Jelena Dowey

Student Spotlight

Jelena Dowey

Place of Residence

Moyeuvre, France

Program

Master of Liberal Arts, Software Engineering

Professional Field

Information Technology

Prior Education

Bachelor’s and graduate studies in computer science, Riga Technical University
The most rewarding aspect was the depth of knowledge that I acquired. I tended to favor courses where the syllabus spoke to me, covering areas where I knew that I wanted to acquire new skills.

Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?

My husband started taking courses at Harvard Extension School first. And it was a little bit like a bug. I saw what he was getting out of his studies, so I decided to try it myself and get into web development. 

The first course I took was Jen Kramer’s course on front-end web design. My husband and I are both goal-oriented. So we decided that pursuing a degree was the best way to study. And we thought that it would be neat for our kids to see us both walk to the podium to get our degrees at the same Commencement, so I adjusted my pace to make that happen. 

Harvard Extension is, by far, the best place for graduate studies while maintaining a busy family life. All the courses I have taken have been given by exceptional faculty who cared about both the students’ learning and their well-being in the course.

How has this experience helped you in your career or personal development?

While I am not working professionally now, my studies have allowed me to keep on the cutting edge of IT developments and web technologies. And class projects have kept me in touch with those working in the field. In terms of personal development, I have developed my skills in researching new topics and technologies. And I have become more comfortable in presenting my ideas in both written and verbal forms.

At Harvard Extension, I found the courses to be both practical and challenging at the same time. I am confident that when I do return to work, I will have the skills that the market is looking for. Actually, I am thinking that I may prefer to start my own business to leverage my Extension studies, focusing on mobile applications.

What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Extension? What was the most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect at the beginning was to keep up with the demanding pace of studies. With small children, it required good organization, lots of multitasking, and often late-night studying. I didn’t want to compromise on my studies, but I also didn’t want to take time away from my family. It was a challenge. 

The most rewarding aspect was the depth of knowledge that I acquired. I tended to favor courses where the syllabus spoke to me, covering areas where I knew that I wanted to acquire new skills. So each time I finished a course, I felt that I had turned over a new stone.

Do you have any advice for new students?

Get ready for very rigorous studies that are worth it. Try not to be rushed. But set a pace where you can get the most out of each course, saving time to perhaps deep dive into additional topics. Take advantage of the open advice and help of the teaching staff, since generally they are teaching the courses due to their own passion for the topic. Make the most of the class projects to do things that you want to discover, even if this means more research and slower initial progress, In the end it is worth it.

Describe your Extension School experience in one word.

Enriching

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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