The shadow knows, and so does Zuleika Velazquez.
Velazquez is a junior at Boston Latin Academy in Dorchester. On Feb. 2, she was one of almost 1 million high school students nationwide participating in Job Shadow Day, an opportunity for students to follow an adult through a day on the job to see how their day-to-day schoolwork leads to success in the workplace.
The adult whom Velazquez chose to shadow? Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers.
“What I learned was that his job is very hectic, very time-consuming, very stressful, but exciting at the same time.”
Velazquez was one of 40 students from her school selected to shadow volunteers in the Boston area. When she saw Summers’ name on the list, she jumped at the chance to spend Groundhog Day serving as the president’s personal shadow.
“Harvard is the best school in the world. Even people in other countries know that. Having the opportunity to meet the president of Harvard . . . that’s just amazing!”
Velazquez said that she first began hearing about Harvard when she was 5. That was when she and her mother, who was born in the Dominican Republic, moved from New York City to Boston.
“I remember everyone saying to my mother, ‘Oh, maybe your daughter will go to Harvard!’ Now I can’t believe I’m really here.”
Velazquez’s day began at 9 a.m. when she met Summers at his home on Elmwood Avenue. The two then drove to Babson College in Wellesley where Summers was scheduled to give a talk to the Headmasters Association.
On the way back, Velazquez discussed the themes of the talk with Summers.
Velazquez was then given a tour of Massachusetts Hall, then had lunch with a group of administrators at the Faculty Club. Was Harvard what you’d expected, she was asked?
“I thought Harvard was so prestigious that people here must be very serious, that it would just be books, books, books all day long. But what I realized is that people are just people. They just do what they have to do every day.”