Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Shivani Aggarwal - Story of Us

Within the past two decades, a somewhat novel form of service opportunity has emerged on Harvard University's campus for undergraduates. 

These are not traditional volunteer positions, as might be exemplified by the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), which traces its history back to the early 1900s and features primarily student-run programs. Instead, for the Harvard EdPortal Mentoring Program and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Emerging Leaders Program, university administrators primarily manage the execution of these programs and students are compensated for their time. In addition to serving the local community, they are also in the service of the university and its educational outreach priorities.

The Harvard EdPortal Mentoring Program

The Harvard EdPortal was built in 2008 with the intent of bridging relationships between Harvard and its neighboring communities. Allston-Brighton community members are regularly into this Harvard space for programming ranging from arts workshops to professional development sessions. The Mentoring Program has existed since the beginning of the EdPortal’s existence—it pairs a cohort of typically twenty to twenty-five Harvard undergraduates with Allston-Brighton students and encourages the former to lead the latter in purposeful learning academic exploration. Full-time staff from the EdPortal as well as the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning manage the administration of the program and undergraduate mentors receive hourly pay for their participation.

The Emerging Leaders Program at the Radcliffe Institute

The Emerging Leaders Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is an initiative currently in its pilot year (AY 2020-21) that was motivated by similar institutional priorities. Since becoming the Dean of Radcliffe within the past few years, Tomiko Brown-Nagin has articulated a strategic plan meant to guide the institute from 2019 through 2024 called “Radcliffe Engaged”. One of this plan's focus areas is Youth Engagement, which the Emerging Leaders Program falls under. Many salient features of the Emerging Leaders Program are similar to those of the EdPortal Mentoring Program—the program is also run by full-time Radcliffe Institute staff members and undergraduate mentors receive hourly pay. A cohort of fifteen undergraduate mentors, each paired with two mentees from high schools in the Cambridge city area. All of the mentors are sophomores and juniors except for two – myself and one other fellow senior who hold the position of ‘Lead Mentor’.

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