Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Abel Berhan - Story of Self

My name is Abel Berhan and I’m currently a junior studying Sociology with a secondary in African-American Studies and living in Cabot House. Before coming to Harvard, I knew that I was interested in policy and different issues affecting marginalized communities, such as education and mass incarceration. But I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to study or how I wanted to pursue my interests. Thus, I was excited for the opportunity to explore my passions through coursework and extracurriculars.  

Throughout my time at Harvard, I found interests and joy in various extracurriculars, such as Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the IOP Fellows Study Group, the David Walker Scholars Program (a mentorship and tutoring program for elementary students of color), LEDA Policy Corp, etc. Through these organizations I’ve been able to grow my different interests and form so many meaningful relationships. Some of these activities I’ve been able to continue and stay involved with, but the one organization I’ve remained heavily invested in during my time in college is the Harvard Black Men’s Forum (BMF)  

I was first introduced to BMF during New Member Orientation (NMO), which took place during the first week of class, and I immediately felt at home. During NMO, I felt the camaraderie amongst members as we would crack jokes with each other on Widener Steps or get hype for one another whenever one would complete a task successfully. I saw the public service mindedness of members as we would help clean up Y2Y and engage in other service work. I heard the vulnerability of members as we would have honest discussions about our hopes and fears, and various issues relating to our identities. 

Since NMO, I’ve found my roommates, blockmates, and my lifelong friends through BMF. I’ve found many of my mentors through BMF. I’ve found purpose in public service and helping Black elementary school students through BMF. I’ve engaged in fruitful discussions that have challenged and changed my perspective on different issues through BMF. I’ve served in my first leadership role on campus through BMF. I’ve moderated conversations with Nia Long, Meagan Good, Trymaine Lee, and so many other inspiring and influential Black people through BMF. The number of memorable experiences I’ve had through BMF are truly endless. BMF has been such an integral part of my college experience, which is why I continue to invest so much of my time and energy into it. 

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