Tuesday Student Spotlight

Name: Toochi Urada, Senior, Harvard College

Job Title: Communications Chair

 

Toochi UraduAppreciation note from Toochi's Supervisor: "I have supervised and worked with Toochi in her role as an intern for the Harvard College Women’s Center over the last three years and can attest to her incredible humility, depth of caring, and continued service to the community. In my decade at Harvard, I have worked with few students as humble as Toochi. She does fabulous work at the Women’s Center as our sole communications intern, yet is consistently supporting or shedding light on the amazing work of others rather than highlighting the important contributions she has made to our work pursuing gender equity. In this regard, her impact is often “unsung” (despite her involvement as a dedicated Kuumba singer!), and I am delighted she will be celebrated as part of the National Student Employment Week to shed light on the wonderful student, colleague, and community member that Toochi is. 

One of the many things that make Toochi wonderful, in addition to her humility, is the depth of care she employs when working with others. She listens to hear when others are speaking. When she contributes to group discussions, she approaches the conversation by trying to understand and represent multiple perspectives. During a recent leadership development activity, we discussed our leadership styles and the inherent strengths and challenges each style presents. In her reflection, Toochi remarked that one of the challenges for her leadership style is that she is so invested in the success of others and the pursuit of their ideas, that she doesn’t devote as much time or energy to pursuing her own visions.

Yet, when Toochi does carry out a project of her own design, the results are remarkable. I could name numerous projects that Toochi has played an important role in, not to mention sticking to the work and helping our team adjust to a virtual environment during the height of the pandemic, however, there is one project in particular I want to highlight. She recognized a gap in consistency for celebrating heritage months in the Women’s Center’s social media presence. As such, she came up with a monthly plan and pre-populated incredibly thoughtful content that she felt would be valuable for the community. I encourage you to go to our Instagram page (@harvardcollegewomenscenter) and check out the amazing Black History Month posts, as well as her insightful and diverse selection of #WomanCrushWednesday highlights over the last year. Her efforts to raise the visibility of our work and that of others pursuing gender equity in other spaces have provided me with inspiration during darker moments in this challenging year, and I can only imagine it has for others in the community as well." 

 


A Q&A with Toochi

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

Toochi: I wanted to apply because the work and programming was very interesting to me. I also had my own personal passions for feminism and activism, so I thought it would be an amazing environment to pursue that work.

Where did you find your job?

Toochi: During the spring of my freshman year, I saw flyers for Women's Center Intern positions on various email lists and social media

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?

Toochi: It has not been too difficult to balance schoolwork and work. Our Directors are very kind and understanding; they work with us when we need to communicate potentially stepping back during periods that are very busy for us. Also, when you do have an on-campus job, I think you quickly learn how to best manage your time so that you're still producing the best work you can for both work and academics. Multiple calendars and agendas have really helped me personally. I'm definitely someone's who's a planner, so it really helps me to map out as many assignments and tasks that I know of at the beginning of the semester, in order to identify busy work weeks in advance. A major challenge I've always encountered is just overcoming midterm weeks. Even with planning, it's difficult to stop those weeks from being overwhelming, but with self-care practices, I'm able to get by.

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

Toochi: It depends on the shift. Usually we have weekly/daily intern tasks that we all have to do, like taking in or bringing in the sign, washing dishes, wiping down counters, taking out trash/compost, stocking safer sex supplies, etc. Then, we have committee-specific tasks for your position. For me, as Communications Chair, I have a posting schedule for our events or various virtual engagement initiatives, I have to design graphics, and I plan content to create. We also have event-specific tasks for Let's Talks, Women's Leadership Awards, the Peggy Schmertzler Lecture, and other larger events that we form intern teams to execute.

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

Toochi: I study Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Content-wise, the work I do at the Women's Center does not directly overlap with my field of study, but skill-wise I think my work is translatable. Through the Women's Center, I've learned how to advocate for myself, which is very important as a woman in STEM. I've learned a lot about transformational leadership and how even though my leadership style isn't traditional, there is space and a necessity for empathy and nurturing in the workplace.

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

Toochi: I would encourage all students to apply to the Women's Center internship program or get involved in our volunteer programming like the Woman of Color Collective or the Frosh Reps. Even beyond the Women's Center, all the EDI offices-the Harvard Foundation + the Diversity Peer Educators and the Office of BGTLQ+ Life-are amazing, nurturing spaces to develop yourself professionally and to get involved with work that empowers marginalized communities.

 

Name: Azariah Boyd, Graduate Student at HSPH

Job Title: Research Assistant

 

Azariah BoydAppreciation note from Azariah Supervisor: Azariah has been an asset to our team. She has worked diligently on helping to launch our community engagement work through translation of our health communications material and aiding with the launch of several new programs, including community events at the Roslindale Farmer's Market, the Franklin Park Zoo Howl, and now a new collaboration with the Boston Nature Center. She has taken what she has learned in the classroom and applied it to the community-engaged work we are doing, allowing us to deepen connection and relationship between Harvard Chan and our lay community neighbors.

 

Thank you Azariah for your stellar work efforts as a work study student. You have been an integral member of our Harvard MEMCARE Superfund Community Engagement Core and the Environmental Reproductive Justice Lab. It is an honor to work with you!

 

 A Q&A with Azariah

 

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

Azariah: Connectedness to research/career interests and financial obligations.

Where did you find your job?

Azariah: Linkedin

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?

Azariah: Time management schedule, setting boundaries and prioritization of tasks. Being vocal and communicative about conflicting deadlines - it’s impossible to give each side of your plate the same amounts of attention so it’s important to prioritize and discuss my options with my PI. Taking better care of my mental health when overwhelmed - I cannot pour from an empty cup.

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

Azariah: Reviewing and contributing to study protocols, IRB documents, partnership presentations in addition to Spanish translations for study recruitment documents and advertisement. Weekly meetings with RA team and PI to discuss progress, problem solve and upcoming needs, events, etc.. Soon I will partake in study recruitment at Dimock Community Health Center for focus groups to gauge the community (pregnant people and parents of children at least 13 years old) interest and concerns about toxic metals and personal care product chemicals on their health. This summer, I will connect with our community partners in collecting environmental and biological samples.

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

Azariah: I'm learning how data collection on environmental and biological samples can be used for community report back on environmental concerns and epidemiologic questions.

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

Azariah: Balancing life becomes easier when you learn how to create and enforce the boundaries you need to be your best self.