Priscilla Cosgrove ‘12
Special Concentration: Urban Studies
After graduating as an Urban Studies concentrator I wasn't quite sure of the capacity in which my academic study would shape my career pursuits - I had chosen Urban Studies because the study of spatial interaction was a passion of mine but I knew that (at least in the near term) I did not want to pursue planning or architecture. I decided that I wanted to work in the start-up realm and in a stroke of luck, I fell into a role that bridges those worlds and certainly builds on my experience in my concentration. I work for a company called onefinestay that aims to allow people to 'live like a local' in a number of cities across the world by offering a fully managed hotel-like experience in a personal home. One of the most interesting parts of the study of urban space is an analysis of the space that goes unused, and we aim to allow homeowners to make the best use of that space while also providing a new sort of vacation accommodation for guests and more complete integration into the fabric of a city. Truly local experience is often difficult to come by, and yet it is precisely what makes urban exploration rewarding. Though my examination of city life is much more operational than theoretical these days, I love being part of a movement probing the future possibilities of urban spaces.
Tracy Han ‘11
Special Concentration: Global Health
I developed my interest in global health and social enterprise through my special concentration at Harvard. I was admitted to Harvard Business School my senior year through the 2+2 program. After graduation, I worked in management consulting at The Parthenon Group in San Francisco, working on about 40 cases in industries ranging from healthcare to education to consumer goods. I then moved to Malawi in Southern Africa to work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative to start a large-scale nutrition business that will fight stunting and malnutrition in Malawi, while also providing improved income opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Michael Henderson ‘11
Special Concentration: Global Health
After graduating with a Special Concentration in Global Health, I was fortunate to attend Stanford University where I am currently a combined MD/MBA candidate. My interdisciplinary studies in global health instilled a desire to go beyond the individual patient and pursue classes outside of the traditional MD training. I found myself most intrigued when taking classes focused on anthropology and public health, and have found myself similarly drawn to business school classes that enable me to consider my experiences in the broader context of healthcare. While I do not yet know what I will do with my career, I imagine it will be a hybrid of medicine and business, utilizing my clinical knowledge in a role aimed at achieving disruptive change within healthcare.
Marco Iannuzzi ‘11
Special Concentration: Architecture and Environmental Science
Since graduating with a Harvard Special Concentration in Architecture & Environmental Science I have since launched my own architectural firm focused on 'green design'. After a successful start to my business I drew up my 10 year plan moving forward, a life plan which included playing professional football, philanthropy and raising a family. I uncovered some fundamental issues with an architectural business/industry which essentially would put constraints on my family life and community involvement until about the age of 35—two areas that I was not interested in sacrificing for the first decade of my professional career. From there I went back to my finance background, where I began as an economics pre-med concentrator and in my sophomore year cofounded a financial group with a few fellow classmates. I compared the 10 year business plans for Architecture and Finance and quickly realized Finance best integrated pro-sports, philanthropy and family. Initially I launched a boutique financial firm but quickly realized I required a higher level of research and analytics. At that point I put myself out to big bank and landed at Canada's largest full serve wealth management firm RBC Dominion Securities. Today, my wealth management clients are a reflection of the paths that I explored in my special concentration degree; I speak the language of architects, engineers, physicians and therapists. Having gone through the process of building the framework of a special concentration I have even found common ground with professionals in academia. In the financial industry you learn that diversification is king, my journey as a special concentrator fostered my ability to diversify my range of thinking and now allows me to successfully interact with several industries today. My breadth of knowledge and ability to assemble cross-industry connections and relationships is directly attributed to my experiences as a special concentrator. The process of creating something that is your own is an invaluable process that builds intangible traits for eternity.
Toby Stein ‘11
Special Concentrations: Urban Studies
When I designed my Special Concentration in Urban Studies, I never imagined how well it would prepare me for my life after Harvard. Before attending Harvard Law School, I worked as a community manager at Google in Mountain View, CA. I credit my special concentration, and the process of creating it, with teaching me to be independent, self-directed, and creative, traits that Google prizes and celebrates. Now, I am focusing on real estate law, an inter-disciplinary field that requires a broad base of knowledge which I could only have gained through the flexibility allowed by my special concentration. My plan of study allowed me to take a wide range of classes across the college and graduate schools - government, sociology, history of art and architecture, design - that provided both an exhilarating academic experience and also the foundation for my legal career.
