Dozens of Harvard juniors gathered in the Science Center Sunday to reflect on past experiences, their “sense of self,” and plans for the future after three years at the College.
The event, called “Class of 2018 Reflects,” looked to gather juniors together as a class for an event that organizers characterized as one of few opportunities for the Class of 2018 to come together as a whole.
Opening the event, Liv F. Novick ’17 and Osaremen F. Okolo ’17 said they noticed a lack of class-wide programming during their junior year. This spring, Novick, Okolo, and organizers Caie C. Kelley ’18 and Berkeley Brown ’18 worked together to plan the first-ever junior reflection event for Class of 2018.
Twelve juniors—all leaders of undergraduate student organizations—and three recent alumni spoke on Sunday, with remarks on subjects ranging from sense of identity at Harvard, experiences specific to the junior year, and plans for senior year and beyond.
“It seems as if junior year is underappreciated which is surprising because we found that junior year was one of our most transformative years,” Novick said, adding that junior year is typically the only one at Harvard without a class-wide event.
The event’s speakers, who delivered remarks as prospective students toured Harvard for Visitas, all agreed that interacting with classmates has changed them for the better since arriving at the College.
“My sense of self is only at its A-game when I have leaned on other people and they have leaned on me,” said Undergraduate Council President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18.
Marcus K. Granderson ’18, incoming president of the Kuumba Singers, said he hopes to better look out for others as he enters his senior year.
“Harvard has a way of making us accidental narcissists,” he said. “Let us do as much as we can to make people feel noticed, cared for, valued and loved, and if we do that, we can more easily look back at our senior years and say there were no regrets.”
Students and alumni also emphasized the importance of appreciating the present instead of always planning for the future.
“There’s nothing more important to me than thinking through what am I doing at this present moment to live a good life,” said Phillips Brooks House Association President Leszek R. Krol ’18.
For Black Students Association President Shantell Williams ’18, pressure to think about the future characterized some of her time at Harvard.
“I realized I wasn’t truly living. I was very much focused on what I wanted to do and felt very much like the clock was ticking and I couldn’t fully take part in any one thing,” Williams said.
—Staff writer Edith M. Herwitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @edith_herwitz.