Thoughts on Harvard
Everyone knows about Harvard; they've seen it on TV, or heard about the breakthrough work of its graduates in politics and law and medicine; they've read articles in the Harvard Business Review. Every parent secretly harbours the thought that their son or daughter might one day attend this most prestigious of institutions.
As I walk through Harvard Yard on this warm summer evening there is a serenity I did not expect to find on a big university campus. Maybe most of the students are away for the summer. Or I've come at a bad time. The evening light is quickly fading and all the buildings are bathed in a flat even light.
As I sit watching parents and hopeful teenagers taking selfies on the imposing concrete steps of the library, I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like to attend this school. I attended one of the most prestigious engineering schools in Canada, Queen’s University, but as good as it was, it was not Harvard. There was a joke (and matching T-shirts) at the time that Queen’s was “The Harvard of the North”. I even had a crush on a girl from Trinidad who attended Queen’s with me, but then went on to attend Harvard Business School. Harvard was always the pinnacle.
I wonder if the experience would have been that much different. Would the professors at Harvard have inspired me, motivated me and moulded me into so much more than I am today? Would they have pulled something from within me that maybe today still remains dormant inside me? Would I have been a captain of industry or a financial guru or an entrepreneur of the likes of Elon Musk? Would I have been more fulfilled? Would I have been a better person? Would I have been happier?
As I make my way off campus towards Massachusetts Avenue in search of something to eat, I stop to read the noticeboards that are part of the landscape of any university campus. When I worked in manufacturing, I would always read the noticeboards of the plants I visited. I found they gave me some small insight into the management and the culture of an organization-not only the content, but also the tone of the messages and the actual physical appearance of the notice boards. This evening there are notices offering tuition in physics, math and calculus, notices for summer employment, lessons on learning to play the saxophone and advertisements for an event called “Fractured Fairy Tales”. It all felt very familiar. The same sort of notices I would see at Queen's; ripped tabs that contained people's phone numbers, the familiar "hi-vis" yellow paper and newer posters haphazardly stapled over older ones. I’ll never know how different my life may have been if I'd attended Harvard, but in this small moment, it was comforting to know that at least I could relate to their noticeboards.
17th August 2015