During early am commutes, I can remember peering out of the school bus window at the crimson colored campus, along Storrow Drive. As a child, I saw them as just another series of buildings. My understanding of the prestige and achievement associated with the buildings would arrive much later. When deciding to pursue a graduate degree, I went back and fourth between psychology and journalism. I have been committed to the field of social work for more than fifteen years. I have been a writer my whole life. Figuring out the "what" was certainly more challenging than figuring out the "where". My first and only choice was Harvard. To earn a degree from Harvard was a dream. A dream that began during those childhood bus rides to school. A dream that I do not have to dream any longer. A dream that I can call a reality.

David Gibson

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability

It may sound trite and corny, but my experience with the Sustainability & Environmental Management Program has been a life changer for me. The tools that the program has provided, the doors that it has opened, and the lifelong relationships that I have formed have allowed me to completely reinvent myself professionally during the course of my studies. I have been able to combine my technical background in electrical engineering with my passion for social justice/community development and am now service as an energy access consultant. I'm making a meaningful contribution to the challenge of universal energy access—a daunting challenge with nearly 20% of our global population living without electricity! I am having more fun and am more fulfilled now than at any time in my professional career, which is a big deal for someone with more than 30 years of experience. Apparently, an old dog can learn a few new tricks!!! Based on my experience, my wife is starting the program this summer. I'm writing this reflection from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I am currently working on a Power Africa: Beyond the Grid rural electrification project.

Harry Robottom III

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

Perspective. It is the window through which we view the world. The clarity of our perception is skewed by what we have been taught our entire lives. Perspective dictates if the glass is half empty, half full or 6 ounces. Perspective is the water that feeds the faith of the hopeful or starves the chances of the desolate. Perspective traps the mind or frees it. Perspective flavors your personality, bringing to bear conclusions on how to respond to any situation you find yourself in. My time at Harvard Extension School has given me a new perspective. Beyond the world class knowledge that was introduced to me, and the brilliant ability of the professors to impute understanding of the material, there was the association with a global citizenship of students that enabled me to grasp a deeper understanding of the world we live in and how it can be. The sob story of the past I can relay pales in comparison to the wondrous future that lies before me. I can only credit God for His providence in allowing me the opportunity that is Harvard Extension School. Moreover, I thank the faculty, staff, students and friends I’ve acquired in my time at Harvard University for increasing my territory and expanding my perspective. As attributed to Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” I challenge anyone to “Know Thyself” and find what you’re looking for, find perspective through the halls of HES.

Elizabeth Geiger

Bachelor of Liberal Arts, Government

My academic journey has indeed been an unusual one. Like many of my fellow Extension classmates, I owe the completion of this degree to the fact that it was not possible for me to live on, or even close to a campus for four years. My exams were conducted by professors around the globe, and the bulk of my assignments were submitted wherever I could happen upon Wi-Fi in local cafes during my travels. I have "missed out" on dorm parties, house parties, and (much more) regrettably, the opportunity to meet many of my classmates face to face. However, the flexibility of the Extension program has allowed me to learn and grow in ways that cannot be replicated on a campus. Not only could I attend international universities and transfer credits, but I could take my Harvard History course while Au Pairing in Italy, and go visit Rome on the weekends. More recently, I have had the privilege of living on the outskirts of our nation's capitol, while studying Government and Political Science.

The opportunities for experiential learning have been endless within this program, and I consider myself unbelievably blessed to have been able to partake in such an incredible experience! As a young girl who wanted to take the "unconventional" route, I am so thankful to be able to share this accomplishment with you, my fellow classmates, who also chose this path for reasons of your own.

Victoria Palek

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

Earning this degree has been of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life! While also having a full-time job, raising a family with 5 small children and keeping up with the day-to-day demands of life, the alternative to give up this dream crossed my mind multiple times. Long nights and hours of dedication have finally allowed me to achieve this goal I set for myself 4 years ago. I am proud to now be able to show my children an example of how hard work can help you achieve any goal you set for yourself. The whole experience has been invaluable and has already made me a better personal and professional.

