Emma Rose Cohen

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Emma Rose Cohen

Place of Residence

Whistler, British Columbia

Program

Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability, 2018

Professional Field

Co-Founder, FinalStraw

Prior Education

Bachelor's degree in neuroscience, University of California, Santa Barbara
I ended up pivoting a bit on my master’s thesis and turning that into a business plan. My Kickstarter for FinalStraw just hit $1 million in sales after just three weeks, so my crazy idea is now an official business.

May 2018

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

I have been interested in sustainability for a while and knew it was the field I wanted to go into. I had no idea what kind of career I wanted, I just knew I wanted to help save the world. In 2015, I was in an MBA program and was miserable. It was not challenging and felt like a waste of my time. My boss recommended I check out the Harvard Extension program and as soon as I read the description, I knew it was perfect.

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

I ended up pivoting a bit on my master’s thesis and turning that into a business plan. My Kickstarter for FinalStraw just hit $1 million in sales after just three weeks, so my crazy idea is now an official business.

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

The most rewarding experience for me was the class Catalyzing Sustainable Change by Leith Sharp and John Spengler. It was the most interesting class I have ever taken in my life and it was so different from anything that is usually taught in a classroom. Leith is a master orator and every lecture makes you want to run out of the classroom and do something amazing.

How did you manage to balance your studies with work and family responsibilities?

I was able to balance my studies with work, family, and exercise by multitasking. I would bring my books to the gym every day and sit on the bike and read. I downloaded lectures on my phone and would take my dog for a hike while I listened to them. I did homework on my lunch break. Anywhere there was overlap with work and school, I would try and use that to my benefit.

Describe your Harvard Extension School experience in one word.

Game-changer.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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