Harvard Extension School welcomed around 350 recently admitted degree candidates at its second annual convocation on Saturday at Memorial Church.
This year, the Extension School admitted over 1500 students to its various degree programs, Dean of Academic Programs Suzanne C. Spreadbury said in her speech. Students at the convocation have been taking Extension School courses for several semesters already. Completing two to three degree courses is required before students can apply for program admission.
In her address, Spreadbury said the recently admitted students came from 54 countries and included more than 100 US veterans or active military members. She also said most of the students were full time professionals in their thirties.
Other speakers at the event highlighted the sacrifices that students and families make to accommodate classes while working full time. Michael F. Fabiano, the president of the Harvard Extension Alumni Association, acknowledged the difficulty of balancing classes with a family, job, and other commitments.
“You have to be the biggest advocate for your time, and you have to make it all work — kids’ soccer games included,” he said.
The last speaker, Dean of the Division of Continuing Education Huntington D. Lambert, urged students to feel like they belong at Harvard, a sentiment that other speakers expressed, too.
“One of my most proud accomplishments since I’ve been here is, for the first time in history, the rest of Harvard — all the professional schools, the Corporation, Board of Overseers, and senior management — all understand who the Extension School is and what it does, and why it’s earned a place at Harvard,” he said. “Anybody who tells you you’re not really at Harvard, correct them. They’re wrong."
Bachelor of Liberal Arts candidate Colton S. Eicher said some of the speeches’ focus on inclusion stuck out to him.
“It is kind of weird coming in through this door and trying to find a community within the Harvard community. I found that somewhat difficult, but I could imagine if you’re not on campus it’s even harder,” he said.
Jennifer H. Devine, who is pursuing a masters in management at the Extension School, said she thought acknowledging family members' roles in students’ lives was significant.
“They are the often all too silent heroes,” Devine said. “It was very important and poignant for me to make sure that they got that public acknowledgement.“
The Extension School serves students around the world, and the audience members hailed from many different cities. Keysha W. Taylor, a recently admitted Bachelor of Liberal Arts candidate, said she had traveled to Cambridge from North Carolina, and had met other audience members from Alaska and Canada.
A livestream was available for students too far away to attend, like Arohi J. Bangera, who lives in Dubai and is pursuing an A.L.M. in Digital Media Design. In an interview two weeks ago, she said she planned on watching the event.
“The tickets are really expensive, and I'm going to be there for like two days,” she said. “But I will tune into the livestream. I saw the highlights from last year's convocation, and I thought that it was really beautiful.”
—Staff writer Lucy Liu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.