We’re pleased to welcome Assistant Director Sam Parker, who has joined the J.D. Admissions team after spending a few years with the HLS Dean of Students Office.
Welcome Sam! We are incredibly pleased that you’ve joined the team. Tell us about your academic and professional path so far.
I am so excited to be joining the HLS J.D. Admissions Team! I have always wanted to work in education, so after I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015, I stayed on campus to direct the College’s Outdoors Orientation Program for the incoming Class of 2019. From there, I migrated to Boston and worked for EF College Study Tours, where I recruited and trained more than 80 Professors annually to lead college students on experiential learning programs abroad. While I really enjoyed this role, I realized that my true passion was working with and for students, so I accepted a job with Hult International Business School as a Student Services and Events Coordinator. There, I supported 1,000 graduate students from over 100 different countries as a mentor, event collaborator, and student affairs administrator. My role at Hult inspired me to continue my education and pursue a graduate degree in Higher Education, so I moved over to the Harvard Law School Dean of Students Office where I was able to continue to work with and support students while pursuing my master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I have loved working at HLS over the last three years, and I am excited to continue my work in the J.D. Admissions Office where I will help recruit, admit, and onboard the Class of 2024.
What inspired you to pivot into admissions work and what excites you about this next step?
I have always wanted to work in admissions because of my passion for expanding access to Higher Education. As a Kansas native and former public school student, I never expected to get into a school like Harvard. And even if I did get in, I assumed I wouldn’t fit in with the culture or find success academically. In fact, I never would have applied to Dartmouth College, my alma mater, if not for my friend Heidi, who encouraged me to apply. At the time, I’d never heard of the school. When I got my acceptance letter, I was in disbelief. I felt lucky to be given the opportunity to attend an Ivy League School, a term I had recently learned, but I was fearful that the admissions office had made a mistake. I assumed I would be the dumbest person in my class. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! I was able to find a community at Dartmouth, pursue my passions, and excel academically. Why do I want to work in admissions? Because, like me, there are hundreds of thousands of people who opt out of applying to a school like Harvard because they don’t see it as a realistic option for them. I want to change the narrative that Harvard Law School is only for certain types of people because it’s not. Harvard Law School is what you make of it, and students of all kinds are able to thrive here. If you have an interest in applying to Harvard Law School, I have an interest in helping you do so.
So far, what have you noticed are the biggest differences between working in student affairs and admissions?
The amount of reading! In student affairs, I spent most of my time running events, meeting with students, and answering questions via phone and email. In admissions, I still get to do these things with the added bonus of reading hundreds of applications.
You’ve got some deep familiarity with Harvard Law School already. What’s your favorite aspect of working at HLS?
The students! As cliché as it sounds, our students want to make an impact. They want to make the world a better place, and they do this via ground-breaking legal research, activism, clinical work, and engagement in communities both local and international. When I started working at HLS, I was blown away by the passion, dedication, ingenuity, compassion, generosity, and enthusiasm of our students.
Given your familiarity with student life at HLS, I have an admissions question for you: What is something prospective applicants should know about the HLS student community?
The HLS community is vibrant. With 93 student organizations, 17 journals, 11 student practice organizations, 44 clinics, and 65 research centers and programs, our students are engaged and active. On any given day, you will find students hosting dozens of events, workshops, and meetings to supplement and enhance their education and to practice skills learned in the classroom. In fact, our students plan more events than any other Harvard school!
You’ve been in the New England area for your undergraduate experience at Dartmouth College, graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and now for most of your professional career. What do you like most about living here?
I love the change of the seasons. Here in New England, we are lucky to get all four seasons, and they are all uniquely spectacular! The fall brings beautiful tri-color foliage, the winter brings snow for outdoors adventuring, the spring brings flowers and baseball at Fenway to cheer on the Red Sox, and the summer brings warm, relaxing beach days. It is the best!
How do you spend your free time?
I am a cat lover, outdoors enthusiast, and foodie, so I spend most of my free time hanging out with my eccentric fluffernutter of a cat, Mercy, hiking and/or camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and exploring new restaurants in Cambridge and Somerville. Fun fact, I have hiked all 48, 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire. If you want ideas on where to run, hike, bike, camp, kayak, and more in the Greater Boston area, hit me up!