Dear Class of 2024,
Congratulations! I wish we could be celebrating this milestone under different circumstances; however, it doesn’t take away how special this moment is. I cannot believe I was in your shoes four years ago! That simultaneously feels like eternities ago and just yesterday. Reflecting on the last four years, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to explore my academic interests, conduct independent research, travel, and study abroad. Most importantly, I am thankful for the communities I have joined and the friendships I’ve developed.
Here's what I would tell myself if I were in your shoes and what I hope you take into consideration as you begin this next step!
You belong here! As W.E.B Du Bois eloquently put it, “The honor, I assure you, was Harvard’s”. Harvard is lucky to have you! During my first few months, I felt pangs of imposter syndrome and it took finding my support system and taking advantage of resources to feel at home. Throughout my time here, I have found a wide range of support from the Academic Resource Center, mental health counseling, and personal and academic guidance from my web of formal and informal advisors.
Don’t be afraid to advocate for structural change! No institution is perfect and as students, we hold a special position and can shape our university. I have felt the most solidarity, inclusion, and radical love in activist spaces on campus. I draw strength in knowing that we are part of a historical line of student activists and that after we leave new students will take our spots and continue to make Harvard better.
Leave the Harvard bubble! I cannot say this enough. One of the great things about attending Harvard is living in Cambridge and being a short subway ride away from Boston. Explore your new home! Join a Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) program, one of the largest on campus organizations with over 80 student-run, community-based programs! This is how I found out about East Boston’s vibrant Latinx community and the best places to eat food that reminded me of home. I also highly encourage you, if possible, to study abroad term time! While I was initially afraid of leaving and missing out, I gained an incredible opportunity to expand my classroom.
You don’t have to book your schedule solid from the time you wake up till dinner! I, like many first years eagerly signed up for lots of clubs and took on leadership positions on boards. I wish that just as I set time for club meetings, that I also blocked off time for self-care and for unstructured "me time"! At the risk of sounding cheesy, and in reflecting on my last few days on campus, take a moment and smell the roses. Harvard is just as much about the little things as big things! Smile when you see someone from last semester’s class on the streets. Get that meal with someone. Take a good look at what’s around you when you speedily walk through Harvard Yard. Take the night to sing 2000s pop karaoke with your blockmates. Say yes when your friends ask you to join them to see the sunrise at the beach.
With so much love,
A Nostalgic Senior