Monday Student Spotlight

Name: Lana Abuawad, Junior, Harvard College

Job Title: Business Development Associate 

Appreciation Note from Lana's Supervisor: "Lana Abuawad has been working with ParenTeach, a Parenting Education company, for the past 10 months. ParenTeach is a startup social impact company, and we have asked Lana to take on a variety of independent projects to help implement our business plan. She has prepared high-quality conference presentations, created inspiring promotional materials, and has researched and designed critical marketing and sales plans, just to name just a few of her projects. Lana is extremely intelligent, humble, respectful, and kind. She is a dream to work with. We are grateful to Lana for the vital role she has and continues to play at ParenTeach, all while maintaining a full course load at school. Thank you, Lana. We so appreciate all that you do and are inspired by your example. "

Lana Abuawad

What made you apply to your current job while being a student?

Lana: I have always had an interest in public service and business, so I was thrilled to discover the social venture world, which serves as a powerful crossover between the two. ParenTeach is a for-profit company with the goal of expanding the reach of parenting education to prevent unintentional childhood abuse on a national scale. I am fascinated by the idea of using the market to tackle social issues in a self-sustaining way, and that is exactly what ParenTeach does.

 

Where did you find your job?

Lana: I was actually applying for an internship at the Robin Hood Foundation, where I worked simultaneously for a few months, and one of my references informed me about the opening at ParenTeach. After interviewing with the founder, I knew it was the right opportunity for me.

How have you been able to balance your schoolwork and work responsibilities? What are your personal keys to success and what challenges or hurdles have you encountered?

Lana: I find balance in prioritization and organization. I also find that it's easiest to balance school and work when I prioritize my rest. It also helps that I am passionate about my studies and the work ParenTeach is doing, so there is an innate drive there to make time for both. My personal key to success is self-knowledge for sure. If you know yourself, you know what your goals and values are and where you're headed. There is a powerful intentionality in everything you do when you know exactly who you are. This has also served as a hurdle for me in the past when I didn't know where I wanted to take my studies and career. I looked within and found all the answers there.

What does your typical day look like at work? What do you love the most about your position?

Lana: My job is to map out the parenting education landscape to uncover paths of expansion, partnership, and development for the company. I mainly research and meet with experts to gather and communicate this information to my team. I am offered a ton of flexibility in my position and also a high level of responsibility that I don't imagine I'd find anywhere else as a newcomer. It has been an incredibly educational experience for me already.

How does it relate to what you are learning at Harvard?

Lana: I actually mapped out my studies through backward induction. I knew I wanted to be in the social venture world and consequently decided to study the crossover of policy and economics to prepare myself for that.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? What lessons have you learned that you’ll take with you after graduation?

Lana: No job or class is a mistake. Every experience I've had has taken me one step closer to where I'm meant to be. Everything is a learning experience. Trust the process, and don't be afraid to ask for help! My job now can be sourced back to a single text, a text that I was initially uncomfortable sending. I am now so grateful that I did. There are more people out there who want to help you than you may think.

 

Name: Nadia Issa, Graduate Student at HDS

Job Title: Company Dancer and Cultural Strategist at Jean Appolon Expressions and Research Associate at The Pluralism Project

Appreciation Note from Nadia's Supervisor: "We hired Nadia to join the Pluralism Project staff shortly after COVID began: they have worked with us for four semesters and two summers. Even in these challenging circumstances of remote work and learning, they contributed specialized knowledge in their area of academic expertise and extended the impact of our work by building our social media presence. Nadia brings a responsive and thoughtful communication style, which shines through even in Zoom calls and emails. In addition to their role as a Research Associate at the Pluralism Project, Nadia is a student leader at the Harvard Divinity School, a dancer, a teacher, and much more. We wish them all the best as they graduate this May! "Nadia Issa

 

What made you apply to your current job while being a student?

Nadia: I applied for my position because I was interested in Pluralism in the context of Afrikan Diasporic spiritual-religious traditions and contributing my knowledge to visualize these practices in the Harvard Pluralism landscape and resource bank, which tends to be an Abrahamic-prioritized space.

Where did you find your job?

Nadia: I found out about the Summer Research Associate position at The Pluralism Project through Harvard Divinity School's Career Services Newsletter before I started my first year of my Master of Theological Studies degree program and during my participation in the Summer Language Program (SLP) at Harvard Divinity School.

How have you been able to balance your schoolwork and work responsibilities? What are your personal keys to success and what challenges or hurdles have you encountered?

Nadia: I have balanced my schoolwork and work responsibilities by establishing and honoring my set calendar schedule, committing to full days dedicated to thesis project writing, and pacing myself through it all to be able to accomplish all assignments in a timely and effective manner. My personal keys to success are to continue to root myself in spiritual-religious and Kin traditions and rituals that ground me in my purpose in Academia, which is a commitment to Black Liberation and building meaningful relationships with faculty and advisors.

What does your typical day look like at work? What do you love the most about your position?

Nadia: My typical day at work consists of managing the project's Staff email and Inquiries, and curating Social Media Posts for our Instagram platform. I have also been the point person for Afro-Caribbean traditions, including evaluation of essays and Boston-based work.

How does it relate to what you are learning at Harvard?

Nadia: As a Graduate Student who is nearing my completion of my second year of my Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree at Harvard Divinity School in the African and African American Religious Studies Area of Focus, my work is dance and ethnographic projects focusing on the lived experiences of perpetual catastrophe in the face of Religious Racism and anti-Black cis-hetero spatial exclusivity in Brazil (Candomblé and Umbanda) and its burgeoning presence in Cuba (Regla de Ocha-Ifá/Lukumí), Spiritual Reparations, the intrinsic connection between ecology, agriculture, and religion, evident in the continual colonial destruction of Terreiros and land-war targeting Quilombo communities, as well as Sacred and ritual arts and Gender politics of spatiality and access. Pluralism or, I suggest, symbiosis of Afrikan-derived polytheistic spiritual-religious traditions inherently engages in interfaith connected work, relationships, and livelihood. Working for the Pluralism Project felt resonant with the foundation of what and whom I study alongside.