2015-08-17 Thoughts on Harvard
Everyone knows about Harvard; have seen it on TV, or heard about the breakthrough work of it graduates, or 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 of higher learning. Personally I had dreams of passing through the doors of another Cambridge university, MIT, located a few miles away.
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 were away for the summer. The evening light was quickly fading and all the buildings were 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 could not help but wonder what it would have been like to attend this school. I attended one of the most highly ranked engineering schools in Canada counting myself a proud graduate of Queen’s University, but 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 knew a girl from Trinidad who attended Queen’s the same time as I did but then went on to graduate from Harvard Law or Business.
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 dinner 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 it gave me some small insight into the management and the culture of an organization. This evening there are notices offering tuition in physics, math and calculus, notices for summer employment, lesson on learning to play the saxophone and advertisements for an event called “Fractured Fairy Tales”. It felt very familiar. I’ll never know how different my life may have been if I had attended Harvard, but in this small moment it was comforting to know that at least I could relate to their noticeboards.