Karlene R. James-Joseph, ALM Liberal Arts
Karlene R. James-Joseph – ALM, Liberal Arts

Where will you be living next year, and what will you be doing?
New York or Washington DC Metropolitan Areas

What will you be doing?
Within the next year, I seek a role where three forces within me come together: my experience/talent, my desire to interact with new people/subjects continually, and the calling to advance outcomes that make this world a better place. Ideally, the organization will be concerned with bolstering civil rights, underscoring social action, raising global education equality, or alleviating poverty.

I’m all about people and connecting what we do to why we are doing it. I am known for bringing groups together to consensus and alignment. I can make complicated ideas understandable. I make challenging projects fun and satisfying for everyone involved. I bring strategy to reality and people along so they know they are making it happen!

Deciding to complete my Master’s degree was a pursuit of increasing my neuroplasticity and responding to a forceful, inner yearning to position myself to serve humanity. By doing my graduate study at Harvard Extension School, I could cast a wide net on my learning topics and expose myself to various voices (professors and fellow students) outside work hours. At least twice a week for over three years, my brain was alight with thought leadership. By the time of Commencement 2022, my spirit was afire with the motto, “Enter to Learn, Exit to Serve.”

At the Black Graduate Commencement exercise at Harvard University, the keynote speaker, LaTasha Brown, made a memorable statement (paraphrased), “Nothing comes into being that was not first envisioned.” So this is my vision for myself.

In practice, Karlene James-Joseph, in June 2023, is in an executive position in the Information or Administrative Office at a large foundation. She leads teams that successfully deliver process and technology solutions to the employees and customers of the organization. Inside and outside that firm, she also mentors and grows minority talent to be placed into well-paying careers that will sow the seeds of future prosperity. Finally, by the end of 2023, she has also identified the education institution where I will begin to pursue my part-time doctoral degree in Socio-Legal Studies.

As a result of my time at Harvard Extension School, I feel I must make this vision a reality. It is in progress.

What advice do you have for Harvard HES students, now that you have graduated?
I give three pieces of advice to Harvard Extension School students based on my experience.

1. Take that unplanned course that appears in your path. The requirement of a certain number of Harvard professors and synchronizing schedules with work sometimes requires that you take classes you had not expected or wanted to take. So please don’t hesitate, I would say. Although a course may seem tangential or outside the orbit of your concentration, I found that the scholarship’s relevancy and future relevance to the world we inhabit were undeniable. And so, no matter what your focus, if a course depends that you pull up wider or look around a corner you did not expect, do it. It is likely well worth your time and will positively contribute to your journey.

2. Connect with fellow students who intend to graduate/commence the same year as you. About a year before Commencement, I was honored to join a WhatsApp group for the folks who expected to graduate that May. It was my first source of information about graduation. I could connect with students in a way I never did over my time at HES. It made my commencement week more joy-filled when I met them in person.

3. Leverage the Writing Center, the students who staff that organization are angels. They could decipher the comments of my thesis director, warn me of pitfalls and gotchas, and assure me that what I was experiencing was not singular. I wish I had used them throughout my time, not just at the end.

Be passionate and move forward with gusto every single hour of every single day until you reach your goal.

– Ava DuVernay

In what ways has your Harvard Extension degree impacted your career?
It has given me the confidence to admit that I want to change industry and work in a company that does good for people in this world.

By Harvard Office of Career Services
Harvard Office of Career Services