Intiya Isaza-Figueroa '10
Special Concentration: Urban Studies
Since graduating with a Special Concentration in Urban Studies, I have worked in a diverse array of companies but have been able to stay true to the intellectual spark and academic interests that fueled my pursuit of a self-directed course of study in which I brought together classes from Government, Art History, Urban Planning, Architecture, and Economics. I have worked at a boutique merchant bank investing in and brokering deals in real estate assets in developing economies, for a luxury real estate developer in the historic walled-city of Cartagena, Colombia, and for a landscape architect (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., whose principals teach at the GSD). I attended the Bartlett School's Development Planning Unit: Summer Lab in Medellin, Colombia (the location of my honors thesis research), and taken courses at Neighborworks America Training Institute. I interned & volunteered with Exit Art, an activist art space in NYC, until its closing in 2011. There I contributed research to the show "Alternative Histories", which went on to be a published catalogue/book by MIT Press. I am excited to have recently begun working for Home City Housing, a low-income housing developer based out of Western Massachusetts, as a Development Specialist.
This may seem like an odd and meandering path, but each move has tied back to my undergraduate work where I had the opportunity to tie together interdisciplinary approaches to issues in urban planning. The for-profit real estate work required me to piece together work in economics, finance, history, and architecture. The gallery work tied together how the worlds of fine-art, politics, and gentrification intersect to fuel or eliminate community and art spaces in a city. And now, I have to consider how issues of poverty, local economics, and sociology can help us build affordable housing and resident services programs that work to help people in my hometown. Everything I have worked on since graduation has benefited from and expanded on the concepts and approaches that I learned during the completion of my special concentration.
David Rice ‘10
Special Concentration: Esoteric Studies
At Harvard, I designed and completed a Special Concentration called Esoteric Studies: Mysticism and Modernism in Western Thought. This came from a lifelong interest in reading and writing dark, spiritually-challenging fiction: horror, noir, gothic, sci-fi, and transgressive fiction, among other genres. Since graduation in 2010, I've been pursuing writing however possible, first on a grant in Berlin, then back at Harvard TA-ing animation in the VES Department, and now in NYC, where I've been screenwriting, translating, and tutoring to support myself as I continue work on the novel I began in Berlin. Along with this novel, I've worked on a variety of shorter and ongoing projects, including short stories, book reviews and essays, a web-fiction series, and a graphic novel. This work is all up on my website, www.raviddice.com. My interdisciplinary study was invaluable in helping me develop a specific approach and voice within the more general realm of my interests, and this voice has determined the way forward. Though scraping by has been difficult and uncertain at times, I am doing the kind of work I love and have always wanted to do, and plan to continue doing no matter what.
Devon Youngblood ‘10
Special Concentration: Visualization Studies
After graduating from Harvard, I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt on the Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Traveling Fellowship. Without an established set of contacts or a path defined by the University, the year gave me the chance to speak to artists, take the lead on an international video competition through a gallery, and generally expose myself to the artistic expression of contemporary Egyptian identity. Every semester I spent applying for and being a part of the Special Concentrations department contributed to my ability to take on such a task; I knew what it meant to forge a path without strict guidelines and set expectations for myself and those around me.
I am currently working in New York as a Post Sale Manager at Sotheby's, which includes managing clients and financials after a sale takes place. Similar to my Special Concentration, this and my experiences in Cairo have given me the chance to understand the arts beyond a strictly art historical perspective. I am continually grateful for the way the Special Concentrations department allowed me to think and have no doubt it will continue to influence my approach to thought and future opportunities.
Adam Roth Singerman ‘09
Special Concentration: Linguistics and Latin America
Special Concentrations was a transformative part of my experience at Harvard College. My interests were disparate and didn't fit neatly into any pre-existing course of study: I wanted to combine the formal, grammatically-attentive analyses of Linguistics with the regional focus of Latin American Studies and the in-the-field methodology of Anthropology. No individual department, no established concentration would let me bring all this together, and (to be totally honest) I was despondent about having to choose a major that wasn't right for me.
Building my own course of study -- which I verbosely named "Linguistics and the Languages of the Americas" -- made it possible for me to explore my seemingly disparate interests in a unified, complementary way. I worked closely with professors in Romance Languages & Literatures, Linguistics, and Anthropology and developed a unique set of skills. I spent two summers in college down in Highland Guatemala, conducting research on several modern Mayan languages; and this experience taught me that I just had to keep going with my work in field linguistics. After college I lived and worked in Brazil and Portugal, improving my Portuguese-language skills and developing a deep personal connection with Lusophone culture; and I'm now a second-year PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of Chicago, where I am specializing in the description and documentation of indigenous languages of the Brazilian Amazon.
