Harvard’s campus is filled with amazing women–women who, in a few short years (or months), will be heading out into that mythical place some call “the real world.” Catherine Hasbrouck is one of the many women doing great things post-Harvard; an English concentrator and Class of 2014 graduate, she currently student-teaches in Cambridge and is preparing for a year abroad in South Africa. Below, Catherine shares her insights on teaching, her favorite college memories and her advice for adjusting to life after Harvard.
What cool things have you been up to since graduation?
This summer I raised my entire financial support for my year abroad in South Africa (which starts in January), so that was pretty exciting and rewarding. Since being back in Cambridge, I’ve been student-teaching 8th grade English at a local middle school, which has been an incredible learning experience for me. My students are awesome–I feel really fortunate to work with them and be challenged every day.
What inspired you to work in your current field?
I have always loved mentoring and working with youth. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized teaching middle schoolers in particular was a field that I wanted to explore. Working with young teens is such a unique and challenging experience. That age group in particular lacks a lot of mentorship and encouragement, so I want to be a part of making sure that these kids have someone who is affirming them in their ideas and aspirations.
What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part about teaching is seeing and being a part of the transformative process of a student’s journey from day one. Even after just a couple months in the classroom, I have watched students who were completely disinterested in reading or writing, develop a visible curiosity in the material they are learning–it’s amazing to witness. The most challenging aspect is probably that teaching is emotionally very draining, especially for someone like me, who enjoys forming strong relationships with people. It is tough also working with students who have a lot of hard stuff going on outside of school. Walking the line between mentor/friend and teacher is difficult–much like trying to balance on a tightrope without a pole–but I know that that wisdom will come with experience.
Do you have any advice for current seniors who are worried about the transition to post-grad life?
I think making friends and finding community is extremely important. Even though it can be really tempting to isolate yourself and get totally immersed in your work, you should be open to new friendships and maintaining old ones (thank goodness for Skype). At Harvard, many of us have had the opportunity to be a part of multiple communities on campus. When you transition to post-grad life, you want to be able to find groups of people who share your interests and hobbies, just as you did in college. Having these friends outside of your work environment is wonderful and so important to maintaining a balanced life, regardless of your career.
What is your favorite Harvard memory?
Call me sentimental, but Harvard Commencement was a wonderful, magical day. I walked into the gorgeous, sunny Yard with my best friends and roommates on each arm, and we cried when Aretha Franklin sang the national anthem. It was a beautiful day filled with people I love. Having the opportunity to reflect with my friends on everything we had been through in our four years, was really special, even though it was also incredibly difficult.