Alumnus Begins Career at Harvard

Osakpolo Igiede ’15

Noting the confidence Osakpolo Igiede '15 exuded as he began his first position at Harvard University – as well as the diverse background he brought from MCLA and his willingness to take on new challenges – his supervisor advanced him to a new position soon after he started work at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. As the new development assistant at the School of Public Health – a Harvard graduate school located adjacent to Harvard Medical School – Igiede directly supports the associate vice dean of campaign and development, as well as the directors of development that oversee individual giving.

With duties that range from completing daily administrative tasks to undertaking complex event planning with the school’s events team, "The best part about my job is that it is ever changing, since there are so many moving parts," Igiede said.

Throughout his MCLA education, Igiede frequently found himself applying what he learned in the classroom to real-life settings. "MCLA's classes taught me how to think outside of the box, and to expect the unexpected," he said. At MCLA, Igiede majored in business administration and minored in English/communications, with concentrations in both marketing and management. At Harvard, he uses the skills he learned from his diverse education.

Not a stranger to Harvard, Igiede spent three consecutive summers at its Graduate School of Education while he was an undergraduate, as he served internships in its Faculty Services and Executive Education departments, and at the Center for Education Policy and Research.

Back at MCLA, Igiede wore many hats as a result of the wide range of experiences available to him on campus. "The numerous committees and groups I served with taught me the importance of getting things done," he said. In addition to fulfilling his work study in MCLA's Advancement Office, Igiede served as a residential advisor for three years. The nature of this position, which required the use of his problem solving skills, he said, proved instrumental in preparing him to find success, and has served him well since he graduated from MCLA 

As invested as Igiede was throughout his time on campus, he almost didn't attend college at MCLA.  Initially, as a high school student, he wanted to attend a different institution. However, after he visited MCLA during an overnight visit, "I was hooked. The small community allowed me to feel less like a number and more like a person who mattered and was valued." 

The best part of attending MCLA, Igiede said, "was meeting people from all walks of life and being connected by the small thread of not just occupying the same learning spaces, but understanding that we all wanted to make a positive impact somewhere."

His other MCLA experiences include service on the Student Government Senate, and as a club executive member. Igiede also participated in the Dance Company for two-and-a-half years. A photography intern for Student Affairs, Igiede assisted the yearbook editor, and created a digital showcase of students and staff, "People of MCLA," which highlighted individuals on campus, and their stories. He went on to receive the English/communications Department's Randy Trabold Photojournalism Scholarship.

Igiede advises prospective MCLA students to remain present in the moment and understand the value of the institution. "See MCLA for all it has to offer, from the award-winning faculty to the state-of-the-art buildings and close-knit community," he said. "MCLA is a great institution that gives adequate space for students, staff and faculty to not only explore new ideas, but also to be adaptable."

Since he graduated from MCLA in 2013, Max Roman Dilthey has amassed more than five million readers through his cycling, hiking and backpacking website,, and with online publications his writing has appeared in, such as The Solar Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and
Because of this work, Dilthey, who double majored in English and environmental studies at MCLA, recently won the 2016 New England Outdoor Writing Association’s Award.
"I write about things that mean a lot to me, and I think anyone can connect with someone's experience if the story they’re telling is meaningful and honest," Dilthey said.
"I think it’s great that a lot of my work resonates with people. I especially love the community on my site, where I have regular readers who comment and tell me what they think about my articles. That feedback really makes me want to write more and more," he added.
Dilthey originally planned to major in art. He switched to English after a positive experience in a writing course. Then, during his sophomore year, he became "hooked" on biology after taking a course to fulfill a science prerequisite, and ended up adding the environmental studies major soon after.
"I don’t think I'd have picked either of these majors if I wasn't inspired by the courses and professors at MCLA," Dilthey said.
Now a graduate student in the Sustainability Science program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he is completing his master’s degree and beginning work on his Ph.D., Dilthey’s many activities include working with a team of Ph.D. students and faculty to co-author a paper on adaptation and mitigation for climate change resilience in coastal environments.
Dilthey also teaches his own class," Sustainable Living: Solutions for the 21st Century," a four-credit course for first-year UMass students.
In addition, he’s working with the Residential Academic Programs Office to develop new connections for first-year students and programming partners across the University of Massachusetts system as they create a general education course on life at college.
"I push the benefits and importance of a diverse, rich, and multifaceted education to my students any chance I get, using my time at MCLA as an example of the power of interdisciplinary learning. I am immensely proud of our school, and I am lucky to have started there. I would not be here without MCLA," he said.
In fact, Dilthey finds himself spending a good deal of time telling students about the benefits of his experiences at MCLA, such as how they can find opportunities in clubs and the value of  learning from a diverse selection of classes.
Dilthey, whose writing also is featured in Adventure Cycling and Bikepackers magazines, discovered his love for camping, hiking and backpacking during his senior year through the MCLA Outdoors Club. There, he learned everything he needed to know to eventually lead trips himself. The experience, he said, was "transformative."
At UMass, Dilthey said he has one of the strongest backgrounds in environmental law among others in his department. "MCLA taught me that the courses outside of your major or focus can sometimes be the most valuable to your career. 
He recommends MCLA – and the English and environmental sciences programs, in particular – to prospective students.
"Both of these degrees are absolutely as rigorous and comprehensive as degrees from other colleges, and I have never once felt underprepared for my career and graduate school. I know a lot of my peers that graduated with me would say the same thing," Dilthey said. "Our entire group is doing amazing things, and we’re all still connected because of the sense of community we had at MCLA."

Copyright 2015 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts