Harvard and MIT are Sources of Curiosity and Aspiration.

By Jacky TAM

We all face different challenges as we enter different stages of education. Being university students, we might sometimes get overwhelmed by exam and career pressures and tend to treat learning as a means (to good grades and good jobs) rather than an end in itself, and I was no exception. However, during my journey in Harvard and MIT this year, I was very much inspired and had noticed a change in my perspective on learning, one that reignited the curiosity and aspiration in me.

As a student at Harvard (through its visiting student program) and MIT (through Harvard-MIT cross-registration) for a year, I had a great opportunity to explore the wisdom inside these two leading universities. One of the courses I studied was an entrepreneurship class offered by the Harvard Business School, using its renowned “Case Method” to teach the principles of business innovation. Fortunately, my past GBUS courses and case competition experiences had equipped me with a solid foundation of case analysis, so I could be confident to share my thoughts in class and engage in vigorous discussions, as different professors walked us through the cases they wrote about diverse companies. Yet, in the end, I believe the essence of the Case Method does not lie in the glamorous company names mentioned in the cases, but in the power of whole-class collaboration as well as the notion of learning from the past. Besides the analytical frameworks and numerical skills I learnt, this class really stimulated my curiosity to find the story behind the companies we know, debate about the status quo in business today and envision the innovations for tomorrow.

This curiosity could actually be extended to help us explore the role of business students in society as well. Prof. Michael Sandel’s (the author of “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do”) ethics class challenged me to seek my moral principles and purpose of life, and use my business potentials to put them into practice. Meanwhile, after taking an energy strategy course in MIT and attending related conferences, I realized the worrying reality of climate change and more importantly, the fact that the bottleneck of climate change solutions is usually in business and policy, not science and technology.

Putting these together, a question naturally comes to mind: should there be a broader aspiration for me that goes beyond my graduate job? The tremendous drive and ambition are what I appreciate Harvard and MIT students for most. That said, I also believe everyone could be a change-maker since it is one’s mindset and perspective that matters. While I am now figuring out how much I could do for easing climate change and other moral causes, I feel blessed to have this life-changing, one-year experience – one that reminded me of why we learn – and I am grateful for all the people who made that happen.

Jacky TAM

Hong Kong

Class of 2017
BBA in Global Business and Information Systems