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This year several students have volunteered to introduce themselves through the Harvard Kennedy School School (HKS) admissions blog with a self-authored post.
Below is a selected portion of the blog recently written by Eric Leslie:
Prior to joining the Kennedy School I was the principal of KIPP Philadelphia Charter School and then a stay-at-home father for our precocious daughter Hazel. Every time I hired a new teacher at my school the first thing I made them read was this powerful quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu:
“Thirty spokes converge on a single hub – it is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges. We make a vessel from a lump of clay – it is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful. We make doors and windows for a room – but it is the empty spaces that make the room livable. Thus, while the tangible has advantages, it is the intangible that makes it useful.”
All institutions of learning are powerful not just because of the books in the library and the nameplates posted on offices, but also because of the scholars that fill the halls and the conversations that flow from the classrooms. I find myself repeatedly reflecting on this quote as I get my bearings after a wonderful and rigorous start to my time at the Kennedy School.
I joined the Mid-Career/MPA program because I knew the ‘tangible’ direction I wanted to pursue in improving the world around me: use my training and experience as a community organizer and school leader to build an organization that can be a positive disruptive force in building power and opportunity in struggling communities. It was a “no-brainer” that the Kennedy School offered me the best array of courses, professors, resources, and training to build such an organization.
I also joined the Mid-Career MPA program because I knew I didn’t know the ‘intangibles’ for making sure what I do is authentically contributing to making the world a better place. Simply put, I still “don’t know what I don’t know.” As I meet amazingly talented students from all over the world, I am excited by the couches and convening spaces in the large Kennedy Forum that I can use as a home base to build the relationships and support networks to challenge my way of thinking about the world and create real opportunities for being a disruptive force for good.
This July and August the Mid-Career summer program has proved to be the perfect and poignant kick-starter to this process by providing an intensive spring training of skills and methods of learning that make me confident to begin my journey.
Whether or not you know the tangibles or intangibles of your future goals and pursuits, what is important is to find a place and program that best fulfills both the quantitative and qualitative training and guidance you will need as you prepare yourself to make sure our world is doing just a little bit better tomorrow than it was yesterday.
Eric Leslie MC/MPA 2014
"It was a 'no-brainer' that the Kennedy School offered me the best array of courses, professors, resources, and training to build [an organization that can be a positive disruptive force in building power and opportunity in struggling communities]," says Leslie.