Pamela Lim of Brisbane, Australia, Singapore, and Delaware received a master’s of liberal arts in digital media design from the Harvard Extension School. Her professional field is CEO of All Gifted Inc. She spoke of her experience as a student at the Extension School.
Harvard extension: Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
lim: I was not looking to get a degree when I first started my journey with Harvard in 2011. I enrolled in Henry Leitner’s programming class because my son was enrolled in it, and I wanted to ensure that the content was relevant and that he was comfortable.
Harvard Extension was a lifesaver for my son, who was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities by educational psychologists, and asked to attend a school for the intellectually disabled. Our own psychologists had advised me otherwise when he was tested profoundly gifted. I homeschooled him, and he completed grade 12. I then enrolled him in classes with Harvard Extension.
While sitting in his classes as a fully enrolled student, I got to update my skills as a programmer. I had been out of touch for almost 25 years by then. I used to be a programmer and then moved on to a senior management position. I became the CEO of a software company and later began teaching entrepreneurship.
At that point, I was in the midst of research on modern education and its relevance today (clearly because of my experience with my son). I decided that there were resources at Harvard that could help me put my thoughts into a process.
Ultimately, I will have solutions not only for myself, but for other parents in the same situation. Then, I thought a little further: I can make solutions for communities, for governments, for the unschooled, for the remotest parts of the world. In fact, I realized, I can change the world if I were to harness the power of technology in education.
To quote Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Harvard extension: How did you manage to balance your studies with work and family responsibilities?
lim: Throughout my time at Harvard, I had to bring up five young children [then 6 to 16 years old] single-handedly. Some were homeschooled and some were attending universities … At the same time, I was still teaching as a full-time faculty member with Singapore Management University. I founded one of my companies, All Gifted, at that time and filed a patent in 2016.
I coped by just taking my time to complete the degree. I didn’t have to think about how to cope; I just kept going. In fact, I was not aiming for a master’s degree. I was just happy to learn something new every semester. I enjoyed it so much. It is very likely I will continue to learn with Harvard Extension even after graduation. There’s so much I can learn! Not to mention this journey has given me new purpose.
Harvard extension: Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
lim: Life-changing. Not only for mine but my son’s. He has graduated with his bachelor’s by transferring the credits from Harvard Extension to another university. He [began] his master’s with Harvard in June.
This article was originally published on Harvard Extension School’s Student Spotlight web page in May. It has been lightly edited.