Welcome to the first of many spotlight on our wonderful Senior SMHL's! We hope to ask them about their experiences over the years and learn from their unending wisdom that comes with such age.
Appropriately, we will begin with our dynamic duo co-presidents and best friends for life: Hannah Rasmussen (16') and Jennifer Yao (16').
We asked them some questions. Their answers...
1. What are some of the most important lessons you've learned about yourselves and personal outlook through your involvement in SMHL these past years?
HR: SMHL has made me more attuned to the little ways our community talks about and treats mental health. Being part of the group has sparked a strong academic interest in mental health for me as well—I will very likely spend a lot of time exploring various aspects of mental health over the next few years of my life, if not longer.
JY: One of the most important things I have learned is to remember that we do not always know what is going on behind someone's smile or someone's bad attitude. More often than not, our well-intentioned "how are you?" questions are heard as "just say 'good!'" comments. And so from SMHL, I feel that I have learned to better appreciate that people are much more than their profile pictures and to withhold first reactions from both provocative people and decisions.
2. As Seniors, do you have any advice that you'd like to impart on underclassmen or advice that you would give to your past selves about going through the college experience?
HR: I’d really encourage underclassmen to explore Boston and the surrounding community outside of Harvard. I think it’s easy to get caught up in our little campus bubble, but there are so many opportunities to engage with, give back to, and be part of the larger community we live in, whether through extracurriculars or just doing something fun with friends. I would also really encourage everyone on campus to prioritize their own health, whatever that means for you: sleep more, eat a little more healthily, go for a walk…academic life can consume us, but it’s just as important to remember we’re humans who have basic needs in order to function, and I hate seeing others (or myself) put those on the back burner. I think you're more productive when you take care of yourself, not to mention happier.
JY: There's a lot of advice that I would want share, but I'm sure I would never have taken any of it when I was an underclassman. In general though, I think the most important aspect of the college experience is knowing what and how to prioritize. To remember that while classes & grades are important, you will more likely remember that conversation you had with a blockmate on "what success meant" until 4 AM much more than that physics midterm that you were actually supposed to be studying for.
3. How do you relax on your off time?
HR: In my off time I like to relax by doing hot yoga, running, and painting/drawing.
JY: Watch way too much netflix & youtube... But also taking walks around the square with friends I haven't seen in a while.
4. Where are some of your favorite places to study and/or relax?
HR: I usually study in Adams library, although the white noise in the dining hall is nice too. I feel like Lamont is a great place to study when you’re there with purpose and for shorter periods of time—when you actively choose to go.
JY: The "slightly used" couch in our room that has been through thick and thin in the past 3 years.
5. What has SMHL meant to you?
HR: SMHL has been an integral part of my college experience, freshman through senior year. SMHL pushes me to think more creatively about how to address mental health on campus and in the broader community, and allows me to collaborate with others on campus who are passionate about bettering our community. The members are always sharing perspectives that prompt me to reflect on my own experiences and ways of thinking about mental health, so I really feel like I’ve grown by being part of this organization.
JY: Quite honestly, I joined SMHL when I hardly knew what the organization was. I was interested in mental health and helping the Harvard community, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As time went on, the group became something upon which I relied heavily as well as my main source of pride on campus. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of other groups/activities, being in SMHL has been undeniably the most rewarding and positive experience I have had here. From making lasting relationships within the group to listening to experiences from those outside, SMHL has provided me a platform on which to grow as an individual.
Special thanks to Hannah and Jen for being wonderful presidents, and congratulations for making it through college! Let's hope they get employed.