Quinn Pendleton

Bachelor of Liberal Arts, English

My Harvard Extension experience began while I was at the height of my career as a professional ballet dancer with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. Like all professional athletes, the career of a ballerina is short, often resulting in a complete change of life at the age when most other professionals would be settling into their prime. Knowing this, I chose to start the transition while still under the security of my life as a dancer. The concept of online learning was perfect for my situation. As I was based in Monaco and spending much of the time traveling on tour, attending classes on campus was essentially impossible while maintaining my full-time position. I would spend my breaks in the theater reading textbooks, or searching for the nearest Wi-Fi point so I could stream the lecture while on tour. The years and semesters flew by, and before I knew it my advisor was telling me that I only needed a few more classes to graduate. I had by this time taken the step to retire from dancing, and was able to dedicate the next two years to finalizing my studies. I loved finally being on campus, and savored the experience of being in the classroom and meeting all the incredible people from around the world. I am thrilled to have completed this journey after many years and hours of work and studying, but I am sure that the road will not end here. I am looking forward to continuing with the ALM degree starting next year!

Aleyda Villavicencio

Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism

Almost 10 years ago I visited Harvard Yard for the first time. I came with my father, who was spending the week at his annual internal medicine seminar, offered by Harvard Medical School. For many years I hesitated to join my father on his trips to Cambridge because I was certain that I’d fall in love with the idea of being part of this community. Finally, the day came when I accepted his invitation and spent the entire week walking through campus, watching students run from one building to the next, and entering the impressive Widener Library, which at the time I could only see from outside. That was the year I committed myself to come back. When we left for Mexico I told my dad I was coming back, but next time I was going to be the one taking classes in one of those historic buildings. Today I’m graduating from the journalism program. My father could not be prouder, and I could not be more thankful that he always insisted that I should come with him.

Shelhavit-Simcha Cohen

Master of Liberal Arts, Digital Media Design

For those who hold criticism and questions

Here I've found some of the best faculty and resources

Like any school at the end of the day

You get WHAT you make of it, it hold tools of many array

Amazing academic mentors who've held a canvas for expression

Many doors opened to me, coming from the leading institute in the world: Harvard's Extension

My advice to you is mindfully seek your relationships

Connect with those you connect, because that is what life keeps

No two minds think the same

We all have different wiring going on in our brains

With feedback and teamwork this is how we find wisdom

We mend each other's wings and build our own Kingdom—Queendom—Queerdom

My program held access to equipment which allowed me to develop my calling, my dream

(And a huge lesson on the way was that for this I need a team)

Transforming academic articles on wellness into short video stories

In the goal to bridge between ivory towers and main street alleys

And now behold, I'm headed for a dazzling PhD

This is the huge gift that Harvard DCE gave me

Opening doors and eyes to change the future

To make a positive difference in our world this was definitely a booster!

School it is WHAT YOU MAKE of it.

Be creative!

And to you Harvard Extension, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Taimur Ahmed

Master of Liberal Arts

Life has thrown many curveballs my way. The year I was born, my parents were wrongfully persecuted and blacklisted from their home in Pakistan. I always thought moving to America was one of the toughest changes I had to experience in my life. Growing up in a low-income home, with my parent’s unable to find consistent work, our family was always forced to move to anywhere an opportunity of a better life seemed the brightest. These circumstances forced me to experience life in 10 different states, attending 11 different schools, and gaining a perspective on the journey of life that not many share. Suddenly, the kid who began community college barely able to read became an intern at the US Senate, elected student senator at the University of Florida, and went on to become a White House Intern. It was after this that I decided law school was my final destination. My parents have always taught me to never let any of today's disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow's dreams. I have not yet met an individual whose life did not involve special circumstances. Therefore, I have come to believe that judgment should not lie in the quantity of struggle, but rather in the quality of the character that results.

Andre Johnson

Master of Liberal Arts, Information Management Systems

Harvard Extension School is a world-class learning environment that affords students the opportunity to tailor their educational goals with limitless boundaries. During my time at Harvard Extension, I have studied under professors whom are pioneers in the area of computer science and research. The sheer spectrum of classes are amazing, and the student body is comprised of talented intellectuals from literally around the globe. What has impressed me the most regarding Harvard Extension is the level of commitment each and every professor has had in ensuring my success. I can truly attest that I have made lifelong friends at Harvard Extension, and this experience has already opened many doors that would have been closed. I am humbled to be an alumnus of this prestigious University, and I sincerely applaud each and every professor of Harvard Extension in sharing their knowledge and talent for the greater good of society.

Queen Martin

Master of Liberal Arts, Mathematics for Teaching

Apart from the program helping me improve my teaching methods, it also allowed me to network with different people from all across the globe, who share the same priceless passion for teaching math. However, the greatest achievement through this program is the immediate impact it has had on my students’ learning. As a teacher of a student demographic that is considered to be made up of 99% immigrants with a low socioeconomic background—a stigma that so sadly often pre-defines their success—this experience served as a gateway of opportunity for both myself and for them.

When I got accepted to the Math for Teaching program at Harvard Extension School, everyone in my school was excited for me. Since then, I made my students part of my #HarvardStory. I shared both my achievements and failures; my excitement of living in a dorm and mingling with people from all over the world despite my misery of leaving my family back home for 3 consecutive summers; and how it feels to be in a classroom where the author of the book you are using is the professor himself. All throughout the program my family and my students became my motivation to push harder, while I became their eyes to dream bigger and see beyond what everyone thinks they are pre-destined to be.

Devon Johnson

Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism

Going back to school after 18 years was daunting to say the least. I was nervous and insecure that I would not be able to balance running my company and taking classes. However, the flexibility of the course offerings allowed me to tailor my schedule. As the CEO of an independent media company, I knew it was impossible to take time off for full-time study. The flexibility of the diverse course offerings helped me keep a positive work/school balance. Earning the Master of Liberal Arts in the field of journalism from Harvard has been an honor that my entire family takes pride in.

Chijioke Azuawusiefe

Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism

I dabbled into journalism, just for the love of writing. But I always knew I needed to improve on my craft—even after I founded and edited a magazine and a newsletter for a religious group in West Africa and a high school in Lagos, Nigeria, respectively. The journalism master’s program provided me the long-desired space to acquire the requisite training and to hone my writing skills while being a full-time graduate student in another institution. I’ve emerged a more confident writer and have Harvard and the Extension School to thank for that.

Rana Sader

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

I grew up in a small country called Lebanon at a time of unrest and war. Yet, childhood was simple and magical—studying in nature under trees, reading books in the light of flickering candles, and flipping through the encyclopedia to explore the world. My parents instilled in me the great value of learning, always repeating: “Education is the greatest armor for life”. At 16 years old, we packed our bags, said our goodbyes, and immigrated to the USA. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I found myself as a scientist trying to understand the corporate business world around me, and quickly realized its importance in any organization. So, I decided to enroll in the management program where I found passion in lectures, beauty in diversity, motivation in the midst of the challenge, and it all catapulted me into a whole new realm where I could see a different perspective, face up to my own assumptions, and navigate the business world. Harvard was a beautiful part of my journey; one of inspiration, one of connections, one of self-learning, and one of simplicity, studying under the trees in Harvard Yard or the stairs of Widener Library. I am so grateful for Harvard for giving me this opportunity. I am thankful for the teachers for their enthusiasm and dedication to our success. I am thankful for everyone who supported me along this journey, friends and family, especially my parents.

Tisome Nugent

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

I made this journey in part for myself but largely for my son. At a time in my life when I felt things were falling apart, when I didn't think things were going as I planned, God reminded me to focus on my blessings. First being my son Cameron, next being the vast opportunities before me.

I was blessed to have completed several advanced degrees including a doctoral degree. Yet with each degree I had thought of pursuing a program through Harvard University and ended up telling myself I couldn't do it—life had me fully anchored. After participating in one of the leadership institutes I learned I had more options than I had imagined. As a result I took this journey to fulfill a dream deferred. I was able to show my child how to struggle through challenges and that the size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. Through this journey I am reminded that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Matt Bonney-Cohen

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

The opportunity to earn a master's degree at Harvard while working at Harvard has been incredibly rewarding—and also not something I would have ever imagined doing. My journey began in April 2013, when I landed a temporary position as an Executive Education Program Coordinator at Harvard Kennedy School. After being hired full-time a few weeks later, I learned about the management program at Harvard Extension and enrolled in my first graduate course that fall.

