March 14, 2022
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Branch/MOS: U.S. Army, 37F (Psychological Operations Specialist), 11B (Infantryman)
What motivated you to apply to HLS?
My mother. She used to tell me about Harvard when I was very young. She described it as the epicenter of brilliance and dreamt that I would one day attend a university as great. To give me a fighting chance, she had sold everything that didn’t fit in our duffle bag to move us from Georgia (the country) to Germany, where she faced far more than her fair share of adversity. Some 20 years later, I applied to HLS.
What concerns were on your mind when you applied to HLS?
That I was not smart enough to ever get in and that my peers were blessed with a gift I simply did not possess.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself now?
Do not compare yourself to others and do not assume that you know what HLS is looking for. Do not disqualify yourself before you apply; let admissions do their job. If you are a veteran, chances are you have experienced something most HLS students have not and can therefore contribute in a unique way. Believe in yourself, because HLS does.
What were you concerned about after being accepted to HLS?
Having seen “The Paper Chase” more than once, I was afraid that our professors would delight in exposing our weaknesses – much like the drill sergeants we’re all too familiar with.
How has being a student at HLS addressed those concerns?
I could not have been more wrong. While all professors love to stimulate class discussions with thought-provoking questions, which can be daunting at times, they are also incredibly supportive. I was amazed by how approachable, dedicated, caring, and humorous all my professors were. Right on time for the cold weather, one professor even knitted beanies for the entire class. The amount of support, both from my cohort and the faculty, has exceeded all of my expectations.
How has your military experience helped you at HLS?
The Army is good at a lot of things, but it’s great at (sometimes forcefully) expanding comfort zones. If you’re used to waking up early, working hard, and tackling challenges you have never faced before, you’ll do just fine at HLS. Being at HLS is far from easy, but no class starts earlier than PT formation, no task is as draining as a long ruck march after Christmas break, and nobody is as ill-tempered as your Sergeant Major.