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Harvard University

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Date: Mar 11 2009
Major: English (This Major's Salary over time)
I'm not the typical Harvard student; my dad was a sign painter, my mom a secretary, and neither had the chance to go to college. The only reason I could attend is because of a generous financial aid package (scholarship/work-study job/negligible NDSL loan at 3% interest). What an incredible gift! My only regret is being unable to take part in many extracurriculars because of having to work 15-20 hours per week.

While not as well prepared as many of my classmates, I held my own by working hard (reading more than 1000 pages a week as an honors English concentrator) and seeking the help of professors and teaching fellows (all of whom were more than generous with their time and attention).

Since leaving Harvard, I've followed a different path than most alumni, becoming a teacher of students who are Deaf or who have other special needs. For me, success isn't measured by money, but by one's positive influence on the world. Several of my former students have told me that I had a positive effect on them. Nice as that was to hear, I already knew it. I had known it from the moment I saw them develop a love of reading because I had shown them the magic to be found in books; I had heard it every time they asked me “why because I had encouraged them to question; I had felt it every time they persisted in trying even though a task was difficult or the reward not immediately apparent. At such moments, I have felt more successful than any world leader or titan of industry.

Is Harvard for everyone? No. Does it confer some magic that shields from all life's ills? No. What it does is open doors. Seeing "Harvard" on a resume is enough to make most prospective employers grant you an interview; from there, you're on your own.

Going to Harvard can be one of the most inspiring experiences in the world, or it can be completely ego deflating. As with any opportunity, what you get out of it is largely a result of what you put into it—and of the attitude with which you approach the experience.

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