Pioneer on Campus: Harvard University

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Pioneer Alumni at Harvard

Pioneer on Campus is back again, this time in Boston! In this series, we share some examples of past “Pioneer on Campus” events, organized by Pioneer alumni. These events are informal, casual meetups where Pioneer alumni connect and learn more about each other’s research and interests.

Harvard University – an Ivy League University that needs no introduction, having schooled elite students for nearly 400 years. As time has passed, Harvard has become even more selective, with only 5% of applicants admitted in 2020. Fortunately, Pioneer’s program prepared many potential Harvard students for the rigors of this institution, with 22 Scholars admitted between 2019 and 2020.

So what will you find at Harvard? Books for one. The Harvard Depository consists of 47 aisles of books, each holding 400,000 volumes. This means it would take you around 1,000 years to finish a single aisle of books, depending on your reading speed, of course!

Pioneer scholars attending Harvard did not have that much time to connect, instead relying on a single evening to engage with research minded peers who had completed the program. Pioneer alumni Langa (2021, sociology) from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, graciously organized the event, and saw that her fears around lack of attendance were unfounded. 

I really wanted to get to know the other Pioneer Alumni on campus and hear about their research. I was also curious to see if they had put their research to use in college. Organizing the event was a bit scary because I was afraid people wouldn’t show up, even though many had RSVP’d because Harvard students have a reputation of RSVP’ing then not showing up,” she said. “We were a small group so we had a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level, which was fun. And it turned out that a lot of us were international students and the group was very diverse so it was great to hear about where people came from.”

Lal (2019, economics) from Istanbul, Turkey, was another Pioneer scholar and Harvard student who made it to the gettogether. She also commented on the diversity of backgrounds and interests of those who came out to mingle with their peers. “The event was the perfect opportunity for me to get to know other alumni who are coming from diverse backgrounds with multitudes of different interests, ranging from Economics to Molecular Biology.”

She expressed her continued appreciation of the friendly, supportive atmosphere that exists when a group of scholars find the opportunity to meet. And, in Lal’s case, sometimes fellow Pioneer alumni are closer than you think! 

“I decided to attend the event because so far, the Pioneer alumni community has been incredibly welcoming, genuine and generous, so meeting other researchers with whom I share the common experience of Pioneer has been delightful, to say the least,” Lal related. “One of the highlights of the event was realizing that one of the alumni happened to be my neighbor, living just downstairs of my room! Although we haven’t had the opportunity to connect before, the Pioneer on Campus event certainly made us closer.”

Overall, the event was a great opportunity for all Pioneer alumni at Harvard to connect and share experiences and advice. Stay tuned for future Pioneer on Campus events at other universities. To learn more about Pioneer and our alumni network, check out our official Instagram @Pioneer_Academics, our student-run Instagram page @scholarsofpioneer, or our LinkedIn page.

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