Summers Working at Harvard

Category Student Voices


College student, Alexa
Alexa Class of '20 Alumni
Authored on February 21, 2019


Since arriving at Harvard, I have spent both of my summers on campus, and I will be here over the summer again this year.

My first summer, I worked full time for the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program giving tours, answering questions of prospective students, and performing other duties as a student coordinator for the Admissions Office. I have kept this job term-time for the last two years and I now serve as a senior coordinator for the group. I think the work we do is super important, and I am happy the opportunity to work for them full-time is how I spent my first summer here!

After working for the UMRP freshman summer, I decided to devote last summer to working with Roxbury Youth Initiative (RYI), a summer program run through the Phillips Brooks House at Harvard. As a director, my job was to essentially make the camp run, which included hiring staff, orchestrating field trips, licensing the camp, working out and maintaining a site agreement, collecting camper applications, enrolling all eighty-five of our kids in the program and placing them in their classrooms, and a plethora of other tasks. It was a lot of work, but easily the most transformative, guiding experience of my life thus far. Working with SUP let me know that my passion involves working with kids and doing what I can to work to counteract the effects of educational inequality.

Two students with their arms painted that read: "RYI"

RYI campers with their arms painted.

Over the course of the summer, there were countless good times and priceless memories made with our kids. Midsummer Celebration where all 10 Summer Urban Program camps come together for a night of games, bouncy houses, and camp performances sticks out. The last day of camp where everyone in a mile ratio of the site was crying in anticipation of saying goodbye sticks out. All the water balloon fights, breakthroughs, games, books, and our overnight trip to Roll on American all come to mind. However, arguably my favorite moment was when a camper in our Green group (ages 7-9, primarily 8-year-olds) made me a card to thank me for planning our field trips.

a portrait drawing of the author with the title "Miss Alexa"

A portrait of me as drawn by a camper.

As I gear up for my second summer with RYI (again as a director), I am incredibly excited to get back to our kids and the safe community we have created at my camp. Of our senior staff, 8/10 will be returners this year, compared with 1/10 last year, giving us a unique opportunity to continue to build upon the foundation of love and learning we created last summer. There's no place like home, and I am happy to have found mine at RYI.

Kids running into the water at the lake

RYI campers running into the water at the lake during our camping trip.