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Meet the Secondary School Program Deans

Advice for high school students from the Assistant Deans at Harvard Summer School's Secondary School Program.

6/04/2020 | Harvard Summer School | 9 minute read

Picture of Rebecca Bakken
Written By:
Rebecca Bakken

Summer programs are often the first taste of college for high school students. Upon entering, students are eager to connect with others with whom they can learn and grow.

For those new to college, it isn’t always so easy to find community. The assistant deans at Harvard Summer School are there to create opportunities for students to establish meaningful connections with other students, tutors, and faculty.

The assistant deans are an important part of the Harvard Summer School experience, equipped with their own academic and professional experiences, and prepared to guide students every step of the way.

We asked our 2020 Secondary School Program deans about their plans for this summer and their advice for incoming students. Here’s what they had to say:  

photo_Keith MoonKeith Moon joins Harvard Summer School as Associate Dean this summer after 20 prior years with the Secondary School Program as Proctor and Assistant Dean. With special focus on SSP college preparatory activities, he is eager to help students plan their post-secondary education.

What's your advice for students currently thinking about a summer program?

 “In a normal summer, there are scores of choices for rising juniors and seniors in high school: jobs, athletic camps, theater and music camps, college tours, and summer vacation all are common and popular options for teenagers. This year, many of those choices are either off the table or considerably restricted, but students are no less eager to be involved in meaningful, demanding programs. It's time for all of us to get back to the business of growing our talents and abilities; especially in a complicated and difficult time, it's vital that we all think about what's coming next. My advice is to keep on track: find courses that will challenge the mind. Talk with people who understand colleges and applications and continue the search for the appropriate next educational experience. Continue to explore the interest and passions that have made students who they are.”

 photo_Heather McLetchie-LeaderHeather McLetchie-Leader returns for her seventh summer as Assistant Dean with Harvard Summer School. She is a Proctor for Harvard College First Years, and a Ph.D. candidate in the study of religion at Harvard Divinity School. Dean McLetchie-Leader has worked in residential education programs at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Phillips Andover. She has also taught at the K-12 level and in several adult and executive education programs.

 What do you hope to achieve with your cohort this summer?

 I look forward to building relationships with the students in my cohort and helping them to build relationships with each other. I hope that students in my cohort gain an understanding of how exciting college courses can be. Many college courses will explore a subject in depth; in seven weeks, the course will cover a whole semester’s worth of material. Such a course, in such a compressed amount of time, can open up one’s intellect to the thrill of deep engagement with a single subject. I will be available during {the drop/add period} for advising students in my cohort on course selection and I look forward to meeting {them} then!

photo_Andrea MayroseAndréa Mayrose has been a part of the Harvard Summer School family since 2006. Starting out as Proctor, she returned as SSP Assistant Dean in 2009, 2010, and 2013.  Andréa loves making new places her home! Born in Colorado, she has lived in South Dakota, North Carolina, California, Alaska, and Florida, as well as here in Cambridge where she earned a degree in Social Studies at Harvard.

What is your advice for students currently thinking about a summer program? 

Consider whether your environment is conducive to an intensive study program. Do you have the space and time to really immerse yourself in rigorous academic work, without traveling to a new location in order to do so? Does engaging in challenging material excite you? Are you interested in meeting others--virtually, of course--from around the world, whose ideas and perspectives may challenge your own? If you can answer these affirmatively, then a summer program may be a fantastic way to enrich your mind and your life this summer.

 photo_Kasey LeBlancKasey LeBlanc (he / him / his) is a fifth-year Assistant Dean with Harvard Summer School and a 2015 graduate of Harvard College. An aspiring author, Kasey has recently completed the year-long Novel Incubator program with local writing nonprofit GrubStreet. His Young Adult novel Flyboy tells the story of a closeted transgender teen and a magical dream circus.


What’s your advice for students currently thinking about a summer program?

What are your other time commitments this summer, and how have you handled rigorous coursework in the past? Learning the subject matter is important, but learning to balance responsibility and self-care are vital to your success as a student.

 photo_Genesis VergaraGenesis Vergara is excited to return this year to the Secondary School Program as an Assistant Dean, and can’t wait to be part of your online journey this summer. Currently a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at the Catholic University in Washington, DC, Genesis’ research and clinical work have focused on the intersection of mental health and education.

What’s your advice for students currently thinking about a summer program?

Consider your own interests as you explore course topics or research areas. Courses are fast-paced in the summer, so it can be helpful to study a course that you are passionate about. 

photo_Michael Raleigh Michael Raleigh returns for his third year as an Assistant Dean with the Harvard Secondary School Program. Mr. Raleigh maintains an active performing career as a tenor and conductor in the Boston area. He is the Vocal Music Director for Billerica (Massachusetts) Public Schools, where he teaches middle and high school choir.

What’s your advice for students currently thinking about a summer program?

You were admitted to this program because the Admissions Committee saw something unique about your application and about you. So, my advice is, have confidence in your ability to engage in rigorous academic work through the amazing courses offered by Harvard faculty.

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