What I appreciated most about the management track was the course options from which I could choose to fulfill a given requirement. My professional interests lie in mission-driven organizations, and so I loved the ability to take courses that not only counted towards my degree requirements, but also helped me earn a concurrent Certificate in Nonprofit Management. I also had the unique position of being able to learn in three different settings: in Executive Education classroom sessions, as a Harvard Kennedy School employee, and as a master's degree candidate at Harvard Extension. This combination proved to be more valuable than I expected, as each vantage point informed my understanding of who I am, how real organizations work, and how to work towards the impact I seek to make. I am grateful for the opportunity to have completed this degree while facilitating transformative experiences for public servants from around the world, and to have learned from professors, participants, colleagues, and classmates alike.

Mohammad Masud

Master of Liberal Arts, Information Management Systems

Deciding on a graduate school was a project by itself. I had compared three different universities in Massachusetts and finally settled on Harvard Extension. This was primarily due to the vast variety of courses, affordable cost, and most importantly, the Harvard brand.

The most rewarding aspect of my time at Harvard Extension was when I completed a semester after an intense learning journey. The academic integrity and uncompromising mentality to keep upholding the Harvard standard resulted in a satisfying and fulfilling experience.

The knowledge and skills that I acquired throughout the degree program have transformed me professionally and academically.

Gaurav Parajuli

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

When I left Nepal 17 years ago in pursuit of further education I never thought I would one day graduate from one of the world's most renowned universities. After my degree from Brunel University in West London UK, I migrated to the US in search of a better career. I had no American dream at that time. After a couple of years of working, I decided to pursue a part-time master's degree program that I thought would help propel my career further and provide deeper insights into American lifestyle and academic culture. I decided to join none other than Harvard Extension school for their ALM program in the field of Management. Things that fascinated me about Harvard Extension school: being part of the best academic institution, opportunity to learn and grow along with the best scholars, Harvard Extension School’s curriculum, its admission process, and the a-la-carte-style degree program structure.

Five years after the start of the course I am still thrilled about my decision. Learnings from courses, lectures, and specific discussions with professors, TAs, and widely diverse colleagues are all archived in my memory. I am taking all those memories with me for the rest of my life.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife, daughter, parents, and relatives for helping me achieve this degree. It’s one-of-a-kind in my family and I'm happy to make you all proud. And yes I also have an American dream now. Thanks for the opportunity Harvard University.

Anthony Kegode

Master of Liberal Arts, Finance

I am very proud to be finally here. I began my journey in 2010 and after this graduation I will have gained three degrees through Harvard Extension School. I have thoroughly enjoyed my educational experience, and benefitted a great deal from the formats and educational presentations that have allowed me to work and attend Harvard at the same time. I have particularly enjoyed invaluable on-campus experiences, which gave me the pleasure of getting engrained in Harvard cultural proficiencies, whilst meeting and interacting with fellow students in an invaluable understanding of collaboration, and partaking in educational discovery. My next task is to carry the Harvard brand proudly, and to be an ambassador of all the wholesome social and edifying values that this university, its faculty, and student body have afforded me.

Brian Bauer

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability

If you like value and world-class quality, Harvard Extension School is for you.

From the first class in my sustainability program to finishing my capstone, each class was brilliantly executed by a passionate instructor. The ability to learn online enabled me to connect with professionals from all over the world. I had classes with students working for the UN, the World Bank, and several were sustainability executives for Fortune 500s. Working on case studies with accomplished professionals, from all over the world created an unparalleled, innovative, globally connected learning environment.

Since completing my studies, I have taken this online idea, applied my sustainability knowledge, and developed this into a rewarding career. From Chile, I work with the Plastic Bank, a Canadian team of world-class social entrepreneurs working in the Philippines and Haiti to use blockchain technology to capture millions of pounds of ocean plastic and cycle this plastic into the supply chains of some of the world’s largest brands.

In Chile and Colombia, I work with a social enterprise called Algramo. Both companies have been featured in 100s of media spotlights and are set to impact millions. My most notable work related success is winning Algramo a $800,000 grant. Academically, my greatest accomplishment is receiving 2017’s Dean’s Prize for Outstanding ALM Capstone. I attribute much of my success to the exceptional academic foundation the Extension School has provided me.

