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Emmanuel Harvey’s Pursuance of a Passion for Public Service

Emmanuel Harvey Harvard Conference Image

Emmanuel Harvey attends the Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Leadership Conference in February 2019.


Before attending the Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Leadership Conference, Emmanuel Harvey had a skeptical perspective of a university-level education. Surrounded by people particularly focused on salary, the second-year communications and sociology major from Cleveland, Ohio questioned why he was in college when his passion for public service leans heavily on experience.

“Going into public service, it’s not about the money, it’s about the passion, and so you question why you’re in college,” said Harvey.

Even with this doubt, Harvey remained involved in the University of South Florida’s community. He was a resident assistant for Stonewall Suites Living and Learning community in Beacon Hall, a member of the Black Student Union and African Student Association and a former member of Safe Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), which helped to bring the Slut Walk, an annual event which raises sexual assault awareness, to the USF Tampa campus.

Still, his passion for public service and social justice itched for more. When Harvey attended the Black, Brown & College Bound Summit at Hillsborough Community College as a representative of USF’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, he met Natara Gray. Natara Gray is the Assistant Director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (ODIB) at the Harvard Kennedy School. He was inspired by her journey from a state university to Harvard and became interested in the university’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference, hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School.

“It’s not about the university brand,” said Harvey. “It’s about the passion you have as a student.”

With the goal of attending the conference in mind, Harvey visited the Office of National Scholarships looking for guidance. Ms. Lauren Bartshe walked him through the personal statement and helped him dismiss the feelings of uncertainty and the imposter syndrome knocking at his back door.

“Being a student of color, you get this fear before even submitting an application of what if I'm not good enough,” said Harvey.

Imposter syndrome, which refers to the phenomenon of doubting one’s accomplishments, thoughts, achievements and abilities, proved to be Harvey’s biggest challenge throughout the application process. Even with his incredible academic standing and community involvement, he questioned whether he really deserved to be at the conference.

However, his confidence soared not only when he was one of the 75 applicants chosen to attend from a pool of 500, but also when he received immense support from various leaders at Harvard, while attending the conference.

Emmanuel Professional Photo

“Going to the Harvard Kennedy School and being told by grad students, professors and school administrators that you were picked for a reason and you deserve to be here, it empowers you to want to make a difference,” said Harvey.


During the conference, Harvey found himself among other students with passions for public service and social justice. These students, with whom he created a diverse network, represented a wide range of majors, colleges and backgrounds.

“Going to a conference like this and seeing 74 other students who care about the same things and being told opportunities by other people at an institution like Harvard, it really solidifies what your passions are and the impact you can make,” said Harvey.

To future applicants, Harvey says to be authentic and know what you’re going for.

“You don’t need to know all the odds and ends of what you want your future to be, but you should have the self-awareness to know that you want to go into public service, you want to create justice and equity for all,” said Harvey.

Harvey walked away from the conference with more knowledge of global opportunities available to undergraduate students focused on public service. He also has a new support system who he still keeps in contact with.

“The Public Policy Conference really jump started where I want to go,” said Harvey.

After USF, Harvey hopes to join AmeriCorps, a network of three primary national service programs which each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. He also plans to work for a nonprofit that supports underrepresented communities and attend graduate school.

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Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Leadership Conference (PPLC) is an opportunity for first- and second-year undergraduate students to experience what it’s like to study public policy in a graduate school environment. The goal of the conference is to inspire students to pursue leadership roles and careers in public policy.