Calla Videt ‘09
Special Concentration: Physics and Theatre
I became a special concentrator when I realized what I was pursuing academically was not aligned with what I wanted to explore on a professional path. I started out with an intellectual passion for theoretical physics but with a heart in the performing arts. Being unable to pursue the study of both in tandem within any combination of departments, special concentrations allowed me an opportunity that forever changed my path at Harvard and, subsequently, in life.
The program pushed me to become an academic entrepreneur of sorts. I was able to keep a foot in physics while also being able to incorporate my work directing and writing for theater into my academic study. Ultimately, I ended up working in the arts--not in the sciences--but the production company I formed post-graduation (called Sightline) draws heavily on scientifically charged material and is inspired by my days studying physics. Special concentrations inspired me to stay active in disparate disciplines. Continuing along dualistic themes, I am currently pursuing a dual degree MFA/MBA at NYU. My objectives are to continue to create and produce works across different media while focusing on sustainability within the arts.
For more info, please visit the Sightline website.
Sarah Conyngham ‘08
Special Concentration: Regional Urban Planning and Development
The combination of a liberal arts education and a special concentration provided me with the ultimate means through which I could explore the numerous paths that make up my core interests: urban planning and development. However, this broad scope also made me realise that in order to work in the field of development, I would need to substantiate my academic background. To do this, I enrolled in the University of Cambridge's Development Studies Master's programme directly after Harvard. In retrospect, my realisation after Cambridge was similar to my realisation after Harvard: to be effective as a professional in this field, I would need to better my understanding of how the private sector operates. To fulfill this gap I returned to my home country, South Africa, where I took up a job at the country's largest private asset management company. And today I find myself working in the field of development! (a development consultancy based in Cape Town). I do not believe that this progression (albeit a slow one!) would have been possible without the grounding that I was given through my special concentration. It taught me to be curious, patient, reflective and determined. I consider my decision to apply for a special concentration to be right up there among the top five decisions I've ever made. A second of those five was to apply to Harvard.
Corey Rennell ‘08
Special Concentration: Natural History
I created a Special Concentration in Natural History to look deeply at how major conclusions in our principal sciences weave a narrative of functional reality. I focused this around the simple question of "what should we eat?". Interdisciplinary study has been the hotbed of human innovation for millennia, but to succeed you have to persist in asking the hard questions, ignoring critics, and leaving no stone unturned. After four years of classes across 8 departments and experiential learning on 6 continents, I stood confidently behind a beautifully simple approach to nutrition. I founded the not-for-profit company CORE Foods.
Jody Morita ‘07
Special Concentration: Urban Studies
After transferring to Harvard from Deep Springs College, I struggled to find a concentration that aligned with my intellectual interests. Fortunately, I was able to pursue a Special Concentration in Urban Studies where I studied the ways in which cities are built in order to understand the principles along which societies are organized.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of a Special Concentration, I was frequently confronted with the unique role medicine plays in addressing the complex social determinants of health in our cities. This exposure contributed in no small part to my decision to pursue a career in medicine, and I now find myself in a psychiatry residency program at the University of Toronto. My undergraduate studies have continued to inform my interest in Emergency Psychiatry, the area of psychiatry that focuses on the diagnosis and management of high acuity patients. Emergency psychiatrists are faced with the unique challenge of attempting to understand a patient’s most private and intimate thoughts during a state of crisis in order to make difficult decisions about the most appropriate course of treatment.
I firmly believe that the interdisciplinary nature of my undergraduate studies has uniquely positioned me to connect with patients and do justice to the experience of my patients’ struggles with mental illness. Through this process, the psychiatrist bears witness to all aspects of the human condition, and I can imagine no more beautiful a way to spend my professional life.
Kathryn Berndtson ‘06
Special Concentration: Applied Social Ethics
I graduated in 2006 with a degree in Applied Social Ethics, an interdisciplinary concentration that allowed me to combine the study of human rights, religion, social justice, and ethics. Following my graduation, I worked for a year in Toronto at the Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health at the University of Toronto, where I supported the Ethical, Social, and Cultural Advisory Group of the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health.
I left Canada to complete my Master of Health Science at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where I studied social and behavioral interventions. After completing my degree, I worked for the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty in DC to support interfaith anti-malaria programs in Mozambique and Nigeria. I shifted my focus to domestic public health in 2009, accepting a Presidential Management Fellowship at the Office of Public Health with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where I worked for three years, in DC and Palo Alto, CA. I also completed my yoga teacher training in 2009.