Fadwa Khalil

Master of Liberal Arts, Information Management Systems

This is a great achievement I have accomplished. However, we all know achievements may fade or even be forgotten and the diploma may gather dust on a shelf or in a drawer. But, what I will always remember is that nothing at all was able to stop me from succeeding in this very challenging adventure. I have had many different obstacles in life. I was imprisoned from the outside world, I fled from an abusive husband, I faced family hardship, I struggled financial setbacks—but none of that could stop me from achieving my dream.

I learned from Harvard. I learned that nothing is impossible. I learned how to face and tackle the inevitable changes, how to hold true to myself and stay strong, how to hold onto my value system and my work ethic. It is these qualities that I know will guide me further on my journey.

Thank you, Harvard, for making my dream come true, for setting me strong and free, for giving me the chance to meet unique and intelligent staff and students.

Cathryn Buonocore

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability

I had come to the sustainability field after learning about green building from serving a year in AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity. From that, I originally thought I'd go into green building practices until I took Life Cycle Assessment with Gregory Norris. I found a real affinity for the thoroughness of the methodology and broad applicability of it.

The life changing experience for me was in applying it in a place where it is only just beginning to gain a small foothold ... the world of digital technology and digital distribution of media, which I explored in my thesis on video games (which was additional fun as a lifelong lover of video games!) Now I am beginning to apply it in another place where it hasn't been used much ... in footprinting events.

None of this would have been possible without my experience at the Harvard Extension School.

Sadaf Qayumi

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

I have a passion for learning. The more I learn, the more curious I become. Harvard began as a dream that one day turned into an idea and that idea became a reality. I was a little girl born in Kabul, Afghanistan, who got lucky enough to escape the war for a free life in Canada. A life where I could dare to dream and even make those dreams a reality. I remember walking the streets of Harvard Square for the first time, feeling like somehow, I got lucky again and maybe I was dreaming too big. After attending my strategic management class, I had this tranquil feeling; I knew I was meant to be here.

I firmly believe that the pursuit of continuous learning opens the doors to lifelong adventures. And what a great adventure it has been! I have had the opportunity to learn and connect with unbelievable people from around the globe with perspectives that have introduced me to new possibilities in life. During my studies at Harvard, I discovered my life purpose—to help people reach their full potential. I have changed careers and I’m pursuing a life of purpose.

I have never been so excited for the future and I no longer hesitate to dream big. I want to thank my family, friends, and mentors for taking this journey with me. I couldn’t have done this without you! I would like to thank my professors for giving me the gift of learning, and I want you to know that I am still learning!

Swathy Puthucode Sivaraman

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability

A moment that changed my life: having moved into the city that is known for the best universities, I wanted to experience what it was to attend a class in the world's most prestigious college. As a mother without a job, I was often sad and irritated. One day, I visited the Harvard website and started looking at options to further my studies. I came across the Extension School, which gave me the opportunity to study at my pace. I registered for a class the following day.

First, attending classes at Harvard was a far-fetched dream. Sitting in a classroom with some of the best professors was an overwhelming feeling I still can't explain.

Here I am graduating with a Master of Liberal Arts in the field of sustainability. The Harvard name is one that I wear with pride. The minute I returned to my country, India, I got an opportunity to become a partner in a design firm at the age of 33. I could not have asked for anything more enriching in my life. This graduation is a culmination of all my hopes and dreams—a moment that will be cherished for the rest of my life.

Felix Ashu

Master of Liberal Arts, Finance

For me, Harvard University created a truly unique academic and professional experience. I developed a stronger interest in finance a couple of years after completing an MBA in accounting from NM Highlands University. However, I did not explore that field because I wanted to practice and specialize solely in tax accounting. The burning passion for finance reemerged shortly after I started law school. So, I did not hesitate to apply to this program when I got the opportunity to do so, despite being unsure how I was going to study for both degrees at the same time.

The flexibility of the program was definitely an added advantage. Because I knew this was the only opportunity to complete the degree concurrently with my law degree, life was extremely uncomfortable. However, I did not lose faith. I stood strong—thanks to support from my employer, family, and friends.

The valuable academic experience from the Extension School bolstered my career in the pharmaceutical industry, as the CFO for Meridian Pharmacy Group. I also serve on the AAFM Board of Honorary Global Advisors and am licensed and certified as an accredited financial analyst, an accredited management consultant, a master financial planner, and a chartered portfolio manager.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my education at the Extension School has prepared me to face the challenges of the financial world and the economy as a whole. I feel prepared to face any new challenges.

