Friday, March 27, 2015

Meet the managers: Jordan Donald

Just a bit about me:
Hi, I’m Jordan and I’m the Web Manager at the Harvard Shop. I’m from a pleasant town in Northern New Jersey called Maplewood. I’m the middle child of there boys — my older brother is graduating Harvard this year with a A.B. in Social Studies and my younger brother just began high school. The “fourth son,” according to my mom, is our big black lab named Milo.

Aside from my family (including the pup) and my girlfriend, the thing I miss most from home are New York Style Bagels — they just don’t make ‘em the same up here. Find me a proper bagel in Boston and I’ll be your best friend!

I’m currently a freshman at the college, living in Straus Haus (Best Haus). I’m undecided about a concentration. I came to college into college thinking I would do biomedical engineering, but now I see myself pursuing Statistics or Computer Science. These paths align with my interest in business! 

What I do for Harvard Student Agencies:
What drew me into applying for a position at Harvard Student Agencies (the umbrella organization of The Harvard Shop) was the practical business experience that I would be able to gain on the job. As the head of the Shop's website, I have to make decisions all the time about design, user interface and marketing strategy. I also get the opportunity to incorporate my interests in photography and graphic design by conducting product photoshoots and creating promotional materials for the site. The job is definitely challenging, but also a great time! Outside of the office, I love sports and traveling. I played soccer in high school and I'm a die-hard Yankees and Jets fan (the "wrong" teams in New England). Last summer I took my lifesavings and backpacked around Northern Europe with friends from high school and fell in love with Copenhagen and Amsterdam. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

May the housing gods be ever in your favor

Cue the Lowell House bells and applause and champagne in celebration because we've officially celebrated Housing Day 2015 at Harvard!

Now, "what the heck is Housing Day?" you might ask? Here's a brief summary:

Housing Day is when the unbeknownst freshman class finds out which House they'll be a part of for the next three years of their undergraduate career.

Most of our freshman class lives within the Harvard Yard, a central location on campus. They're sorted into the 17 freshman dorms, located in and around the Yard. Meanwhile, upperclassmen live in our respective Houses--12 unique communities located down by the Charles River and by Radcliffe Yard. 

Ask anyone, because I'll guarantee that when you get two Harvard undergraduate affiliates together--whether current student or long graduated alumnus--the second question they're bound to ask is, "So, what House are/were you in?"

House spirit is HUGE, and especially important for the undergraduates at Harvard because we're a pretty sizable student population. Moreover, our House community becomes one of our key communities, insulating us from the cold weather (quite literally) and keeping our closest friends close (also, quite literally). From hosting House formals, socials, and other student activities/services, not to mention our dining halls, House life is the life.

Photo credits to the amazing student photographers at Harvard!
The upperclassmen woke up bright and early, donned our respective House gear, grabbed our flags and tattoos and loud noise-making devices, marched to the Yard, and declared our love and dedication and loyalty to our Houses--where communities are built, where friendships are made and kept, and where we are home

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thankful for Parents | Junior Parents Weekend

It's been a long, cold, and snowy spring semester thus far, and I have to admit that this weather has gotten me extra sentimental and homesick. I'm not normally that sentimental, but being from California and adding that to the fact that I haven't had a glimpse of the sun for the past three months, let's just say that this semester can't go by any quicker!

Meanwhile, the junior class was lucky this past weekend to get a taste of home, good non-dining hall treats, and a break from the independence and autonomy with which they live their lives throughout the school year. Jealous! 

Our campus was abuzz with new (and very familiar) faces. Juniors, being three years in to the Harvard experience and one year away from graduation, welcomed a much needed break with their families and loved ones this Junior Parents Weekend. Every year, Harvard invites the junior class' parents to a weekend jam packed with activities, performances and a lotta time R&R'ing with their hard-working kids.

One of the main activities during this past weekend was sponsored by The Harvard Shop and Harvard Student Agencies, and a tradition that is fittingly shared with our loved ones. 

Class rings were officially distributed at the prestigious Harvard Tradition: One Ring Ceremony this past weekend. Performances from one of Harvard's all-male acapella groups the Din & Tonics, a moving student perspective by the Undergraduate Council's Vice President, Druv Goyal, and a powerful keynote speech by the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Robert Doyle culminated in the moment when everyone in the audience put on their class rings for the first time. Cue pictures. Cue mom's "oooooh"ing. Cue dad's straight face. 

Moreover, class rings have and continue to be a time-honored tradition. Men tend not to give their class rings to the girl he is courting, and female enrollment in colleges tend to outweigh that of males, so times are a-changin'. However, despite the change in mentalities and modernization of the idea of class rings, they're still relevant, still beautiful, and still the best keepsake to commemorate 4 years at an amazing institution like Harvard.

And a special thanks to the parents that love and support us through our college years, before then, and beyond!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

HONY at Harvard!

Who hasn't yet heard about Humans of New York? (Note: My roommate asked me, "What's that? A game?" so you're off the hook if you don't know what I'm talking about!)

