News & Ideas

Student Spotlight: Jonathan Zhang '23

Jonathan Zhang sits on a rock overlooking a forested valley
Portrait courtesy of Jonathan Zhang

Jonathan Zhang is a senior at Harvard College and has been an Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) mentor since fall 2021. His colleagues praised his dedication to ELP, particularly his help with ongoing recruitment efforts to fuel the program’s expansion.

One reason Zhang enjoys participating in the ELP program is that it allows him to “take a step back and challenge [himself].” He finds the ELP community to be diverse and welcoming, a feature that pushes him to examine his own positionality.

He also emphasized the importance of the work being done through the program: “First and foremost, it is an opportunity for Harvard to branch out and think about its mission in the larger community that it serves,” he says. “Often it feels like we are in a very privileged ivory tower debating large issues without realizing the impacts they have on everybody else. [ELP] is a genuine way of fostering growth and giving back to the community without falling into the pitfalls of paternalism.”

“I have not met a single person that became involved with HRI and regretted it,” he adds. “The personal growth that you experience as well as the impact you have on a level much larger than yourself will continue to inform your experiences into the future. The time that I spend with [the ELP community] is so full of laughter and joy that I often forget I am working.”

Sam Zuniga-Levy is the communications coordinator at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

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