It has been WAY too long. Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. My answers to these questions are, “I don’t know, and EVERYTHING!”
So to catch you up from the beginning:
Last time I posted, I talked about joining the Officer team at the Phillip Brooks House Association – a student-led 501c3 nonprofit based on Harvard’s campus that supports more than 85 programs, 1,400 student volunteers, and 10,000 low income people in the Boston area. Since then, I have come to know a team of twenty amazing individuals who are devoted to public service and making the world a better place. I have learned from their ideas, their passions, their anxieties, and even after only three months, I feel that I have come to know and trust these people explicitly. The other thing I can honestly say about PBHA – I have learned more in my three months as an Officer than I have in my entire time at Harvard. Not that classes here aren’t amazing or anything, but if you read on you’ll see what I am saying.
Over January break, we all came back a week early to go through NPMI (Non-Profit Management Intensive), where we learned about everything from budgeting to meeting facilitation, from student development to strategic management. To say this was a crash course would be an understatement. This week culminated in a final Officers Retreat we took in Maine, where we were greeted with plenty of snow, plenty of hot chocolate, plenty of Apples to Apples, and plenty of meetings.
At the same time we were putting our new found skills to the test by planning Cabinet Retreat – a meeting off campus with all of the directors of the 85 different programs for an entire day. This is the largest thing I have ever organized. It also involved me writing my first ever training, leading my first ever training on Volunteer Management, speaking perhaps in front of one of largest audiences I have ever spoken in front of, and writing the largest check I have ever written for the rental of the space: Hibernian Hall.
But the day finally came on January 28th when we bussed everyone over to Dorchester, and it went GREAT! Better than great, in fact. The facility was everything we had hoped and more, our fledgling Officer team put its heart and soul into making sure everything ran smoothly, and the feedback from directors was overwhelmingly positive. This was by far my proudest moment since stepping onto Harvard’s campus a year and a half ago.
But with that accomplishment behind us, we now faced the obstacle of scheduling. As I have said before in one of my blog posts, scheduling at Harvard is a nightmare. Even friends are forced to stop each other on the sidewalk and write in dining hall meet-ups into their phone calendars. So to try to schedule three major meetings a week (two of which I lead with my co-chair Winnie) was soooooo stressful. In the end we got it down, and let me say, leading multiple two-hour meetings a week teaches you a thing or two about flip charts, agendas, and organization.
Since January, our team has done so much and led so many tough conversations – we have organized another Cabinet meeting and we have our third one this Thursday night, we have talked the need for Programmatic Quality Standards, and Director Accountability, we have organized Director-Officer Teams (or DOTs) to grab dinner together and create more community among volunteers, and we are in the process of creating a new database and hiring a new Deputy Director.
In short, PBHA has taken over my life – but in so many positive ways! I can think of nothing I would rather devote my time to, and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many great people who are devoted to such a great purpose.
Other things I have been doing include serving as New Member Director for my sorority on campus – Kappa Alpha Theta! We run our Recruitment process at the beginning of second semester, and it was so much fun to meet so many awesome girls and bond with the other women in my sorority. Our very own blogger Jeanie is in Theta with me, so we were sure to take a picture for you guys!
Since Recruitment, I have been leading meetings for the new members to introduce them to Theta! It has been amazing (and yes, I have brought my PBHA meeting facilitation skills, flip charts and all, with me to Theta meetings).
The final big activity I am doing on campus is serving as a Fundraising Director for Harvard University Women in Business. So far this semester, we have devoted our fundraising efforts toward the New York Trip that we sponsor every year for Harvard women to visit some of NYC’s top companies. Soon, we will be switching gears to the effort I am directing – Intercollegiate Business Convention fundraising. IBC is a HUGE conference HUWIB hosts every fall for women’s business organizations from colleges across the country. I will be sure to write more about it in the future, when my blog post isn’t so long 😛
Finally, I am still volunteering for my original PBHA program, Elderly 1-2-1, and of course, I am still a student at Harvard taking classes (though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it)! This semester, I decided to take only three classes – History 97, which is my sophomore tutorial, History 1433: American Populism, which traces American history through a Populist lens, and Economics 1010b: Macroeconomics.
Oh, and before I forget, other great news this semester – I moved into a single (pictures to come when my room isn’t quite so messy)!
That’s all folks! And don’t worry, I will be posting regularly from now on, so check back! I’ll leave you with a picture from my spring break at home in Pittsburgh!