Former Crossroads participants. Photo by the Mittal Institute.
The Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program, a fully-funded academic and professional development opportunity for low-income, first-generation college students, is cultivating a dynamic network of young leaders spanning over 135 countries. In its fourth iteration—and second virtual iteration—Crossroads brought together program alumni, Harvard faculty and industry mentors to welcome interested students to the Crossroads community.
Program alumni from 2020 spearheaded this year’s outreach effort, speaking at over 20 informational sessions over the span of 10 weeks. Joining from their hometowns of Catalao, Brazil, to Istanbul, Turkey to Dhaka, Bangladesh, alumni shared their favorite Crossroads memories, most useful program outcomes and application tips.
Harvard faculty members also led live events to share a sense of the Crossroads experience with prospective students. On March 15, Harvard Business School Professor Kristin Fabbe joined a conversation with Rana el-Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva and 2021 Crossroads mentor, where they discussed mentorship, core leadership values and humanizing technology. Rana el-Kaliouby, in her parting words to students, encouraged them to “pick something that you’re passionate about and become the domain expert in it and this is where the Crossroads Program could be really powerful.” Furthermore, she advised students that Crossroads “is an opportunity to explore something you’re excited about, to be structured and build a framework around it.”
“CELP challenges your perspective. Coming from a science background, I had the opportunity to learn more about other disciplines such as history, economics and literature, which has translated into how I approach my community projects.”
Harvard Business School Professors Karim Lakhani and Tarun Khanna, co-founders and faculty directors of the Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program, also led live sessions on March 9 and March 12, respectively. They shared dual perspectives on healthcare equity through innovation, emphasizing the interdisciplinarity of the Crossroads curriculum. Sidra, a former program participant from Lahore, Pakistan recalled, “CELP challenges your perspective. Coming from a science background, I had the opportunity to learn more about other disciplines such as history, economics and literature, which has translated into how I approach my community projects.”
Regional partners were key to the success of the first stage of the program this year, particularly in the Americas. In Brazil, for example, The Lemann Foundation mobilized its networks of disenfranchised students across the country to share Crossroads internship, mentorship and funding opportunities. In the United States, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) supported outreach among current and recent graduates of HBCUs.
Applications to the 2021 cycle of the Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program closed on March 22. Qualifying Crossroads students are now working on HarvardX courses, where they can earn fully-funded certificates in courses across an array of disciplines, as well as on online skills assessment. Candidates will continue to move through the tiered application process to meet Harvard faculty members and mentors, access internship opportunities, participate in a summer program for finalists and apply for funding.