To give you the quick synopsis if your newsfeed hasn't already been filled with talk about the #HONY craze, Human of New York's creator and visionary Brandon Stanton started to post the now-famous incredibly raw portrait shots of the people of New York with accompanying quotes--oftentimes so very sobering, inspirational, and always real.

Harvard hosted Brandon for the day as he came to speak to students and answer questions at our school's John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, held at the Institute of Politics. 

Ryley Reynolds ('15) & Vanessa Pham ('16) waiting for Brandon Stanton to arrive!

"This will be on my coffee table." - Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York

We shared with Brandon a copy of Harvard Student Agencies' new coffee table publication, Life in Crimson (get it here!) a book that captures the Harvard spirit from a student perspective. Life in Crimson echoes the mission of HONY on Harvard's campus, and Brandon was ecstatic when he received a copy. "This will be on my coffee table," said Brandon. 

Brandon's warm demeanor and optimistic outlook shone through in all the comments he made and questions he asked. He encouraged all of the burgeoning artists in the crowd with his comment that "if you can appreciate beauty, you're an artist," and exhibited his incredible humility, admitting that he knows his photography isn't the best, but that he loves talking to people, hearing their stories, and sharing those snippets with HONY's supporters. 

HONY has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning several spin-off series including Humans of BostonPortraits of AmericaHumans of Dubai, and the like. Most recently, he collaborated with the United Nations to advocate for the Millennium Development Goals abroad and traveled across 10 different countries to do what he does best: listen to the voices of the people he meets.

But with that being said, Brandon's roots are back in the U.S., and has recently launched a successful new campaign in collaboration with Mott Hall Bridges Academy, an underprivileged middle school is Brownsville, Brooklyn. It all started with Vidal's story and the influence of his principal, Ms. Lopez. In a matter of days, the publicity had raised over a million dollars to fund summer programs and a trip to Harvard University for the next ten years, based on Ms. Lopez's belief that "“I want every child who enters my school to know that they can go anywhere, and that they will belong."

We're glad we can share in HONY's vision to give a voice to the people, and we're looking forward to welcoming the students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy to our campus for many years to come! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Company Trip (& the novelty of being the only snowboarder in the group)

To celebrate the upcoming fiscal and academic year at Harvard and at Harvard Student Agencies, the team went on a trip to Nashoba Valley Ski Area, the perfect ski resort a couple hours outside of Boston.

I haven't been on the slopes this whole winter, so this trip was a much welcomed and much needed retreat to the mountains, where everything is just a bit simpler, easier, and exhilarating. There weren't many people on the slopes either, so the resort felt like it was reserved just for our team! 

Being from California, I have always been used to the ratio of about 8 snowboarders to every 1 skier, and that was on a good day. The mountains in California are pretty sweet, and yes, we get real snow in the mountains (sometimes). I instinctively picked up a snowboard 5 years ago, solely on account that everyone around me had one, and haven't put it down since. To reiterate, snowboarding in California is as commonplace as salmon colored shorts at Harvard in the springtime. 

SO, imagine my surprise when everyone but me gets on their skis! And imagine their surprise when I walk outside the lodge with my hunk of a board, without a helmet (seriously, nobody wears helmets in California...), and a huge smile on my face. 
I went from being one of the many to one in a million shredding down the New England slopes, a completely new territory for me. Upon reflection, I'm honestly so glad that I am able to be a bit different/an anomaly in the New England mixing pot. 

Anyways, it's always a good time with the team, and a day out on the slopes was a much needed breath of actual fresh air. Wishing I still had my snowboard as I watch the snow keep coming down. Seriously, 2 feet of snow? #snowpocalypse2015 is upon us.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Welcome to the spring semester!

Christmas may be long over, but it seems as though the winter gods are bestowing New England with enough snow to be a real-life everlasting snowglobe. I'm finding myself regularly checking my Weather app and cringing in anticipation of the cold, biting winds that swirl through Cambridge (the snowflake/rain icon on the app is my arch nemesis, no joke). 

We've been hit by yet again another snowstorm, and though I've mastered the art of layering and bundling to keep warm, I've yet to find a way to shield my face from the biting cold in a socially acceptable way. I've considered the ski mask, but needless to say, my roommates vetoed that option. Thus, my face is currently defrosting in front of the screen #yay.

It may definitely not feel like the spring yet, but we've teed off the spring semester and have started the second week of the semester. Time flies!

The first week of the semester is always set apart as "Shopping Week," a time for students at the College to sit in on any and all classes that they're interested in taking that semester. While some students know what four courses they are taking, others are weighed by the daunting task of choosing just four (or up to five, if you want the extra workload), classes out of thousands of incredible courses offered by world-renowned faculty. It's not easy trekking to 10+ classes that sound super cool, but its a luxury that Harvard gives its undergraduates to be indecisive for once. 

Happy second week of the semester, Harvard! Things haven't gotten too busy yet (knock on wood), so here's to building snowmen, making snow angels, and snowball fights galore in the new blanket of snow the storm has brought to campus!