In 2012, I returned home to the Midwest to begin my MD degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, hoping to balance my ethics and public health training with clinical skills. My aspiration to practice integrative medicine comes from a desire to approach healing from a holistic perspective that acknowledges the interconnections among mindful awareness, public health, patient empowerment, and medicine. I believe that my education as a Special Concentrator has helped me to see and build these connections, and I hope that the foundations I built at Harvard will ultimately translate into benefit for my future patients.
Sarah Sclarsic ‘06
Special Concentration: Bioethics and Public Policy
After graduation, I spent 6 months in Lesotho working with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, helping the national laboratory network scale up its capacity to provide testing support for HIV/AIDS treatment. It was eye-opening to experience the challenges of providing health care in a country that lacks infrastructure and resources. At Harvard, I'd studied biotechnology and policy around its implementation - DNA testing, health care delivery, resource allocation. In Lesotho, I saw some of the difficulties in deploying those technologies and encountered ethical issues that developing alongside their use. I also saw the fast improvements that new technologies could bring: DNA PCR provided better HIV testing for infants; cellphones allowed business to be conducted in the absence of landline phones.
Once back in the U.S., I started medical school at the University of Michigan, but found myself more fascinated by fast-moving frontiers of technology and science - which held the promise for solving the medical challenges I'd seen in Lesotho - than the prospect of a career as a clinician. I took a leave of absence and attended a technology studies program hosted at NASA Ames in California, called Singularity University. During that program I cofounded a peer-to-peer carsharing company called Getaround, which aims to reduce global CO2 emissions. Ever since, I've been involved in start-up companies. I worked in startup-focused venture capital in New York City, and in 2013 I joined Modern Meadow as Business Director. Modern Meadow is a biotechnology company growing meat and leather in the lab, via tissue engineering. Our goal is to provide superior animal products without harming animals or the environmental, by growing tissues directly from live cells.
When I was still an undergraduate, I knew that I was deeply interested in emerging technologies and how they can be applied to find new ways of doing important things: providing medical testing and care, new models for transportation, new methods for growing food. What I didn't know was what part of the ecosystem I should focus on: the early stage science? The public policy? I found my answers in the years of exploration and work after college, but the time I spent as a student provided a crucial early basis for thinking about and understanding biotechnology.
Christopher Golden ‘05
Special Concentration: Environmental Conservation
I graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with a Special Concentration in Environmental Conservation. With the curriculum I designed, I was able to weave together coursework from Ecology, Conservation Biology, Development Studies, Public Health and Medical Anthropology. I was also able to use my time at Harvard to significantly invest in independent research in Madagascar which I have carried on for the past 15 years into the present, investigating how current mega-trends in environmental change like biodiversity loss, climate change and wildlife population depletion have downstream effects on human health. In 2011, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a MPH in Epidemiology and a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. I did a post-doc at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and I am currently a Research Associate at the Harvard School of Public Health. My current research portfolio can be found at www.chrisgoldenresearch.com As a non-academic role, I am the Director of Wildlife Conservation Society's HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) Program (www.heal-wcs.org) where I lead a 25-institution consortium in creating empirical evidence linking environmental change to human health outcomes.
Christian Stayner ‘05
Special Concentration: Architecture and International Development
In 2005 I graduated with a Special Concentration in Architecture and International Development from Harvard College. I was a transfer student from Deep Springs College and sought the opportunities of a major university that did not (at the time) have an preprofessional undergraduate architecture curriculum. In hindsight, this proved to be a wonderful, if challenging and sometimes socially isolating, way to pursue an undergraduate design education. Concurrent with my thesis year in Special Concentrations, I enrolled in the professional architecture program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Following that I established an small, four person architectural practice in Los Angeles called Stayner Architects. Much of our work, which takes place in Southern California as well as across the US and the world, is an extension of the issues I explored within my Special Concentration. Additionally, I am currently an Assistant Professor in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where I teach undergraduate and graduate students. My research and teaching examines nonvisual forces in architecture, from natural resource extraction to olfaction and taste.
Kate Widland Gallego ‘04
Special Concentration: Environmental Studies
I graduated in 2004 with a Special Concentration in Environmental Studies. I now serve as the youngest member of the Phoenix City Council, representing an area that includes the airport, part of Downtown Phoenix, and South Phoenix. My interdisciplinary program included work in urban planning, religion, and government, all of which help in my current work. Before my election, I worked in renewable energy and economic development. I also have an MBA from Wharton in Entrepreneurial Management.