Kelsey is a first-year student in the IEDP, originally from Miami, Florida. After her BA in International Relations at Ohio Wesleyan University, Kelsey led service-learning programs for a non-profit in Haiti. Most recently, Kelsey worked in Washington, DC, as a student advisor for the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program, and a program manager for the U.S. Department of State’s Gilman Scholarship Program. Kelsey is interested in cross-cultural educational exchange, mentorship and informal learning, and experiential learning.

8:00 am – A rainy walk through West Philly this morning. It’s about a 25 minute walk between my apartment and campus. In the mornings, the walk gives me a chance to wake up my body. In the evenings, it’s a good time to mentally decompress my day. Either direction I am comforted by the familiarity of the quirks and charms of the neighborhood I am starting to call home. I also pass lots of cute dogs on their morning and evening walks, too. 🙂

I’m not usually up quite this early, but this week Penn is offering free fitness classes and group exercise at the gym. So far I’ve tried a spinning class and started this morning with yoga. The price of fitness classes is already really affordable, but after trying some out this week, I am convinced I need to sign up for the student membership. Especially now that it’s starting to get cold – I will need it to get me through the winter!

9:30 am – Time for work! I am a Graduate Assistant at the law school. I work with the Service Corps, a program that supports students who are pursuing careers in public interest law. It’s nice to have a community outside of the Graduate School of Education and the practicality of the work is a good break from my sometimes theory-heavy courses. Here’s a photo of me with the team. We work in the Toll Public Interest Center – TPIC for short, so we call ourselves “T-Pickles.”

2:00 pm – Today I have Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) class in the afternoon. I was one of those people who was “scared of math” before starting a class that would fulfill a quantitative method requirement. Three months ago I could not have imagined that I would truly enjoy the class as much as I do today. Dr. Thapa is awesome, and I’m lucky that he’s also my advisor! My journey with M&E is a reminder to myself that if I really try, I can learn anything. (Cheesy, I know. But what did you expect from an education student?)

4:30 pm – There is so much going on at Penn and I try to go to at least one event each week. Sometimes it’s a talk with a former diplomat at Perry World House, a poetry reading at Kelly Writer’s House, or an exhibit opening at the Penn Museum. This week I chose a lecture about free speech on college campuses. My background is in higher education, so it was an interesting topic for me. Hot tip – there’s usually free food at these things!

6:30 pm – I am in three different study groups with my peers. We usually meet once a week to discuss the course readings and assignments. It saves us time because we split up the readings, and helps me digest the material when I have classmates to talk it over with. I love that we all help each other out – there is a genuine care between all of us to help one another succeed. We also have a lot of fun! Often our discussion continues beyond the readings for the week, and we spend time exchanging views on different education and development topics. It’s really special to be in a cohort with people who care about the same issues I do and who get equally passionate and interested in a topic enough that they want to talk about it outside of class. Some of these topics are complicated and hard to grapple with, so I appreciate that I can explore how I feel about an issue in the comfort of people who will (lovingly and patiently) challenge me and help me consider other viewpoints.

8:30 pm – Some evenings are spent at the library, but tonight I head home. I do some reading for class and push through some e-mails. I volunteer my time on the board for a non-profit I co-founded that runs an after-school program for girls in Haiti. Right now, we are planning a board retreat in January, so I am creating some team-building and strategic planning exercises we can do with our partners in Haiti. A lot of what I’m learning from the IEDP translates to this work and I’m grateful that I’m able to balance and integrate my interests with the coursework.

Thank you for following my day!