Hello Heller! Danielle Lund's Acceptance Story

Danielle Lund, MA in Sustainable International Development/MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence'24

February 27, 2024

Danielle Lund, MA in Sustainable International Development/MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence'24After graduating from college with my bachelor’s degree in political science, I spent the next year deciding what I wanted to do with my life. It felt like the world was so big, yet so small, all at the same time – there were so many directions I could take - and, if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that my indecisive nature is a cornerstone of my personality. Picture this: armed with a degree yet lacking a clear path, I stood at the crossroads of countless choices, feeling a little lost. But one thing I knew for certain was that I love being a student. So, graduate school it was.

I spent a lot of time that year in a coffee shop by my house working on applications for graduate programs across the country. Because I have lived my whole life in my small town of Longwood, FL, I knew that I wanted to explore a new place before starting a career. The possibility of graduate school would allow me to spend a year or two in a new place and reassess what it was that I wanted to do, and where I wanted to be. I’ve heard that’s what your 20s are for anyway, right?

Once I got my acceptance letter to the Heller School, the first thing I felt was relief. After waiting weeks to hear back from my top choice program, the satisfaction of knowing all that work and waiting culminated into a successful acceptance letter was like taking a deep breath of fresh air. I was sitting at the coffee shop that I had now become a regular at when I received the notification that there had been an update to my application, and I immediately called my parents to tell them the news. Crying in the coffee shop, I unabashedly celebrated my win with my parents. As a first-generation student, it felt like *our* win, and that is a memory I will never forget.

I took my first ever trip up north about a month later to visit Brandeis after the lovely Dr. Sandra Jones invited me to sit-in on her Monitoring and Evaluation class. There was still snow on the ground when I visited, and I remember thinking that I would need to buy a new winter coat for this new chapter (which was a big deal for a Florida girl like me). It was during this visit that the intricate workings of peacekeeping and development efforts became apparent, fueling my eagerness to dive into this field. The rest, as they say, is history.