Saiful Hasan

Master of Liberal Arts, Information Management Systems

Unquestionably, it was a major decision to get back to school while working full time and having a family with 3 kids. But I am glad I made that decision. This was an awesome learning experience that provided me with a world-class education. Quite frankly, I already had my fair share of college education in electrical engineering in the US, and I got the impression that the expectation at this level is for students to fend for themselves with minimal guidance from the faculty. So, I was surprised and equally impressed to find professors at Harvard—often authorities in their field of specialization—who are engaging and provide clear sets of instructions and guidance.

From the outset, I set for myself two simple objectives: 1) make the best out of the learning experience 2) graduate with a perfect score. By the mercy of God, I pursued those objectives with dogged determination, passion, optimism, and hard work, which allowed me to graduate today with a GPA of 4.0. I tell my kids that this the standard I have set for you, and if Daddy can do it, so can you. Never lose faith in yourself and the One who brought you to life and gave you the faculties to pursue your dreams.

Lisa Finch

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

When I decided to attend Harvard Extension School, I felt stagnant and was looking for a way to be more than just a designer. As a fine and graphic artist, I knew that I wanted to change and gain a better understanding of the business world. After three and a half years attending classes and spending almost three years working with Harvard Medical School, I have emerged much more confident and grateful. Each professor that I have had has taught me valuable lessons and shown me that I have the confidence to do what I set out to do. My whole life has changed in positive ways, more than I ever imagined.

Here are the highlights:

Mostly, I've learned more alternatives to figuring things out! This was a common thread in my classes. Dr. John Komlos advised me to enjoy life more and not work as much. He made me think about the world and be more compassionate. Since starting school, I've sold a house and entered the real estate remodeling and design world thanks to Teo Nicolais. I've made better organizational decisions and realized that I do not belong stuck in a cubicle, thank you Dr. Carmine Gibaldi. I found my voice for public speaking and became a better writer thanks to Dr. Mimi Goss. And I've learned to stay calmer under pressure and be a better negotiator thanks to Dr. Maurie Kelly.

The teachings from world-class instructors and the friends and colleagues that I have met will stay with me and shape all of my endeavors. Best of luck to my fellow graduates!

Michael Pittman

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

Class participation and group projects were major themes in classes for the degree. My favorite memory and what I am most proud of are my classmates putting together great presentations and reports, and their insightful discussions, which I read and heard.

Ezgi Ozkok

Master of Liberal Arts, Management

It has been a long long journey since 2013 and here is the end. My husband asked me the night before Commencement if I was excited. I was and still am excited but not only for being part of that huge event and celebration but for the whole journey which brought me to that moment. This is for many reasons. Firstly, it has been amazing professional development. After this four-year journey, I now feel like I can have much more impact in my workplace, which I'm going into very soon and am very excited about. Secondly, these four years were a personal discovery which I've gone into my brain and my heart, and got myself much better. Most importantly though, it has been great learning experience in terms of relationships. I built very valuable relationships with my professors and classmates from all over the world through online and on-campus courses; I gained unforgettable friendships from other countries and cultures, which I know are going to last forever; last but not least, I strengthened my relationships with my friends and family who have been great supporters during all this time. This was amazing experience. I feel like I am a new person now.

Parasaran Rangarajan

Bachelor of Liberal Arts, International Relations

I began my academic journey after high school wanting to be a medical doctor. I immediately left to India after high school as I gained admission with a partner of Harvard Medical International.

When doing medical relief and aid work in the slums of a third-world country, I realized that my dream was intrinsically linked with helping people in the most efficient way possible. Shortly after, I started taking classes online at Harvard Extension School while working as the editor-in-chief for the International Law Journal of London and then gained admission into the Bachelors program. Interacting with professors from the various schools of Harvard, including but not limited to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government allowed me to thoroughly understand what it takes to succeed in this field.

While my focus was not journalism, I was inspired to write for the Harvard International Review and Harvard Crimson newspaper on topics of foreign affairs as well as international law. I was able to publish over 45 research papers in various reputed outlets around the world, gain a position as an analyst at a reputed think tank, and make a reputation for myself as a expert in related issues—something which I completely attribute to the training which I received at Harvard.