Student Profile: Education Reform
Lydia Gensheimer '11
Internship: Education Pioneers/NewSchools Venture Fund
Post-SOM position: Building Excellent Schools
Co-leader, Education Club, Jewish Students Assocation, Hockey Club, Sports Club; Cohort representative, Student Government
After college, I worked as a reporter at Congressional Quarterly, covering foreign policy and then education policy. I completely fell in love with the education field and became very passionate about the need to address the achievement gap in this country. There came a point where writing about it wasnít enough for me. I wanted to jump into education reform. So I decided to come to business school to gain some hard skills that I could bring to the education sector.
Yale SOM was the first business school I looked at, because I had a friend who was applying at the time, and said, "You should check out this school. It has a very different mission and different focus, and it has a new curriculum that I think would appeal to you." I remember going to SOMís website and reading the biographies of students on the web site and thinking, "Geez, these people sound like me. I could really fit in here."
SOM is really the premier school if youíre interested in going to work in a management role in education. When I was making my decision, I asked one of the top thinkers in the education space where I should go to business school, and he said, "Hands down, Yale. Thereís not even a question." The resources here are just incredible.
The Yale SOM Education Club hosts one of the premier education conferences in the country, which Iím helping to run this year. Along with another second-year, Iím in charge of all panels and content. The conference has 650 attendees, mostly professionals ó the top thinkers in education ó and we are in charge of more than 70 speakers and determining what those speakers should be talking about. Itís incredibly exciting. We have the governor of Delaware coming to speak; Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachersí union in the country, is going to be coming.
I think one of the great advantages that SOM has, since itís a small school, is the ability for students to lead multiple clubs and explore various interests. In addition to being a co-leader of the Education Club, I lead the Sports Club. Iím the captain of the club hockey team. Iím a leader of the Jewish Student Association. And Iím also a Student Government representative. Itís been incredible for me to get to explore so many different components and aspects of the SOM community.
I knew that, for my summer internship, I wanted to gain some more concrete experience in education. I ended up working as an Education Pioneers Fellow. Education Pioneers is a national organization that matches graduate students who want to work in education with organizations that are looking for talent over the summer. I was at NewSchools Venture Fund, which is a venture philanthropy ó they fund a lot of charter schools, some human-capital organizations, and, increasingly, technology firms. It underscored for me that this was the right career path.
Putting together the conference and in my job search, Iíve talked to a lot of SOM alumni who are involved in education ó there is an incredible camaraderie among SOM graduates in the field. What I love about SOM alumni, especially the ones who have been out of school for a while, is that they have held different roles that have touched on different components of society. On my International Experience in South Africa last spring, we met with the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, who is an SOM alum, as is his wife. Both of them have had fascinating careers that intersected the public sector, the private sector, the nonprofit sector. To me, that embodies the SOM mission, which is to prepare students to be able to go into any of those areas.
Interviewed on January 20, 2011.